Keys to Finding Your Spiritual Gifts


Probably one of the most confusing things in all of Christendom is the identifying and application of one's spiritual gifts. This subject is tackled in many ways but I wish to bring to light some major characteristics which accompany the spiritual gifts. This is by no means an exhaustive listing but it will serve its purpose by helping a Christian identify in their own life some traits which synchronize with the spiritual gifts. In this manner, a believer will then be able to establish reasons for their peculiar actions which may have seemed unusual without a cause. Once a connection is made between behavior and thought patterns with traits of a spiritual gift, then this person is on their way to discovering their spiritual gift and finding their proper place in the service of God.


In this section I wish to classify the three sets of spiritual gifts which God gives us in the Scriptures and then I will make an attempt to distinguish each set of gifts. I was saved for about five years before I discovered my spiritual gifts. My two gifts are teaching and exhortation. I discovered my gift of teaching by reason of the fact that I do not mind being chained to a desk for long hours and receive much satisfaction when others profit from my studies. I found I love to teach Bible studies and just open the Word to believers plus God has given me a good understanding of Scripture through these studies.


When I discovered these things I realized there had to be a reason for it. When I began a study of the gifts, God opened my eyes to the fact I had the gift of teaching. The discovery of my gift of exhortation came out of my method of teaching God's principles to the Saints. I had begun to write studies which were biblically based and which consistently carried the expression of encouragement and motivation of the believer.

This is my personal testimony of how I discovered my spiritual gifts and I will be bold to say that you too will find this an efficient way to identify your spiritual gifts. I deeply believe that your actions are directly related to your spiritual gifts. Your actions and your attitudes are the key to finding your spiritual gifts. This will become apparent as you ponder the outward actions of the model people which I believe represent the gifts that we will discuss. May God guide you and build you up as you seek His place for your ministry.



The provisional gifts are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11:

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; {9} To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; {10} To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: {11} But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.  (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, KJV)


These gifts are also commonly called "the sign gifts" which were exclusive to the church in its embryonic stage. These gifts were definitely temporary. When the Bible was completed, six of these temporary gifts were transferred to all believers throughout history and will be till the last day. Three of them ceased when the completion of the Bible occurred. These three will be the first ones we will examine.


TONGUES - A language especially a learned one. This gift was given when the Bible was nearing completion and God was still giving direct messages to the church via the spoken word. It was used to bring God's message to those of different languages as plainly seen in Acts 2:4-12.


INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES - This gift was required in the church of Corinth because their gift of tongues was different from those of Acts. The tongues of Corinth were a phenomenon which required an interpreter for the church. The tongues in Acts were established languages (Acts 2:6). The tongues of Corinth also carried messages from God.


PROPHECY - This gift was one which also received messages from God and relayed them to the people akin to the prophets of old. These people were to declare God's Word to the church. These messages were verbal in nature.


As you can plainly see these three gifts were involved with receiving messages from God on a verbal note. Since the Bible was completed we no longer have any need for new divine communication since God has told us in Revelation 22:18-19 that He will no longer communicate with us verbally but will communicate with us by means of His Word, the completed Bible. These legitimate gifts ceased because there were no longer a need for them.


For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: {19} And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19, KJV)


The second part of the provisional gifts are the ones which were made available to every Christian since the completion of the Bible. I will list them and give scriptural reference for each one.



If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5, KJV)


No longer is wisdom a gift to be enjoyed by a few but it is available to every believer as the verse teaches us.



But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18, KJV)


Here is a good example that the gift of knowledge has become universal in the body of Christ. With the completion of the Bible we can come to a knowledge of Christ and God without a special spiritual gift.



For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17, KJV)


Who are the just? The just are every born again believer. With that in mind, we see the gift of faith is no longer needed since every child of God is to live by faith. Nowhere except in the early church does God call this a gift. After the completion of the Bible He expects every believer to exercise faith and we are not to refer to those people with great faith as having the gift of faith, because this is not biblical.  Faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and given to every true believer.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  (Galatians 5:22, KJV)



Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1, KJV)


No longer must we seek out the gift of discerning of spirits to help us determine if a doctrine is false. With the completion of the Bible, we have all that is needed to verify a doctrinal teaching.



