1 Corinthians 12:4–11 (NASB95)
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
A while ago, I was having a conversation with a senior in high school who was interning with his church’s Jr. High group. As you can imagine, he was thinking quite a bit about what college he would like to go to (and afford to go to) and about his future beyond college. He was exploring the possibility of working as a youth pastor or pastor. As we talked about the things he had been doing as an intern and the opportunities he has had to teach, it became clear that he is not convinced that a public teaching ministry is in his future. Yet, he has a love for the church and would like to be in full time ministry and that becomes a problem in a church culture that puts a premium on speaking ability. For me this brought back thoughts of an issue that I am passionate about for the church: gifts given by the Holy Spirit, and since we are headed into the Christmas season, I thought blogging on gifts was appropriate.
You see, while each believer has become a container for the Holy Spirit, we are not the same. Each of us has a very unique ministry that was given directly to us for the good of our local body of believers. We need to not only be exploring how we have been gifted and be doing everything we can to be working within that ministry, but we need to be encouraging others to do the same. Instead of trying to plug willing people into open ministry opportunities, we should be freeing each other to pursue areas of ministry that are a good fit with our giftedness and passions. This is an act of faith because that might mean that a ministry we highly value in the church goes unfulfilled or even goes away.
Yet, I see nowhere in scripture a model of ministry where we create programs and try to plug people in. Granted, scripture is not a handbook on church organization, but it does have some things to say about the church and this is clearly one. Ministries in the church are not created by us; they are created by the Holy Spirit in the lives of individual believers. When we create ministries, then motivate individuals to serve in those ministries, while ultimately meeting our own goals for that ministry, we have accomplished much. When we create an environment where individuals are encouraged to explore their gifts, are given feedback by the spiritually mature on their effectiveness, and ultimately are freed to work week after week in areas that they have been given gifts and passion by the Holy Spirit, it is He who has accomplished much. When He does the gifting and empowering, then the results are His and ultimately the glory...and isn’t that the point?
May we each be exploring the unique ways in which the Holy Spirit wants to come out in our lives, and may we have the faith to walk in them and allow others to do the same.