Spiritual Gifts

We are called as stewards to commit directly to God’s work a portion of the time, talent, and treasure that God has entrusted to our care. We can calculate numerically our time and our treasure, but what do we mean by our talent?

What we call a talent, scripture calls a spiritual gift. A spiritual gift is not a natural aptitude, like having an ear for music or an eye for painting. Nor is it a developed ability, like shooting under par on a golf course or turning a perfect spindle on a lathe. Spiritual gifts do not explain what I can do. They define who I am in all aspects of my life and my faith. They establish my place and function in the Body of Christ and in my specific community of faith.

We know from letters by the Apostle Paul (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12) and his followers (Ephesians 4) that the ministry of the early church was grounded in spiritual gifts. The Greek word used most often by Paul to describe a spiritual gift was charisma, literally a gift-in-grace, a sign of God’s free favor with no regard to merit or reward. Gifts of the Spirit are not given to enhance the individual, but rather the community in which the individual serves. The real value and strength of spiritual gifts emerge when they are linked with the spiritual gifts of others. When each person’s gifts join the gifts of others, the result is greater than the sum of the parts. Spiritual gifts are to be used in Christian community.

The gifts that God gives, however, are not given primarily to support the work of the institutional Church. Instead, the institution of the Church was created to provide an environment in which spiritual gifts can be discovered, developed, and deployed for the transformation of the world. The institution exists that we might be the Church for the world. Just as in our financial stewardship, we do not give to our local church, but rather to God through our local church; so also is our local church a community in which we can join our spiritual gifts with the spiritual gifts of others, not to enhance the local church, but rather to advance the kingdom of God and thereby to honor the Giver.

Spiritually-gifted people live in a dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit. As in any healthy relationship, there is growth and change. What might be a predominant spiritual gift during one phase of life might diminish as another gift increases later in life. Understanding our spiritual gifts—and ways in which the Giver is calling us to use those gifts—requires ongoing prayerful discernment.

Buncombe Street UMC offers a tool to help you identify your spiritual gifts and to find ministries in the life of the church where you can join your gifts to the gifts of others. The BSUMC Spiritual Gifts Survey is available online. Take the survey. Pray about the results. Discover what wonderful spiritual gifts God has given to you, and where God is calling you to apply those gifts as a faithful steward in the Buncombe Street chapter of the Body of Christ.