Spiritual Gifts: What Are They and How Do I Identify Mine?

"In order to find your Life Mission, you'll need to listen to the One who gave it to you." Tony Evans


What is my purpose? What gifts do I have? How does the Holy Spirit work in my life? Am I essential in God's Kingdom? All questions I have asked and heard others ask me over the years. In fact, I have listened to these "meaning of life" questions more than any other.


Pew Research studied Spiritual Gifts and found that 66% of Christians said they did not know their spiritual gifts. Out of the 34% that did, 20% identified a gift not found in scripture. Based upon this study, only 14% of Christians know their spiritual gifts. No wonder the questions above are asked so often. You see, your purpose is tied to your gifts and activated by the Holy Spirit. Through the process of using your gifts, you not only impact the Kingdom of God but also add value and meaning to your life. When gifts go unused or untapped, you may begin to feel a lack of purpose or direction in your life or fall prey to the lie that you have little meaning or impact in the world.

But God created YOU on purpose, for a purpose, with specific spiritual gifts to be used in this particular generation. "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows them very well." Psalm 139:13-14. Verse 16 says, "…the days that were formed for me, …" Wow! Did you catch that? God made you way before you were even a thought on this earth. He chose you. ". . . you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9.

your purpose is tied to your gifts and activated by the Holy Spirit

The creator of the universe, the creator of you and me, knit us together for a purpose. He's given you an important role to play in this generation. I firmly believe taking time to better understand your spiritual gifts, while actively listening to how God desires you to use your gifts in His Kingdom, will catapult you into fulfilling your purpose for this generation: love God, love people, and make disciples.


So, what are Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual Gifts are God-given talents or abilities given to Christ-followers by the Holy Spirit to build up, inspire, and support the church in fulling its mission here on earth: to make disciples throughout the world. They are given by God, for God.


Spiritual Gifts are also just that, gifts. They are not given to us based upon our merit or talent; they are given freely. Spiritual Gifts are also not of natural ability but rather an empowerment of the Holy Spirit that enables believers to serve far beyond their mere human effort. God positions His believers to use their gifts in a way that reveals His power and glory. Let's look at an Old Testament example with which most of you are familiar. Consider David, a young boy, chosen to be king because he possessed a deep faith in the Lord. His faith landed him victories that were not of human power. He defeated a lion and a bear with his bare hands to protect his sheep in the fields. He defeated a giant named Goliath for the Israel Army with one stone to the forehead. God used David, and his gift of faith, to show His power and glory to the Israelites. Without God, David's hands weren't sufficient to save his sheep. Without God, the five stones David picked up along the riverbed would have been useless against the Philistine Army (1 Samuel 17). David's faith was extraordinary, and it drew attention to God.

God positions His believers to use their gifts in a way that reveals His power and glory

Each Spiritual Gift has a special place in the Body of Christ. In His supreme wisdom, God created a variety of gifts so the various needs within a body will be fulfilled. When each gift is used in harmony, unity is formed, and the needs of the Church are met. For instance, let's say your church body has a member, we'll call him Dan, who recently lost his job and is hurting financially and spiritually. This church body would be able to discern each need and assist Dan accordingly. Someone blessed with the gift of giving will be quick to notice his financial need and offer to help. The one gifted with exhortation will be present by encouraging and praying with Dan. Those gifted with pastoring will know Dan's need for strength by reminding him of God's promises and love. The servers will quickly notice and address particular needs such as meals, house chores, babysitting, etc. And those gifted with mercy will come alongside Dan to offer comfort by identifying with his situation and feelings. Isn't it beautiful to see how God designed all the gifts to work together and how each gift is vital and necessary for the Kingdom?


As you continue this journey to understand more about each spiritual gift and the giftings of others within your church community, you will notice your sense of appreciation for your brothers and sisters in Christ is magnified. Simultaneously, within the story of God, your personal mission and purpose have the potential to be lived out with a greater sense of urgency, passion, and intentional action.



The 13 Spiritual Gifts:

Click here for the full gift description, which also includes gift liabilities and bible and character references.


Administration: Those with the gift of administration tend to naturally guide and direct groups of people toward a God-given goal by planning, organizing, and supervising others.

Discernment: Those with the gift of discernment can clearly identify and recognize the difference between the influence of God, Satan, the world, and the flesh in a given situation.

