Think Outside the Gift Box

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Teaching is not my spiritual gift. That explanation works with my Sunday School teacher—but not with my boss.

My spiritual gifts work great at church, not so great in a biology lab. It makes me wonder what God was thinking in the gifts He gave me. I mean, wouldn't it make sense to give me skills at a profession where I could actually use my gifts?

First off, let me assure you this is not a discussion of finding out what your spiritual gifts are. There are lots of ways you can figure it out, from surveys you can take, to input from fellow Christians, to sudden realizations as you serve in a variety of ways at church and in your community. I figured mine out just from having God nudge my heart and memory as I read passages in the Bible.

Also, spiritual gifts need to be distinguished from our abilities—I enjoy leading worship, and I'm a good worship leader, but singing and playing are not spiritual gifts. They are abilities. However, my willingness to serve is a spiritual gift that comes from God.

Anyway, back to work. And my lack of areas to use my spiritual gifts.

It would be one thing if my gift were serving. I could serve my coworkers, easy-peasy.

"Need help with that assay?"

Or if my gift were encouragement, I could be a star cheerleader.

"Don't be discouraged; you'll figure out the assay next time."

Or even if my gift were mercy, I could be a soothing balm amongst my peers.

"This is only the first time you've made a mistake like this, and I'm sure you won't do it again."

Nope. One of my spiritual gifts is exhortation. What am I going to do, stand on a box in the middle of the lab and exhort my coworkers to turn away from their wicked ways and come to Christ?

That would get me fired REAL FAST.

But as I get older, aside from the wrinkles and extra celluloid, I'm also starting to see that being a Christian often requires thinking outside of the box.

No, I can't exhort my coworker to stop lying about his bad plating technique. But I can carefully advise him to slow down so he won't make mistakes.

I can't exhort my boss to stop taking the Lord's name in vain, but I can gently ask him if he doesn't mind toning his language down in front of me.

I can't exhort my coworker to pray for God's guidance when her husband gets laid off, but I can encourage her to support him emotionally during this time.

If your gift is teaching, use it to teach the woman who works down the hall how to use the new copier. If your gift is hospitality, offer your home for the company Christmas party. If your gift is helping, then stop watching your coworker struggling with the copy machine and at least give moral support, even if you can't work it yourself.

But don't be afraid to use your spiritual gifts at work because that's our missionary field too. In 1 Peter, God commands us to use our gifts to serve others . . . and not just our church members.

We have to trust that God knows what he's doing if he nudges us to use our gifts in other contexts besides the typical places we think of. But be a faithful steward of the gift he gave you.

Think out of the "gift" box.