Are you aware of what your spiritual gift is? If so, what are you doing to get better at using it? If not, how can you find out? Who can assist you?
I had the pleasure of attending New Life Assembly of God as a graduate student and as a young married man. Our pastor, John M. Palmer was dedicated to equipping and releasing the saints (i.e., followers of Jesus) for the work of the ministry, or the church. I saw firsthand how pastor John and the church leaders recruited men and women for service, taught them about service, helped them identify their spiritual gift(s), gave them opportunity to learn how to exercise their gift(s), and provided situations to practice using their gift(s), and gave feedback to each person as they gained confidence in using their gift(s).
Pastor John was secure in his identity and leadership and would often defer to people such as altar workers who had been prepared to pray for people who came forward at the end of a sermon for prayer. While pastor John was trained and qualified to pray for anyone, he allowed others of us to step forward to pray. We learned that we could be used by the Lord to minister to one another and accomplish His purposes as members of the Body of Christ.
You cannot imagine the excitement of men and women who were trained and encouraged to use their gift(s) and lead in their particular area of ministry (i.e., nursery, Sunday school, home Bible studies, worship teams, visitation ministry, and so on). We not only grew in our confidence that God could use us, but we grew in our skill and competence.
Having played on some championship athletic teams, I saw a similar dynamic happening in church. We had mostly “players” and very few “spectators” at New Life. All of us were engaged in “being the church” and doing our best to handle our responsibilities with joy.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
The apostle Paul described God’s ideal environment for His church. While some might expect the pastor (and any other paid staff) to do everything, Paul wrote the role of pastoral leaders is to equip the people to do the work. Often people expect the people up on the platform (or stage), the one(s) who are always out in front, the more prominent ones, to do the majority of the labor. After all, isn’t that why they are paid? The pastor went to Bible school, and/or seminary. He or she knows so much, and they are trained, aren’t they? Or our Sunday school teacher has taught that class for years. There is no way I could do that job.
The apostle Paul wrote deliberately and extensively about the way the church is supposed to function. Besides the passage above, take a look at Romans chapter 12 and Ephesians chapter 4. When a person puts their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, they automatically become a member of God’s family (i.e., the Body of Christ). They are given spiritual gifts for works of service so that the Body may be built up as each person does their part (see 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesians 4:12). Leaders are there to equip them for work.
We all possess different gifts that complement one another. Like Paul wrote to the church Corinth, all of us are needed and none is more important than another.
If Pastor John was insecure and threatened by other’s participation at New Life, he would have stunted the growth God intended. He could have sabotaged God’s purposes. But he didn’t. He followed Paul’s instructions and showed us that church is everybody’s job.
Live communally. Do your part to grow the Body of Christ. Use your spiritual gift(s).
Love is a verb,
©2020 by Mike Olejarz