“What are you good at? Is there something you would love to do?”
I listened as the facilitator of our team-building exercise asked these questions. And when she asked us to go around the circle and share our answers, I panicked on the inside because I didn’t have an answer. So I listened closely to others share their dreams, hoping I might glean ideas for mine.
Here I was, thirty-two years old, with no idea of what I was good at or what I enjoyed.
I guess I never had the courage or time to think about it. Up until that point, I had basically done what others wanted, expected, or needed me to do.
After I fumbled for an answer and recovered from the embarrassment of my lack, we took a break for lunch. Sliding up beside me, our facilitator, Miriam, encouraged me to ask God what He created me to do and what would give me joy, if I did it.
We aren’t designed to be who others expect us to be, or even want us to be.
Miriam suggested I take time to discover who God created me to be by identifying my abilities, passions, and spiritual gifts. In the weeks that followed, I took her advice and started reading Scriptures about spiritual gifts and completed a spiritual gifts inventory.
Reading through my assessment, I recognized strengths and abilities that came naturally to me. And I remembered times when I had used them and felt filled up instead of drained out.
Looking back now, how I wish I had known then what I know now. I wish I had known the promise of Jeremiah 1:5, where God says:
I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart.
Just like God called and equipped the prophet Jeremiah to be His mouthpiece to the Israelites, He has a specific call and gifting for each of us. And He established both before we were even born.
It’s so easy to neglect ourselves to meet the needs of everyone around us, and call it self-sacrifice. It sounds godly, but in doing so to an extreme we risk shutting down a place in our soul where God has gifted us and set us apart — to serve and thrive.
Do you know what God has wired you to be good at and what you love to do?
One of the ways to discover God’s unique wiring is through our spiritual gifts. Unlike talents and abilities received at natural birth, spiritual gifts are received at spiritual birth. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, God’s presence indwells our hearts in the form of the Holy Spirit. And, along with His presence comes a “present,” referred to as a spiritual gift.
Our spiritual gifts are thoughtfully chosen by our heavenly Father to help us fulfill His plans for our lives.
There are three main ways to discover our spiritual gifts. First, just start serving. A friend of mine was in the NFL when he became a Christian. Knowing God wanted him to serve but unsure where or how, he volunteered in the prayer ministry at church. Then one Sunday, his pastor asked him to share his testimony in the service, and that day he discovered his passion and giftedness for teaching God’s Word. Today he is the lead pastor of one of the fastest growing multi-ethnic congregations in the United States — but he didn’t start there.
Second, ask someone who knows you and has seen you serving. Friends and leaders in ministry are a great resource to help you find that place in the body of Christ best suited for you and your giftedness.
Finally, ask yourself: What gives me a sense of joy and fulfillment when I am contributing to ministry or something of spiritual significance? Then go do it.
God had a plan in mind when He made you. When you intentionally use your spiritual gifts, God will guide you toward the purposes for which He has set you apart — to fulfill His plans and dreams for your life.
Lord, I want to know the woman You had in mind when You created me.
I don’t want to grow old and never know Your purpose for my life.
Show me the gifts and dreams You have for me,
so I can offer what You want to give to others in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I found that taking a Spiritual Gifts survey helped me to identify my gifts (which are different than talents). Some didn’t surprise me, yet others caused me to step back and ponder. I have also found that as I’ve matured, my gifting has change slightly and also, sometimes, for a season, God will call us outside our area of giftedness to enable us to really rely on Him. (Can you say leading a large group in which I had to get upfront and speak a lot??). I’ve also found that God will call us completely outside our comfort zone in order to use our spiritual gifts. If someone would have told me 10 years ago I’d be starting a Christian school in the Middle East, I would have told them they were crazy. Funny how God works. Being open and available to let Him use our gifts….that’s truly the sweet spot. Great post!
Patricia Krupske says
Yes to all of this. And Bev I love your response too!
Michele Morin says
I can’t help but comment on this, Bev, because I’ve been reading your words for a while and truly do see this openness and availability oozing throughout your writing. My struggle comes not with knowing what I’m gifted to do, but with the overwhelming need around me to just do whatever needs doing. Ministry leadership becomes a balancing act in which I continually weigh my level of discomfort with doing something against my level of discomfort with letting that ministry die. Small churches have their own unique staffing issues, and my challenge is to have clear-eyed perspective on the fine line between prima donna specificity in what aligns with my gifts — and the gracious, God-given self knowledge that says a confident no and then waits for someone else to step up.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
A wise woman once told me that If I say “Yes” to every opportunity put in front of me, I may not be the best person to do that job and , in fact, I may be robbing someone else of an opportunity to really shine in their area of giftedness. I also had to learn the hard way that if I was spread too thin I was no good to anyone. So “No” is not a four letter word. And with regard to starting RCF, Inc. ministry in the Middle East. I prayed about that and I am embarrassed to admit I really dragged my feet with God’s calling on that one. Like Moses or Jonah, I was like “Who me? No way.” I’ve learned if God REALLY wants you to do something, He will keep after you….continually nudging until there is no doubt He wants YOU to do something. I’ve had to learn through trial and error, but I’ve also learned that it is often better to do fewer things and do them well….hope that helps??
