They sit in a circle, heads bowed, praying for the task before them. After the “Amen” their eyes meet, then drop to the sheets full of empty slots before them.
An Answer for the Nominating Committee
By Daisy Hall
They sit in a circle, heads bowed, praying for the task before them. After the “Amen” their eyes meet, then drop to the sheets full of empty slots before them. Half of the Sabbath school teachers have resigned, the Adventurer Club director is burned out, and the couple previously leading outreach ministries has moved away.
Church directory in hand, the nominating committee ponders who might possibly be willing to take on one of the empty slots. Then they begin making phone calls, practically begging members of the congregation to consider one of the vacant church offices. Everyone they call agrees that someone should do these jobs; but as the nominating committee members well know, it’s incredibly hard to find those willing to actually fill the empty slots.
The New Testament provides counsel on how to fill our local church’s ministries so that the nominating committee is not left desperately looking for anyone willing to fill a slot. In fact, God gave us an amazing way to avoid this situation altogether by bestowing spiritual gifts to church members.
Spiritual gifts are abilities given to God’s followers by the Holy Spirit. These gifts could be called talents, but they are really much more. People can be talented at crossword puzzles or standing on one foot, but spiritual gifts are special abilities given to each person with the intent that they will use them to support and grow God’s church and to do their part to fulfill the Great Commission.
Everyone Has a Gift
Every single member of God’s church has a spiritual gift, and we are instructed to use our gifts to bless others. First Peter 4:10 tells us that “as each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Spiritual gifts are not traits we can own. They come directly from God, chosen for each person specifically by Him. God expects us to take care of them and use them for their intended purpose.
Our gifts may not stay the same throughout our entire lives. If we are faithful stewards of one gift, God may bless us with another, as with the servants who wisely invested their talents in Jesus’ parable. At some point in our lives our gifts may completely change. Situations and the needs of our communities change, and God is always able to mold us into that which would be most useful in advancing His kingdom.
Although there are many different kinds of gifts, the same Spirit is responsible for all of them. Paul put it this way: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. . . . But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:4-11).
Much like the fruit of the Spirit, spiritual gifts are the result of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. If we have accepted the Holy Spirit into our hearts to change us to be more like Christ and to do His work, we have also accepted the gift from the Spirit to help us accomplish that work.
Some of the spiritual gifts listed in Scripture include wisdom, knowledge, healing, prophecy, teaching, administration, giving, mercy, faith, evangelism, and craftsmanship, to name only a few (1 Cor. 12:8-10, 28; Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:11; Ex. 31:3). There are a wide variety of gifts, and each one is essential to bringing about the kingdom.
Using Your Gift
There is a place within our church’s ministries for people with every kind of gift that God sees fit to bless us with. Some gifts may have more obvious applications than others. Those with the gift of healing can become health-care professionals. Those with a gift for teaching can use that gift in many different ways within and outside the Adventist Church. Such gifts as giving, mercy, and faith do not correspond to a specific ministry; rather, they affect each ministry and can be applied in many different contexts. No gift is greater than any other, and God expects all of them to be used.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 Paul compared the church to the human body. A body is made up of many different parts that all have different roles. If some parts aren’t functioning correctly, the whole body suffers. In the church, every member of the body plays a vital role in the mission entrusted by Jesus. If we joyfully anticipate Jesus’ return, we can’t leave all the work to our pastors, teachers, or leaders. “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be smelling? But now God has set the members, each of them, in the body just as He pleased” (verses 17, 18). The church body needs each of its members to be fully functioning to accomplish its God-given tasks.
Spiritual gifts are an incredibly important part of our fundamental beliefs. We Seventh-day Adventists believe that God has given us a work to do, and spiritual gifts are His way of equipping us to accomplish that work. As such, we need to discover what our spiritual gifts are, then put them to good use. By consulting with church leaders and with the Lord in prayer, every church member can discover their spiritual gifts and get started working in their ministry. The prospect of finding our unique roles within the church can be daunting. However, by giving us these gifts, God has enabled us not only to do these jobs but to excel at them. We can trust Him to choose each gift personally and appropriately. When we do, we can accomplish more for His kingdom than we ever thought possible. n
Daisy Hall is a homeschooled high school senior living with her family in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. She enjoys writing, education theory, and road trips.
God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love. (Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:9-11, 27, 28; Eph. 4:8, 11-16; Acts 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Peter 4:10, 11.)
Spiritual gifts are not traits we can own.
Spiritual gifts are His way of equipping us to accomplish that work.