The Problem with Spiritual Gifts Tests

Several years ago, I took a spiritual gifts test at my local church.

Maybe you’ve seen these tests. You answer a bunch of multiple choice questions – and based on your answers, you are ranked for various spiritual gifts.

Like everyone else, I ranked high for some gifts and low for others. I can clearly remember the gift of teaching being almost at the very bottom of my list. Just simply one of those gifts I didn’t possess, I guessed.

Two years later, my wife and I moved a few hours away and started attending a different church. In our small group, we took another spiritual gifts test.

It was a totally different test with totally different questions, but my results were strikingly similar: teaching was near the bottom of the barrel.

Ok. I get it. I’m not supposed to teach.

Stepping Up

Fortunately, my memory isn’t that good.

A few months later, my life group teacher went out of town. In our tiny class, my wife and I were by far the most regular attenders and had become de facto leaders. So I felt prompted to step up and substitute.

It wasn’t a big deal: it was a one-week thing. And I knew I’d only have about 3 or 4 people in the class.

So I taught. It wasn’t great, but I didn’t get kicked out of the class either.

When my teacher went out of town again, I taught. He was away for two weeks; I taught. I was soon teaching every few weeks and was officially an assistant teacher.

Around that time, a program I was in gave us another spiritual gifts test.

Guess what?

This time, teaching was my number one gift.

What You Already Know

The problem with spiritual gifts tests is that they only help you discover what you already know in some way. They help you process the passions and strengths that have already begun to show themselves.

But there could be dormant gifts inside of you that you are clueless about.

Before I tried it, I can remember feeling an indifference towards the idea of teaching.

But when I started to teach, a passion was ignited in me. The privilege of showing scriptures to other people and participating in their life change – that was suddenly a burning desire and joy.

Not a Single Test

Finding your gifts and passions is a work in progress.

It’s not a nice, neat, scientific process like getting a blood test.

It’s not a once-and-for-all event. You will change as time goes on, and your concept of who you are will change.

Why Try to Find Our Gifts?

Another things about spiritual gifts: They’re not about you.

We put a selfish emphasis on our gifts and passions. We want to find them and use them in order to be fulfilled and happy.

Instead, our focus should be on serving others and meeting their needs. Understanding our strengths helps us determine how to do this most effectively, but our goal is the service of others and the glory of God – not our personal sense of accomplishment.

So try new things. Serve where you see a need. Start small, but still start.

You never know what new passions you’ll discover.

Photo Credit: Alberto G. (Creative Commons)

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