I felt shock when he said it. I wanted to wrap my arms around those spiritual gifts as if the Grinch was prying them from my fingers. The same spiritual gifts, upon taking the test, I felt disgruntled with, I now wanted to guard. Discernment, Faith, and Knowledge…. why couldn’t I have Leadership or Prophesy (something strong and useful) I wondered back then, but years later, I wrapped those gifts in gleaming paper all about myself. Those gifts became a part of who God made me to be, and now a pastor claimed spiritual gift testing was a bunch of baloney.
I raised my chin a notch and pounded him with questions, but he refused to engage into a debate. Instead, he peered over the rim of his glasses, “Tammy, I recommend you pray about it. Ask the Father yourself and read the Word, God will show you.”
I left that weekend retreat feeling unwrapped, frayed, and insecure. What was my role now? Who was I, in the Kingdom work if I wasn’t God’s discernment, faith, and knowledge girl? He needed me doggone it! I was having an identity crisis.
Finding Answers in the Word:
I’ll be honest, when I returned home, I didn’t read everything on spiritual gifts. I prayed about it once…maybe twice. I read I Corinthians 12 several times, but had no clarity. I was reluctant to give up my belief on the subject, but God is faithful. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matt. 7:7 (ESV)
In Acts, I found the disciples on the Day of Pentecost speaking in tongues unfamiliar to them. Suddenly, they received a gift that could not be attributed to their individual personalities or skill sets.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirt gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?’’’ (Acts 2:4-8, ESV)
In scrutinizing the spiritual gifts test, I found the premise based on a person’s inclinations. Our inclination to respond in a particular way reflects more our personality than the supernatural power of God working through us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt God’s power the most when I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Through our weakness, God’s power illuminates. It is in our “without” that God pours power within. Why must we try to box and wrap up specific gifts as if we are claiming them as our own? Having to know what gifts you have beforehand in order to do the work, reveals a lack of faith. Stepping out in faith, is stepping out each day willing to allow God to lead and supply.
Finding Answers Through Others:
Throughout the Bible, there are several people that have helped me release my grip. First, Peter he was a fisherman, sunburned and brutish in nature, yet Christ called him to discipleship, he received the Holy Spirit, and started the first church. If we took the spiritual gifts test on his behalf according to the book of Acts alone, he would have scored high in all the gifts. Is it possible, we receive the gift when we receive the assignment? And just maybe, the gift is only present for the time in which we need it. It is not ours to claim.
Secondly, Paul describes his weakness as a thorn in his side. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Cor 12-8-10 Paul found his strength and security in the Holy Spirit, not in spiritual gifts.
Remember Moses panicked when God asked him to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites? (Exodus 6-7) Moses claimed he didn’t have the gift of speech, while God explained He would give him the words, because He made his mouth. Though God allowed Aaron to accompany him, it was Moses who did the speaking, as the Holy Spirit gifted him for that specific time. If Moses would have taken the spiritual gifts test, he would have scored low on speaking, because as he stated he was “of a slow tongue,”—probably meaning he stuttered.
On and on, we see spiritual gifts used throughout the Bible by followers of Christ, but not once do we see the gifts assigned. Jesus never told the disciples which gifts they had to use towards building the church. The Holy Spirit equipped them as God presented the task.
The Pitfalls of Spiritual Gift Testing:
- We could decline work God is calling us to do, because we scored low on the spiritual gift required to accomplish the task presented to us.
- We could volunteer for work God has not called us to do because it fits with our spiritual gift.
- We could become prideful as we claim ownership of a particular gift, and feel that gift is superior in the church.
- We are categorizing and limiting the gifts of the Holy Spirit to a list on a test.
- We are not putting faith in God to reveal in due time what gifts He bestows on us.
- There is a tendency to answer the test biased to the way we see ourselves, rather than the way we truly are.
- A non-believer could take the test, and the test would assign a spiritual gift to that person.
- It negates the power of the Holy Spirit in us, since we answer the questions based on our inclinations/personality.
- It contains a humanistic focus.
- The test is self-focused, not God-focused.
Stop Putting God in a Box:
My brother- in- law once said, “Spiritual gifts tests, puts God in a neat little box. Why would we want to do that?” God unwrapped my belief system and opened it up to true power through the Holy Spirit. I know now, it not only puts God in a box, but puts His believers in one too. It limits us and the power we can experience through the Holy Spirit, and the work we can accomplish for the glory of God. Any tool puts the focus on self or places limitations on us as believers is a tool I’m not willing to give credence to.
Yes, I’m no longer God’s “discernment, faith, and knowledge” girl, I am His “whatever He wants me to be” girl. How about you?