“Much to my dismay, I’ve found that the Christian life consists of quite a lot more than simply ‘knowing’ my top five spiritual gifts.”

In my time during college and post-grad, I’ve seen how the words “Calling” and “Purpose” have become a core component of people’s identities. Christians and non-Christians alike devote time to discovering their purpose, and finding their calling. In fact, the reason some people come to church in the first place is because, if anyone is going to know what their purpose is, it’s going to be God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

God promises great plans for the Israelites, and surely God has great plans for us as well! In Paul’s letters we read about a variety of spiritual gifts that believers are given, so it would make sense that God, the Almighty, in his great plans, has created each of us with the specific gifts that define our role and our purpose in the world.

There was a time where I felt so drawn to this idea of God crafting this beautiful blueprint for my life that I even took a spiritual gifts survey, much like a personality test, that determined my spiritual gifts for me (I’ve actually probably taken multiple tests). After finding out my top five gifts, researching what gifts I had and which ones I didn’t have, and finally, rearranging my ranking order for what spiritual gifts I determined to be the most accurate, I had, at last, captured God’s plan for my life in 90 minutes. I could now stride forward in confidence, for I knew the great purpose for my life…minus some of the small details of who, when, how, and where. 

Much to my dismay, I’ve found that the Christian life consists of quite a lot more than simply “knowing” my top five spiritual gifts. I’ve struggled with times when I wasn’t in positions to utilize my gifts, and was distraught when I saw people that were significantly better than me with my gifts. With this perspective on spiritual gifts, I felt either useless to the kingdom, or at best, sub-par. It wasn’t the beautiful blueprint that I had thought it to be.

I wasn’t alone in seeing spiritual gifts in this way. I believe many Christians are concerned that they aren’t useful, or at least not optimally performing their role for the kingdom of God. As I’ve matured in my faith, I’ve reflected on what the Bible actually says about spiritual gifts. I’ve wrestled with how calling and spiritual gifts are related. And ultimately, I’ve wrestled with my purpose. Thankfully, the Bible has a lot to say about spiritual gifts, and about our purpose! God didn’t intend for his people to be confused and frustrated with the gifts He has given to us. He does have those great plans for us and wants us to use our gifts well, but our perspective on spiritual gifts can often get in the way of His plan for us.

To learn more about what the Bible says about spiritual gifts and viewing spiritual gifts in the modern context, please feel free to listen to the audio from our summer seminar, Should We Pursue Spiritual Gifts?

Mark Gong

Mark is a member of Cornerstone and has served as a ministry intern for the past six months. His areas of ministry focus include community outreach and youth.

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