But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8, KJV)


The word "miracle" in 1 Corinthians 12:10 is the Greek word "dunamis" which means "power, force, or ability." This word has nothing to do with miracles as we know them today. For example, a miracle would be an instantaneous replacement of a lost limb or a withered hand which is made whole or someone raised from the dead. If you would take a concordance, you would see that this word is specifically used in the context of spreading the gospel. The miracle worked today is the miracle of salvation. This gift is also universal in the body of Christ since every born again Christian is endued with the power of God, the Holy Spirit.



Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)


Before the completion of the Scriptures, God used the healing of the sick to show visually what salvation is like. The sick person represented a sinful person and the healed person represented a saved person. God used physical healing for the sole purpose of showing the difference between the saved and the unsaved. Every healing was a visual parable, the earthly story with the heavenly meaning.


There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus can heal today but it is in response to two methods:


THE WILL OF GOD - Many times we see unbelievers who were healed of a deadly disease. Now the unbeliever chalks it up to luck or modern medicine, but they never give God the credit, even though they might give God or “the Man upstairs” a passing   thought.


FERVENT PRAYER - Many times God will allow sickness in a family or church to arouse an apathetic group. He may heal in response to the sincere prayers of His people. I know of a woman who was cured of terminal cancer by God in response to the prayers of an entire church.


The type of healing that is with us today is spiritual healing. This is why in James 5, we are exhorted to send for the elders of the church. If we are physically sick, then we see a medical doctor or nutritionist, but when it comes to spiritual affairs, we invoke the elders of the church for prayer and counsel. Galatians 6:1 tells us that we are to restore a believer who is caught up in a sin. This is the type of healing God has in view for the believer. For the unbeliever, the healing God has in view is becoming saved. God is more interested in healing our spiritual sickness than our physical sickness, which He does with great joy if it is His will to do so.


Spiritual healing focuses on eternity's values, while physical healing focuses on temporal values. Out of these two, which one is important? Whenever a believer opens the Word of God and begins to declare it to someone, they are in essence initiating spiritual healing in that person's life. This is the type of healing we Christians shall partake of and pursue, not physical healing. Miraculous physical healing was never part of God's great commission. We are to teach all nations, not physically heal all nations. With biblical references we have concluded that the provisional gifts were turned into universal gifts in the body of Christ, except for three of them which were discontinued by the end of the first century.



The next set of gifts we need to decipher is known as the "Office Gifts." These are found in Ephesians 4:11-12. The office gifts were given for the purpose of the assignment of individual ministries which in the aggregate would constitute the church universal in its optimum mode of existence. Each Christian is given a spiritual gift which when combined with the gifts of others would allow a local assembly of believers to be fully equipped to fulfill the mandate of the Great Commission. Every Christian has at least one of the office gifts. The office gifts are specific ministries with specific tasks attached to each one.


APOSTLES - "one who is sent"

The apostles of the early church were those who received messages directly from Christ and who saw Him. They were the catalysts of the local churches. They were eyewitnesses to the miracles and/or teachings of Christ.


Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; (Luke 1:2, KJV)


Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. (2 Corinthians 12:12, KJV)


As the church began to expand, the word "apostle" began to take on a wider meaning and began to include those who were not eyewitnesses but were considered testimonies of the gospel of Christ. Barnabas was considered to be an apostle. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, (Acts 14:14, KJV) There is no biblical evidence that he ever saw the Lord with his eyes. So as we see in Scripture, the term was widened in its usage to the point that all believers are, in essence, apostles, because we are sent. The Great Commission is our marching orders. We do not receive any new revelation but we use the Scriptures as our source of truth, plus every believer is a testimony to the grace of God.


PROPHETS - "One who declares God's Word"

I believe this gift has remained unchanged from the early church. The prophet was and is the person who declares God's Word, which means his entire life and mind are programmed to Scripture. He is the spiritual shop steward who raises the flag every time an incorrect doctrine is taught. He keeps the local assembly and the leaders biblically correct. His points of contention may seem petty but it must be remembered that a huge tree grows out of a small seed. So it is with false doctrines. All it needs is a foot in the door and it will begin to mushroom uncontrollably. If you think it cannot happen in your church, look around to the major denominations that were bastions of truth just 50 years ago.


