I’m amazed at the complexity of the human body. While I have no desire to be a medical professional, I’m in awe of how many doctors have various specialties, whether it’s someone who studies retinas or orthopedics.
Personally, I’ve been learning more and more about the amazing world of how our bodies function. A few months ago, I had a routine bone density scan. Little did I know that one scan would lead me on a path of multiple tests and doctor’s appointments after it was revealed I had significant bone loss for someone my age.
The culprit has turned out to be some problems with at least one of my parathyroid glands. I didn’t even know I had one of them, much less four. These tiny glands that lie behind the thyroid regulate your body’s level of calcium. They are normally the size of a tiny grain of rice, yet they play an important role in the way our body functions. I had no idea.
This whole learning process has reminded me of how Paul described the function of the body of Christ—the church, both the local church and the global church. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul went to great lengths to describe how the body of Christ is one, but there are many parts. We are all given the same Holy Spirit at the point of conversion, yet each of us plays a significant role in how the church functions. Just like a small parathyroid gland, if you are a believer, no matter how little you think you might be gifted, you have a significant role in making sure the body of Christ is functioning properly and thriving. And when something isn’t working properly, it either needs to be removed or corrected to bring the body back to health.
The result of the Holy Spirit living in each of us is found in the distribution of spiritual gifts. This is not your personality type. It is not your leadership strength. It is not your talent. It is the God-given gifts you are called to use to edify both our local church and the greater church as a whole.
You can find various passages in the New Testament that list or reference spiritual gifts, including Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; and Ephesians 4. All of these lists point to the fact that our gifts are part of our God-given assignment. You don’t get to choose which gift or gifts you have, but they are given out of grace. In fact, the Greek word for spiritual gift comes from charisma, which means grace.1 When you accept Christ as your Savior, He gives you a grace-gift that is part of your assignment to help the body of the church function properly. When you use your gift, you not only strengthen the church, but you will personally find fulfillment and joy each time you use it. They are not assignments that result in dread or hesitation, but when used properly, using your gifts produces meaningful and purposeful results. If you’re looking for purpose in your life, then discovering your spiritual gift is a good place to start!
As a leader, here are three things you can do to help women become familiar with spiritual gifts and how they can be used properly.
First, help women identify their spiritual gifts. Lots of spiritual gift assessments are available online, including some links here. These assessments are only meant to help women discover the possibilities based on answering questions, but real results often occur when women are encouraged to actually practice using their gifts. Help women discover what brings them joy when serving. Do they easily share their faith? Maybe they have the gift of evangelism. Do they have natural leadership? Then help them explore the gift of leadership and administration. If you lead a ministry team, encourage them to learn more about spiritual giftedness and how it can make a difference in your church or your ministry.
Second, affirm women when you see them using a spiritual gift and equip them to grow in their gift. Watch the way women gravitate towards certain tasks. Do they seem to communicate God’s Word in a way that others can understand more clearly? If so, encourage her to lead a Bible study or to teach a small group. Do you find that some women have the ability to make people feel welcome, whether it’s at church or in their homes? Encourage them to use their gift of hospitality. Provide resources to encourage and equip others to exercise their gifts. Ask them to pray about new ministries that are fueled out of their gifts. Just as a coach finds the strength of their players and determines who is best for various positions, you can coach women to best use the gifts you call out in them.
Third, equalize the gifts of all women. It’s so easy to give accolades to someone who seems to have a spiritual gift that everyone sees, such as teaching, but just like the small parathyroid gland, you have women that may have unseen gifts that are equally important to the vitality of the church. Help women see that whether their gift is serving, hospitality, or generosity, when working together, they fulfill what Paul said in Ephesians 4:12-13, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” (CSB).
The next time you gather with your team or group, begin a discussion about spiritual gifts and look for ways the body of Christ can be strengthened and unified through the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s time for a spiritual checkup.
Kelly D. King is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide for Leading Women in the Local Church. You can hear Kelly at Lifeway’s You Lead events that are held in several cities around the country or listen to her co-host the Marked Podcast with Elizabeth Hyndman.
1. Strong’s G5486, Blue Letter Bible, accessed April 23, 2021, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5486.