The goal of Discipleship Discipline Six is to develop your personal talents that can be used for ministry, to participate in ministry using your talents, and to develop new ways to minister to others using your talents.
Those things that you do well and enjoy doing are your personal talents. God has given each of us the ability to excel in some area of ministry. You can identify your talents by looking back on your life and noting those times you felt particularly useful. You may also ask those who are close to you to offer their opinion of where your talents are best used. Another approach would be to search for a Spiritual Gifts Survey online that will derive your talents based on a series of questions. From a practical point of view, survey questions don’t specifically point to how well you might respond to any specific task currently opened to your participation. Sometimes finding out where your talents lie is a matter of trial and error. Look for available opportunities to assist in ministry, select those you have an interest in, and give them a try. Over time you will have a clear indication of where your talents can be of the most use.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” Romans 12:4-6 (NIV)
No matter what your spiritual gift or personal talent is, the goal is the same – serve God by serving others. Sometimes we have to set our talent aside and simply do the work that’s in front of us. If you’re a talented musician, serving in the worship band would be ideal, but perhaps what’s needed is more workers in children’s ministry. Or maybe you have a gift for leadership and feel you could best be used building a team of small group leaders, but what’s needed is help painting the sanctuary. Often our greatest gift and strongest talent is the ability to be flexible and serve where service is needed.
“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 (NIV)
As you become more involved in ministry and serving God by serving others, you will not only identify your personal talents but you will also develop new talents you didn’t know you had. Experience is by far the best teacher. The more you do, the more you will know about yourself. The more you do, the more you will learn and grow to become useful in many areas you never dreamed of being part of your ministry. A true disciple of Christ will make use of every opportunity to serve God by serving others. There are no boundaries for service to God. If the need is in front of you, do what you can to fill that need.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
Every day brings opportunity to minister to others. There is no need to wait for a specific ministry job to become available; you can use your talents to minister to others on a daily basis. Start by offering encouragement to those in ministry who have helped you along the way. Church staff members are often overwhelmed by complaints and suggestions on how to better administer their service. A simple note of thanks and encouragement for the hard work they are doing will be a blessing. Someone living alone in your neighborhood may be greatly blessed by a visit. A young couple you know may be blessed by providing child care so they can have a night out. A student may be blessed by you helping with their homework. There are endless possibilities for service to others. You will need to make an effort to identify where you can be of service and let it be known among your friends and family that you are available.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)
There are many faith-based organizations that cannot survive without volunteers. Likewise, there are many other service organizations that may not have a specific spiritual connection that are still doing God’s work serving others. Serving at a food pantry or homeless shelter regardless of its religious affiliation is still ministry. We serve God by serving others not by serving some religious organization. A simple online search for opportunities to volunteer in your area will likely turn up several possibilities. Pray for guidance and select a service project that is calling to your heart. When you find yourself working outside of a setting designated as Christian, look for opportunities to share biblical truth without stepping outside of the boundaries of the organization you are working for.
“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)
Once you have spent several years exploring your ministry talents, you may be called to develop your own personal ministry. The Internet provides a worldwide opportunity to minister to others and there are many creative ways you can use all manner of social media to express your talents. Look around the community in which you live and identify where the needs are and where the ministry gaps exist. Does your community need a food pantry to help those in need? Is there a homeless population that is being ignored? Do those seeking to know more about Jesus have an easily identified source for answers and guidance? Are the elderly being properly cared for in your community? Are there a number of people in your community who would like to go to church on Sunday but simply don’t have a way to get there? As a disciple of Christ, your mission is to look for those in need and do everything possible to resolve that need. The power of the Holy Spirit that resides in you is the same power that Jesus used in His ministry. Take hold of that power and walk in the footsteps of Jesus until He returns.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
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Serve God by serving others using your talents.