EVANGELISTS - "Bringer of Good News"

This person has the ability to speak to large groups of people. They speak mainly on the redemptive part of the gospel. The evangelist is concerned with dispensing the gospel to as many people as possible. They view the spread of the gospel as their only reason of existence. They possess a burning desire in their souls to tell of the salvation God gives to man. Now in the smaller sense of the word, each believer is an evangelist. Each time you give a tract to someone or verbally witness, you are bringing the good news. You do it on a smaller scale and the evangelist does it on a larger scale.


PASTORS - "Shepherds"

The pastor is normally the head of a local assembly, having oversight of the flock. He is the spiritual leader and cares for all his people on an equal basis. He is there to encourage, counsel, motivate, and discipline. There is a little "pastor" in each of us as we minister to others or disciple them, we are being a shepherd to them. A godly pastor will show very good leadership ability. Those with dictatorial attitudes do not possess the gift of pastor.


TEACHERS - "An Instructor"

The teacher is the person who lives to dispense information. The teacher takes the Word of God and doles out information from it in a systematic way which will both inform and build up the Christian. The teacher's gift is so intense, they teach whether they are in an official or unofficial capacity. A teacher will be unable to stay in a church where they are not permitted or encouraged to exercise their gift. This is not pride but is the gift which God has placed within them for teaching and helping others to understand the Bible. The teacher also filters information to determine if certain teachings are true.


• NOTE: Many pastors claim the title "Pastor-teacher" which they believe is one gift and not two. I have sought many Greek references and have not found these words to be one. The two words are always found with "kai" between them which is translated "and." It separates two distinct words. In verse 11-13 the word "tous" which translates "the" is found before each of the gifts listed, except teachers. It seems that pastors and teachers are two distinct gifts. One reason I believe this is there are many gifted women teachers out there yet God forbids them to be pastors. If it is one gift then the women must become pastors to teach which would violate God's word. A pastor may have the gift of teaching which would coincide beautifully with his office of pastor.



These gifts are most important because it is through these we determine what our ministry is and where we are best suited to serve. These seven gifts prepare us for the office gifts. They may also help us determine our vocation. They are found in Romans 12:6-8.


Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; {7} Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; {8} Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8, KJV)


I now offer the following traits, which I believe, will help you identify your spiritual gift(s) so you may begin to develop it, and then you will find your proper place of service.



Definition: To speak forth, prophetic declarations, exhortations and warnings

Characteristics: Elijah

Scripture: 1 Kings 18


Vs 1 - They are programmed to Scripture because they are motivated by Scripture.  They are normally heard asking the question, "Where do you read that in the Bible?"

Vs 18 - Have a note of warning in their speech.

Vs 18 - They will normally point out specific sins.

Vs 19 - They normally will have a confrontational spirit.

Vs 19 - They normally emphasize the judgment of God.

Vs 21 - They offer black and white solutions.

Vs 22 - They sometimes believe they are alone when it comes to understanding truth.

Vs 27 - They seem to have an uncaring or caustic personality.

Vss 37-39 - They usually bring people back to the Lord by fear.

Vs 46 - There is always a sense of urgency in their life.



Definition: Service, Servant, or Attendance

Characteristics: Timothy

Scripture: Selected


Acts 17:15 - A desire to serve others.

Acts 19:21-22 - They are happy to follow orders and be support personnel.

1 Corinthians 4:17 - They are faithful servants.

1 Corinthians 16:10 - They have an inner joy serving others.

Philippians 2:20 - They are fulfilled while serving others.

Philippians 2:21-22 - They look for opportunities to serve others.

1 Thessalonians 3:6 - They serve without complaining.

1 Timothy 1:2 - They are happy to be disciples.

1 Timothy 1:18-20 - They do not fear hindrances to God's work but view them as opportunities.

Philemon 1 - The servant identifies with the teacher, master, or project at hand.



