Given that we have motivational or redemptive gifts built into who and what we are, how do we identify them? How do we best use them? The simple answer to the second question is that we use them in the service of His kingdom. The identification part is harder to answer. I believe if we take the time to step back and look at our lives we can see our motivations at play. However, this type of seeing is helped by understanding. There are charts and formulas used to identify motivational gifts, however, I think a better process is to look at the meaning of the words in context.
One qualifier is that the same gift can manifest in different ways in different people. You can have two people who are both skilled teachers but who present very differently. The fruit you want to look for is whether their teaching establishes people and creates in them a hunger for more.
Some have an anointing for speaking, some for writing and some both. I have read numerous books from one well known leader yet initially found their messages pretty much dry as dust. They have improved over the years but are certainly not gripping. Another well-known leader has a powerful anointing on what they speak. I can remember the content of messages I heard over two decades ago. I still have to struggle to get through any of their books. The same gift or anointing manifests in different ways in different individuals.
So here is Romans 12:6-8 again and a breakdown of the gifts.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8 (NKJV)
- Prophecy – this is knowing God’s mind in the moment. Speaking life into situations and discerning the direction to go.
- Ministry/Serving – this is a heart to serve and support others to see their destiny realized.
- Teaching – this is sharing information that builds others up.
- Exhorting/Encouraging – this is coming alongside others encouraging and challenging them.
- Giving – this is a desire to give or impart to others to see them established in their calling and purpose.
- Leading – this is a calling to lead and support others. To see problems and bring solutions.
- Mercy – this is showing compassion toward the hurting and wounded. Being active on their behalf.
When we reflect on the list we can likely discern these motivations operating in the lives of others. I can think of friends who operate in more than one area but I see one that is dominant. What do we see in our own lives? Reflecting on my own life I see teaching as the driver. Whether I view it as a foundation or the hub of a wheel it is what supports everything else.
For example, I am leading a small group with a focus on worship and hearing His voice. The last couple of times we have met when we have prayed for someone we have had them sit in a chair with others gathered around. That is not unusual. However what I have done as part of the ministry is ask those praying how they are hearing. Is it an image, a feeling/sense, a scripture coming to mind or something else? The person being prayed for is asked how this fits in their current situation and if it makes sense to them. The qualifier is at the beginning not asking the person in the chair what they want prayer for.
The driver for me doing this is teaching even though what is happening may be encouraging, prophecy or showing mercy. I want people to leave having encountered Jesus and having learned something that strengthens them in their walk.
I will share one more example of motivation. I don’t fit well in large crowds of people I don’t know. A driver for me in teaching is spending timing thinking and reflecting. I was in my late 20’s when I began to figure this out. I was at a work event with a large number of people. The venue was in a park and since I knew very few people I ended up going for a walk at lunch time rather than trying to interact with people I didn’t really know (yes, my gift is not evangelism!). I find I am driven to have this type of time to reflect and think and that it energizes my teaching gift.
This was the first time I recognized that it was okay to want to be alone and not try to fit into a crowd. Later as I reflected back on my life I realized I had been spending time by myself tramping around in the outdoors since I was in elementary school. I grew up in a small town in the north and we lived in the edge of town. I could walk out of our vegetable garden, cross the road and be in the woods. I did this a lot by myself or with my dog.
So, look at your own life and reflect on it. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you patterns and the motivations behind them. Ask Him to breathe fresh life on the gift of who you are for the service of the body and see what unfolds.