Next week is Session 3 of the Faith Journey Class at our church, Faith Baptist. During this session of our new members class, we will discuss concepts behind being created by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). I had the need to type out the notes in a document, so I thought I would post the work here in hopes you will read, consider for yourself, and be blessed.
According to Ephesians 2:10,” […] we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” A deeper understanding of who God is “shaping” you into, helps you have a better understanding of yourself. With that better understanding, we believe, you are more likely to fulfill God’s plans for your life in local ministry.
Please read through the following 5 S.H.A.P.E. principles and consider their implications for your life.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” 1 Corinthians 12:1
How to define spiritual gifts: A spiritual gift is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit to serve others and strengthen the Body of Christ.
Three Types of Spiritual Gifts:
- Functional Gifts – Ephesians 4:11-12
- Ministry offices (primarily of the church): apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
- Gifts of the Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
- Utterance Gifts, Revelation Gifts, Power Gifts
- Motivational Gifts – Romans 12
- prophecy, mercy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, and administration
It is very important to understand that not every Christian obviously and consistently exercises all the gifts of the Spirit at once. Yet, because the Spirit lives inside all Christians (1 Corinthians 3:16) it is very possible for any Christian to express any gift. Therefore, it is immature to boldly declare, “I don’t have that spiritual gift.” It is common that Christ-followers will actually use this as an excuse to dismiss commitments to potentially difficult spiritual disciplines like evangelism or financial giving.
Spend time considering your spiritual gifts. Also consider what could be your “spiritual gifts mix” – the handful of gifts which are most present and active. Take time to also recognize spiritual gifts you are weak in or may not be exercising. Pray God will strengthen you in these areas and equip you for His good works.
This expression of who you are is not necessarily “spiritual”. Think of passions you have that hold your attention and stir your emotions. Whenever you day dream, these are things you think about. If you have free time these are things you wish you could be doing.
- Or perhaps these are topics or causes that tug at your heart strings. Whenever you hear this topic discussed or you talk about a particular cause, you find yourself extremely interested and impassioned.
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
Often, this can be misunderstood. If the “passion” of your heart is a red convertible, it’s possible God may bless you with a hot rod. But what is more likely is the Psalmist is describing what happens as we grow in our relationship with God. He plants passions, desires, hopes, and interests in us for His purposes.
- This concept can be as simple as a golfer who loves to play golf. God has given him or her a passion for the sport. I cannot think of a better mission field than to play golf with a stranger for 4 hours.
- Perhaps you have a passion for improving education. You are particularly gifted in a subject or enjoy teaching. This passion is not just for your advancement, but a passion you can use to minister in the ministry of after school tutoring.
- My favorite story is the woman who used her passion for knitting. She and a group of stitchers knitted prayer shawls for children battling cancer at a local hospital.
What drives you? Who are the people you want to help? What are the needs you feel most drawn to? What causes are you most passionate about? No longer consider this simply your passion; rather consider how God has given you this heart-passion for a reason and seek to minister in this arena.
This concept is often perceived as “non-spiritual” in nature, too. Think of things you have been trained to do or certifications you have received. Nearly everyone has extra-curricular requirements of their jobs. There is always the chance you had to achieve a certification in a previous job you think you will likely never use again.
In Genesis 2:15 we learn that God created work. Therefore, as work is a pre-fall concept, we certainly understand our work has the potential to glorify God.
- There is no divide between “secular” and “sacred”.
Great examples of this principle are:
- A young man received his Commercial Driver’s License for his job as a soda delivery truck driver. Once he joined our church, he realized both our Student Ministry and Senior Adults Ministry is consistently in need of drivers with a CDL.
- A woman had a very successful career in hospitality management at a national hotel. The opportunities for her to volunteer and lead hospitality ministries within our church are endless; including first time visitor impressions, funeral meals, and after-church socials.
- If any of these church members divided their lives into “scared” and “secular”, they may have never seen how God desired to use their abilities to shape them into ministers of the Gospel.
Understanding the personality God has given you will help you more effectively express your spiritual gifts, heart passions, and abilities for His sake.
It is very important to understand that any man-made personality test is simply that, man-made. Our true identity is found in God’s truth and God’s love (consider week 1: our identity is in who God is and what God has done, not who we are and what we do). However, if used as a tool or a guide to better understand our tendencies, a personality test can help enlighten us on previously unconsidered truths about ourselves.
Consider visiting www.humanmetrics.com for a free, abbreviated personality test (I’m an ENFJ). Once you have taken it, click on and read through the explanation. If you are a Christ-follower, you can read this information through a biblical worldview. This is extremely valuable as you consider ministry opportunities. You can pray for and seek out opportunities that likely fit your personality best. But do remember, there are times God stretches us out of our comfort zones – so don’t use your personality as an excuse!!!
“Like stained glass, our different personalities reflect God’s light in many colors and patterns.”
– Rick Warren
When considering life experiences, we often have one of two reactions:
- Over emphasize great things that happen to us.
- Cover up bad things that happen to us.
- Both responses can lead to an unhealthy identity – being defined by what has happened to us.
Consider what the Bible teaches about life experiences:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-4
Many times, our life experiences are treated as things we survive, rather than things we can use for the glory of God. Often, our life experiences prepare us to be used uniquely by God in a specific circumstance or opportunity.
These are six significant arenas of life experiences to consider:
- Who in your life, including family, friends, and mentors, have influenced you the most? How? Why?
- How have meaningful spiritual decisions, as well as day-to-day spiritual disciplines, made you who you are?
- What have crises, challenges, and hurts taught you about yourself and, more importantly, about God?
- How have your educational experiences shaped you?
- How have significant experiences in your career – positive and negative – equipped you?
- In what ways have you served as a volunteer or church worker in the past?
It is common to try to hide scars. Divorce, death, job loss. These are all examples of intense life challenges. However, they are also examples of a time when you were (or could have been) dependent on God and His grace carried you through.
- Rather than blocking out or covering up, consider how your life experiences – positive and negative – can be used by God to minister to others. Allow God to redeem you and your circumstances. Joseph said it best in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
“God uses our broken pieces to make masterpieces.” – Ed Newton
“On the reverse side of every great woven tapestry is a knotted-up mess!” – J.D. Greear