Blessings sweet friend,
Renee Swope says
Such good thoughts Michele! Thank you for sharing them! ❤️️
Renee Swope says
Amen Bev!! Couldn’t agree more!
Melissa Henderson says
A beautiful message! There have been times when I wondered what my true calling could be. Then, I realized that our calling can be different at different times. Daily, hourly, even by the seconds, God calls us to various ways to glorify Him. I pray that in whatever I do, I will always glorify Him. 🙂
Renee Swope says
Yes, our calling is to know and glorify Him right where we are.
I’m praying with someone who’s asking these questions and trying to figure that out right now. We women do so much of the care-taking that it’s easy to serve from our availability rather than our giftedness. (Which there is a time and a place for both, for sure.) — I frustrate myself with all of the different tests, whether spiritual gifts or personality, because I never seem to fit neatly into one category. It’s like there’s a big box with four squares and a small box in the middle of that box, and I’m the small box. The one that has a corner in every part of the big box. I guess I’m complicated. 🙂 So thankful that none of this was a surprise to the God who created me, and hope I’m able glorify Him with my complicated self. 🙂
Beth Williams says
I’m going to take the Spiritual Gift test later today. It is hard to distinguish between a talent and a spiritual gift. If you would have told me years ago that I would be getting up in front of people & doing sing language-I would have laughed. I was shy & being in front of people scared me. It still does a bit. God has used my love of music to enhance our worship services every now & then. Too often people-especially pastor’s wives-think they must say yes to every opportunity. That is not good. Like Bev said you are robbing someone else of an opportunity to shine. Also you are wearing yourself out. You need to step back & relax-take a rest & see what others can do. Many hands make light work. Allow others to help you.
Renee Swope says
Amen to all of this. I wore myself out for soooo many years and my heart was so weary. Amazing how using our gifts can fill us instead of draining us.
As a new empty nester, whose kids keep moving in and out in their adult years, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. I have always been very involved in ministry, but I have even more time on my hands now. I also really like my comfort zone and I am not a big risk taker. But I want to be and do what God wants me to be and do for that is where the fullest life is! Pray for me as I seek the Lord’s will for this next chapter of my life!
Speaking of the “next chapter”, I certainly can relate. My dear husband recently passed away to Glory. He is with the Lord in His presence. But, I often feel aimless. Like you, my new chapter has not been written and I feel unable to move forward. Perhaps I can share with you what God said to me. He said, “I will light your candle..I will enlighten your darkness” (see Psalms 30). Ask God to enlighten your dark understanding. Share all your thoughts with Him. He is faithful to shed light on your way forward. Also, don’t forget to endorse yourself for your good effort in helping your children. Your effort does not go unnoticed by God. Your reward is sure .
Pearl Allard says
Renee, wow, I appreciate your transparency and encouragement. Thank you for this. I’m currently journaling through the book Restless by Jennie Allen and it’s helping me do what you describe. Your post was confirmation I’m on the right track. Thanks again!
Beautifully stated. Thank you. I believe I have been given multiple gifts. However, because of this, I neglect settling on any of them to do them because I get confused as to which one to stick to. Has anyone else experienced this?This is not a boastful reply but a call for help so that I don’t waste anymore time. I have learned that ‘busy-ness’ does not equate to ‘purposeful-ness’.
Thank you for sharing Renee.
Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart says
The two times I took the Spiritual Gifts test years ago, I was more perplexed than ever. Seems I don’t compute according to the test perimeters, or I didn’t answer correctly.
Trial and error was the path to figuring it out for me. I tried every age group, every ministry, multiple volunteer opportunities in and out of church, and landed in Women’s Ministry, writing, and encouraging women.
Kevin Rodriguez says
I love it when you said ” We aren’t designed to be who others expect us to be, or even want us to be.” We should take time to discover ourselves. – Kevin @ Our Journey2Greatness
Rebecca L Jones says
Gifts are from God and perfect, that;s why I think we miss them sometimes, trying to work for them or not thinking what we truly love is His gift. There are talents and gifts that are studied for and then there are spiritual gifts, and we are to follow love, Jesus and desire them and don’t look back.
Reading this, I still feel a sense of not knowing what purpose I’m here for. My kids are young, thriving adults in life and here I am sitting, feeling useless in so many ways it’s just unbelievable sometimes. Forty-eight years young and I just feel so hopeless most days and I feel as though my life right now is equivalent to a messy desk. I’m blessed to have such a supportive spouse but this journey the last few years has at times been a deeply hidden emotional rollercoaster.
This really encouraged me. Thank you! I’m a SAHM and all my kids are in school now for the first time in 12 1/2 years. I feel like I have nothing to offer now and don’t know what to do. I will continue seeking God and I know He will show me.
Theresa Boedeker says
“We aren’t designed to be who others expect us to be, or even want us to be.” This really caught my attention. This is how I was raised. How I lived for so long. And then like you, I attended a women’s ministry event that talked about our spiritual gifts. We took assessments and boy was it fun to find out what mine were. And funny thing, I was even using some of mine. I just did not know it. Great encouragement here for us. Thanks