In Creole dialect, they have a word, lagniappe (pronounced LAN-yap), which means something extra beyond what you paid for. It’s usually a little extra soup in the pot or a little extra grain in the bag, but it is always gratuitous, gracious, extra.
Consider this blog a little lagniappe regarding the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, also known as Spiritual Gifts, or the Gifts of the Body or Gifts for Ministry, or Charismata in Greek. On Sunday, February 15, 2015, I preached a sermon entitled “The Way of Jesus - I am Called to Serve," because all of Jesus' followers are called to serve his Church.
Oakland is awesome at serving. It is one of our collective, corporate strengths, and I celebrate it weekly. Still, I want every one of our servants to serve in ways that give them life, that fill them with joy, and that fulfill real needs in the Church and community. I want you to crave opportunities to use your gifts to bless people. You are called to serve not as a warm body in a bureaucracy, but as a gifted member of God’s family.
When I am operating within my primary gifts of Knowledge, Teaching, and Preaching, it feels like someone plugged me into the wall. It feels like I’m finally doing what I was made to do – to show people how every aspect of life is informed and reformed by Jesus.
Like I said on Sunday, the chief of all charismata is “eternal life through Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:23). The Holy Spirit applies Christ’s finished, saving work on the Cross to each of us. In plain English that means the Holy Spirit gives us credit for everything Christ has, including a perfect life and a perfect relationship with God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a tangible proof of this gift, the Holy Spirit gives individuals particular gifts. In that sermon, I spoke specifically about the gifts named in Romans 12:4-8, but there are plenty of other gifts named in the Bible, especially 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 and 12:28.
To give you an idea of what gifts are possible, and begin the process of serving with your gifts for your joy and the community’s benefit, I suggest a Spiritual Gift Assessment. There is no science to finding your gift, and a one-size-fits-all test is certainly not failproof, but Spiritual Gift Assessments provide great starting points for discovering your God-given gifts. They cause you to think about the things you do instinctively and joyfully. Our gifts often feel “natural” or like “the obvious right thing to do,” so we can take them for granted.
For years, I have used this Spiritual Gift Assessment published by Lifeway. It is not perfect, but is a trustworthy tool to start discernment. It includes brief descriptions of each gift, and even suggestions for places to serve. It is a Self-Scored Survey in PDF format, so it is great for pencil-and-paper kind of folk.
If you’re more of a “let the computer do the math” kind of person, then I recently discovered and tried out 2 other tests at SpiritualGiftsTest.com. As cheesy as the name sounds, they provide more than adequate descriptions of each gift, and the survey is full of refreshingly normal questions.
You are welcome to take and compare both tests. As you seek to find your gifts and seek to implement them in service, I’d love to chat personally. If you’d like some help, call the office to set up a chance to chat.