Definition: Comfort, Entreat, To call to one, Call near, or Call for.

Characteristics: Paul

Scripture: Selected


Romans 6:6-7 & 11-13 - The Exhorter desires to give precise steps of action in stimulating a believer to growth.

1 Corinthians 1:10 - The Exhorter takes a person at the point of where they are and encourages them to grow.

2 Corinthians 7:3 - The Exhorter does not condemn but makes no excuse for sin either.

Galatians 3:1 - The Exhorter counsels on a personal basis and avoids programmed procedures.

Philippians 1:12 - The Exhorter sees tribulation as a method of spiritual growth.

Colossians 1:9-12 - The Exhorter desires to see the Christian reach their maximum spiritual potential.

Colossians 1:28 - The Exhorter sees the full potential of every believer.

1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 - The Exhorter stays with someone until they are restored.



Definition: Share or Impart

Characteristics: Matthew

Scripture: Book of Matthew

Matthew must have had the gift of giving since he penned many principles of handling money in the book named after him. Tithing does not mean you have the gift of giving!


5:42 - The Giver has inward joy giving to those who have need.

5:46-47 - The Giver does not expect nor require a pay back.

6:1-4 - The Giver desires to give in secret.

6:19-20 - The Giver has the ability to make wise investments.

6:24 -The Giver views money as a vehicle not a goal.

6:25 - The Giver is satisfied with the basic necessities of life.

7:6 - The Giver is very cautious where they invest their money.

10:8 - The Giver sees the money in their possession as God's and He has the right to claim it for His needs.

10:9 - The Giver is frugal.

10:38 - Sacrificial giving is a way of life for the Giver.

13:46 - The Giver has the ability to make wise purchases.

16:26 - The Giver does not have an inward desire to stash away the Lord's money in worldly investments. If they do, it is in short term investments for easier access and no penalties.

18:8-9 - The Giver may rebuke a cheap Christian.



Definition: Preside or Set Over

Characteristics: Solomon

Scripture: Selected


1 Kings 3:8-9 - The Ruler sees himself as a servant with no self-ambitions.

1 Kings 3:23-28 - The Ruler is able to make wise and discerning judgments.

1 Kings 4:1-19 - The Ruler has the ability to delegate authority.

1 Kings 5:5 - The Ruler can see the big picture and results of a major project.

1 Kings 5:6, 13 - The Ruler can see what is needed to complete the task at hand.

1 Kings 5:8, 12 - The Ruler can deal rightly with other leaders.

1 Kings 5:14 - The Ruler has the ability to assign the right people to the right tasks.

1 Kings 6:38-7:1 - The Ruler has the desire to tackle and accomplish many tasks.

2 Chronicles 2:9 - The Ruler is a planner and a schedule keeper.

2 Chronicles 7:4-5 - The Ruler identifies himself with his people in a given task.

Proverbs 22:13 - The Ruler abhors excuses by lazy people.



Definition: To have the desire of relieving the miserable or to have pity upon by actually relieving them.

Characteristics: Apostle John

Scripture: The Gospel of John


John must have had the gift of mercy as he wrote much about merciful acts, plus he was the disciple whom Jesus trusted to care for his earthly mother. It is interesting to note that Jesus had earthly brothers and sisters yet John was given the task to care for Mary.


3:30 - Mercy puts the needs of others before their own needs.

4:9 - Mercy does not care if the person that needs help is an enemy.

4:14 - Mercy understands the deeper needs of others.

5:6 - Mercy will attach themselves to the poor and helpless, in both material and spiritual areas.

5:8-9 - Mercy will remain with a person until healing or improvement happens.

6:15 - Mercy tends to shy away from public ministry or life.

6:26 - Mercy may become a mark for their sympathetic virtues.

7:3-4 - Mercy may be misunderstood that they are seeking notoriety.

9:2-3 & 6-7 - Mercy is more concerned about healing than cause.

11:35 - Mercy identifies with the sorrow someone is feeling.

11:36 - Mercy builds deeper friendships than normal.

18:10-11 - Mercy may rebuke people who cause pain.