Evangelism: Evangelists are burdened for the lost and given the unique ability to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly and effectively to others as Good News. Exhortation (Encouragement): Those with the gift of exhortation, often and passionately, remind those around them of the powerful and excellent work of God in Christ by assisting them to reach their full potential through encouraging, challenging, comforting, and guiding. Faith: People with the gift of faith have such tremendous confidence in the power and promises of God that they can stand firm in their belief, no matter what may try to shake them. Giving: Those with the gift of giving naturally recognize God's blessings and respond to those blessings by generously, sacrificially, and cheerfully sharing their resources (time, talent, and financial means) without expecting anything in return.

Helps: Those with the gift of helps unselfishly support or assist members of the body of Christ so that they may be free to use their gifts to minister to others. Knowledge: The Holy Spirit grants those with the gift of knowledge an exceptional understanding of the great truths of God's Word and makes them relevant to specific situations in the body of Christ. Shepherding: Pastoring/shepherding is the God-given ability to assume long-term personal responsibility for leadership and the spiritual care, protection, guidance, and feeding (teaching) of a group of believers. Prophecy: Those with the gift of prophecy proclaim the Word of God with clarity and fearlessly share it to strengthen, encourage, and comforting believers and the convincing of unbelievers. Service: Those with the gift of service can fill the many gaps of ministry and meet the church's needs as it seeks to fulfill the Great Commission. They enjoy serving in the background and often do not prefer the spotlight or a position. Teaching: Teaching is the God-given ability to explain the truths of the Word of God clearly and to apply them effectively so that those taught understand and learn.


Wisdom: Those with the gift of wisdom have the God-given ability to apply knowledge to life in such a way as to make spiritual truths quite relevant and practical in proper decision making and daily life situations.


Check out full gift definitions here.


How can I identify my gift?

Now that we have discussed what Spiritual Gifts are and described each, let's look at ways you can identify your gifting. First and foremost, you must go to the one who gives the gift. Remember, your gifts are not of natural ability but the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Pray for God to reveal your gift(s). Listen to the Spirit's promptings and guidance. He often nudges you in the direction He desires you to go.

  • Take a look at how you currently spend your time and what you are naturally drawn to. Are you the person who typically plans get-togethers or volunteers to organize events? You may be gifted in Administration. Do you notice the needs of others and quickly jump in to provide a meal to a new mom or mow the lawn for a friend stuck working overtime? If that's you, you probably have the gift of Serving. Do you know those people in your church who consistently comfort others and walk beside them during challenging seasons? They more than likely have the gift of Mercy.

  • Joy can also be an indicator of what your gift may be. Using our gifts often means we are fulfilling our purpose. Fulfilling our purpose brings joy and satisfaction.

  • As you read through the list of gifts, did any resonate with you?

  • Ask your close friends and family member what they believe your spiritual gift may be. Sometimes we don't see in ourselves what others see in us.

  • Look at the fruit of your life. Since the Holy Spirit is the one who empowers spiritual gifts, you should expect to see evidence of His presence, power, and work when you serve in your areas of gifting. If you think you have the gift of evangelism, ask yourself, "Are people following Jesus as a result of my ministry?" Or, if you feel you have the gift of giving, you can ask, "Do I only tithe, or do I feel called to go far beyond the tithe? Do I feel the best way to give of myself is to give of my material gain for the work of God?"

  • Pray more for God to reveal your gifts. Spend time actively listening for His voice.

  • Take an online spiritual gifts assessment. You have two options here: take the assessment yourself or as a group or church community. Those seeking to pursue the individual route can google spiritual gifts assessments and locate one online. I encourage those interested in the group or church community route to look at our ministry here at GTS Life. Our heart at GTS Life is to come alongside groups and churches to assist them in understanding and unlocking their God-given gifts and purpose. We offer a Spiritual Gifts Growth & Development Program and One-Day Workshops, which includes spiritual gifts assessments for participants. You can contact me, Caleb Elrod, at caleb@gtslife.org for more information.

As you continue your journey to understand more about Spiritual Gifts, I want to remind you of one important fact. Yes, your Spiritual Gift is an essential tool that you should discover, use, and continually strengthen, but it should not be over-analyzed or misplaced. Jesus should always remain the most important discussion topic and be the one you consistently pursue to grow, thrive, and serve others well. Christianity, at its core, is all about loving God and loving people. Your Spiritual Gift, when known and used, is one way you love God and love people.


May God bless you and guide you as you search for your giftings and utilize your giftings to fulfill your purpose: love God, love people, and make disciples.


Your friend,

Caleb Elrod

Let's Grow, Thrive, and Serve TOGETHER!



"In order to find your Life Mission, you'll need to listen to the One who gave it to you." Tony Evans
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