Anglican Perspectives

Gifted By the Spirit

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Many of you have probably taken the Myers-Briggs personality test. You may recognize it more by the four letters that were the results of the test – ENFP, ISTJ, ESFJ, etc. What you may not know is that Romans 12:4-8 is quoted immediately after the dedication page of the book, Gifts Differing, from which the test is developed. The dedication says, “To all who desire to make fuller use of their gifts.”  

While the Myers Briggs wasn’t originally intended to be a personality test, we all understand the desire to know ourselves and our gifts better. Romans 12:4-8 details some of the Father’s gifts to us through his Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this passage, two sets of gifts given to those who believe are discussed: gifts which involve speaking—prophesying, teaching, and encouraging; and gifts that involve service—serving, contributing, leading, and showing mercy (Stott, The Message of Romans, 326).  All are gifts of God’s grace to us. 

The first gift that Paul details in this passage is prophesy which is “speaking under divine inspiration” (Stott, 326).  While some believe that prophesy is a gift that ended when the church was formed in the book of Acts, God hasn’t changed since that time nor have the gifts of the Spirit. While we don’t have major or minor prophets speaking to us like Isaiah or Micah spoke to Israel, God still speaks to his people today if we’ll take the time to listen. 

Someone with a prophetic gift might be able to say something in just the right way to make a significant impact on another person’s understanding of the Lord or of a situation in their life. Or a prophetically gifted person might be able to cut through the mire of a discussion to speak the bottom-line truth clearly and succinctly. Most importantly, any prophetic word given must never contradict the truths of scripture. In addition, Paul tells us to “eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” because those who prophesy speak to us for our “strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (I Cor 14:3).

The other “speaking” gifts listed by Paul are teaching and encouraging. Someone with a gift of teaching can make their subject matter clear, engaging, and understandable while someone with a gift of encouragement might also exhort, comfort, reconcile, console, counsel, befriend the lonely, or give courage to someone who’s lost heart (Stott, 328).

Next, Paul also lists gifts of “service.” Those who have the gift of service are the first to jump in and help whenever there is a need, and they find fulfillment in doing so. Those who have the gift of generosity give freely to the work of God’s kingdom in addition to their tithe, and it brings them great joy. Those with the gift of leadership naturally guide and direct a group effectively while gaining the respect of those they lead. Those with the gift of mercy naturally show compassion to aliens, widows, orphans, the handicapped, the sick, or the dying (Stott, 328).  

The next logical question when considering the gifts of the Spirit is how we discern which gifts we’ve been given to serve the Body of Christ and to witness to a watching world. Primarily, we need to pray to determine the gifts that he’s given us, and as we pray, one primary motivational gift may begin to emerge. If the list of gifts in Romans 12 doesn’t strike a chord, we may also want to consider the other spiritual gifts detailed in Ephesians 4 and I Corinthians 12.

Next, we might consider experiences we’ve had in the church or in the world to confirm what we’ve sensed in prayer. Often, our primary gifts have been hard-wired into our hearts by God. For example, Eric Little, of Chariots of Fire fame, said that he felt God’s pleasure when he ran. As we consider our experiences, we may begin to see patterns emerge in what brings us greatest joy. This delight is from the Lord, and he wants to use that delight in the service of his kingdom.

After we pray and consider our experiences, others in the Body of Christ can also help discern what God might be saying about our spiritual gifts. As we get to know one another more deeply through worship and fellowship, we’re better able to encourage one another in the gifts we see in each other. As Paul says in Romans 12: 4-5: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  

Do you believe that we belong to the other members of the Body of Christ to work together to build the kingdom of God? If so, let’s encourage each another to discern the spiritual gifts that God’s given us and use them enthusiastically to serve one another and to reach out into the community. 

God wants us to flourish in our spiritual gifts to bless and serve those who have yet to believe and those who have yet to hear. As we exercise our gifts within the community, we create opportunities for others to see and experience Christ in and through his Body.

So, as God looks to expand his kingdom through his Church, what gift do you contribute to the Body? If you’re not sure, I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal the spiritual gifts he’s given you for his kingdom purposes. Ask others to pray with and for you to receive confirmation from the body of Christ so that his kingdom is expanded, and his name is praised as you use your spiritual gifts for his glory.  

Bev is a Deacon in the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas. In her role with the American Anglican Council, she directs the Daniel Leadership Institute which encompasses the Lay Leadership Academy, the Clergy Leadership Academy, and the Bishops Leadership Academy. To find out more about the Daniel Leadership Institute, visit

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