Definition: Instruction or Instructor

Characteristics: Luke

Scripture: Luke 1:1-4


1 (MANY HAVE TAKEN IN HAND) - A teacher holds back information until all pertinent material is in.

2 A teacher is careful of their information sources. (Entire verse)

3 (IT SEEMED GOOD TO ME) - A teacher has an attitude of joy in doing research

3 (TO ME ALSO) - A teacher realizes he is part of the body of Christ and does not hold sole interpretation.

3 (PERFECT UNDERSTANDING) - A teacher will have optimum understanding of the material. ("perfect" denotes follow closely, trace, examine) The teacher does not accept another's teaching unless it completely harmonizes in the entire Bible.

3 (OF ALL THINGS) - A teacher is concerned with all facts and details.

3 (TO WRITE) - A teacher is happy to be chained to a desk for many hours.

3 (UNTO THEE) - A teacher personalizes the Scriptures for daily living.

3 (IN ORDER) - "Order" means in succession or consecutive order. The teacher has the desire to deliver truth in a systematic way.

4 (THAT THOU MIGHTEST KNOW) - The teacher is concerned that their hearers understand.

4 (THE CERTAINTY OF THOSE THINGS) - The teacher teaches with absolutes. "Certainty" means firmness, steadfastness, stability

4 (WHEREIN THOU HAST BEEN INSTRUCTED) - The teacher takes previously written material, tests it by Scripture and either clarifies it or rejects it.



"I don't even know if I have a spiritual gift" is the cry of many Christians. I have heard this statement from different Christians. The ones I heard it from are spiritually frustrated and do not seem to fit in anywhere. The results of this situation is you become a destabilizing element to those who know and are attempting to develop their spiritual gift. There are two very important reasons why Christians need to know their spiritual gift.


1) So You May Work Where God Has Qualified You

Have you ever called a plumber to wire up a house or called a carpenter to do Arthroscopic surgery? Of course not, while these people are all qualified to do a certain job, they are not qualified to do the wrong job. The same principle applies to the spiritual realm. God has given different gifts to different Christians because there are different ministries within the body of Christ. Picture this scenario within a local church: All givers but no teachers, this would result in a rich but spiritually illiterate church. All servants but no leaders would result in "Everyone doing what was right in their own eyes," and there would be chaos in the structure of the church.


Have you ever seen a zombie in a Sci-fi movie? This is how a Christian moves without knowing their spiritual gifts. We are spiritual zombies because we have no direction in our lives, owing to the fact we do not know what direction to go in. As soon as a believer discovers their spiritual gift, they immediately begin the task of developing that gift, and instantly direction will begin to appear. This direction will lead to a ministry you will feel comfortable with. The reason you will feel comfortable is that you are now developing the gift which God has placed within you. Spiritual frustration develops when a Christian attempts to develop a gift they do not have or wish they had. Their Christian walk will be one of frustration and envy when they see God using others instead of them.


2) God Has a Ministry for Every Believer

God did not save any Christian for the purpose of coming to church to listen to a sermon and then go home and wait till next week to hear another sermon. Many believers suffer frustration because they see no reason of existence. This is normally verbalized by the statement, "Why did God save me?" Believers will stagnate unless they seek that reason of existence. God has a plan for every believer to be utilized in the Great Commission, whether home or abroad.


One reason many Christians are frustrated is they have relegated ministry to the church leaders. They inwardly believe there is such a thing as the “chosen chosen,” in other words, those with gifted abilities and those without. This is nowhere found in the Bible. This is why we have much pastoral burnout and many Christians with excessive leisure time. One group is over-committed and the other group is under-committed. If every Christian would find and develop their spiritual gift, the Christian church would not be on the run from every cult, anti-Christian judge, or political pressure group.


The church would be mighty as God intended it to be. He gave the gifts for us to be empowered. If you choose to be idle, then you may expect defeat in your walk, but if you live in power according to your spiritual gifts, then you may suffer setbacks, but never overwhelming defeat. God requires faithfulness in a steward, and we are all stewards of the spiritual gifts He has given us. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. The time for idle living is over, because it is almost too late.  (1 Corinthians 4:2, KJV)