Formations 09.04.2022: Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory? Some churches or ministry events offer these to help people determine the ways God has gifted them. If you do an online search for “spiritual gifts inventory,” you’ll get several options from different denominations and publishers. But most of them have similar statements, and people mark the level to which each one is true for them (such as 1 being least true and 10 being most true). Here are some examples:

• I enjoy doing acts of service in the community.
• I feel comfortable leading a group and helping others find ways to contribute.
• I am most connected to God in prayer and like keeping track of people’s prayer requests.
• I like singing praises to the Lord.

At the end of the inventory, you add up your “score” and see where you fall in the various categories of spiritual gifts—speaking, singing, praying, encouraging, serving, and so on. And then those categories can narrow further into practical ministries like speaking to particular groups about faith, leading prayer circles, helping organize the church food pantry, and more.

The point of these inventories is to guide people in the direction of their God-given gifts that can help share Jesus with the world. But of course, it’s not always as easy as filling out a questionnaire.

Paul had to write to the Corinthians about recognizing and using their spiritual gifts because they struggled with this issue. They had questions about hierarchy and honor based on who had what gift and which gifts were better. If everybody felt equally respected—able to contribute the special skills and talents God gave them—Paul wouldn’t have needed to offer so much instruction about spiritual gifts.

Our churches may struggle with this issue too. People with the most visible gifts sometimes receive the most accolades and gratitude. People who work “behind the scenes” may feel unappreciated or ignored. As we all work together to serve God, it’s important to heed Paul’s reminder: “Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of services but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (vv. 4-7).

All of our gifts matter in the church because all of us matter to God. People are so gloriously different and unique; it takes each one of us working together to reach those in our community who need Jesus the most. May we remember that no matter what gifts we have, we all serve the same God, are filled with the same Spirit, and have the same goal—sharing the love of Christ.


• If you have taken a spiritual inventory, what was your result? Do you think it was accurate?
• Besides filling out a questionnaire, what are some ways that we become aware of our spiritual gifts?
• How are people’s spiritual gifts recognized and used in your church? Is there room for improvement?
• Why do you think spiritual gifts sparked so much contention among the Corinthians? Why does this still happen today?
• How can you and your church encourage people to discover and use their spiritual gifts together to share the love of Jesus?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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