How can I help my child discover and use their spiritual gifts?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

God has given all believers particular spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying the church, his body. There are three passages that list the spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Romans 12:6-8, and 1 Peter 4:10-11. There are a wide variety of gifts ranging from wisdom, faith, serving, teaching, encouragement, and even giving. Some combination of these gifts is given to all believers. What should be noted, is that one gift is not greater than another, as all gifts are in place to glorify God and serve His people.

Far too often today the primary focus and importance is placed on those with the "rock star" gifts such as teaching and leadership. But as Paul went on to say in 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, the church is made up of many members just as a body is. A body made up of all ears would not be a very effective body. Nor would a body that doesn't have arms or legs. Likewise, a church full of preachers and teachers would not be very effective. The body needs givers, servants, and administrators just as well.

Things to think about:

What are my student's talents?

Often our talents can be indicative of gifts. What does your student naturally gravitate towards? How is he or she wired already? Is he or she an encourager? A giver? A leader? Try to observe carefully your student's personality and pray with him or her about how God has wired them to serve His body.

Where can I get my student involved?

Whether you are confident or unsure of your student's gifts, it is a great idea to get him or her to serve in the church. If your student does know his or her gifts, find an area of service that will exercise those gifts (i.e. someone with the gift of serving could help with the children's ministry). If they have a heart for people, most cities have homeless shelters, food banks, and other local ministry opportunities that will give your student an opportunity to use their gifts outside of the walls of the church. And if your student is unsure of his or her gifts, have him, or her try out multiple areas of service. One area of service may drain them while another gives him or her life. This will help in discovering how God has wired your student.

How am I exercising my gifts?

In thinking about how your student can serve the body of Christ well, it is important to check if you are using your gifts well. This could open up a great conversation between you and your student in how God has wired you and given you your gifts and how you exercise them. Bring your student along with you as you serve in certain areas and see if they enjoy it as well. If you are not exercising your gifts well, you and your student can pray and go on a discovery process together.

What do I do now?

Try taking an online spiritual gifts assessment online, like the one found at http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com – while no test is perfect, this can be a great starting point for you to have a conversation with your student about their passions, desires, and talents. What your student gets excited about may be a clue as to how God has wired him or her. Observe your student and notice if he or she is more of a leader, giver, encourager, servant, etc. And most importantly, pray. Pray both on your own and with your student. Pray that he or she would abide and discover how his or her gifts.

It might be helpful for you to write down or print out the list of spiritual gifts from the passage above and pray about which ones you might already be able to see in your student. Often our spiritual gifts are wired into who we are as people. If your student has always been one to take charge and lead, then he or she might very well have the gift of leadership. Similarly, if your student is always helping pick up around the house or helping with siblings, he or she may have the gift of serving.

It is not a matter of if your student has a spiritual gift, but rather which one(s) does he or she have? Pray with your student about it and encourage him or her to serve in the church where he or she feels like God has equipped them. Discovering your student's gifts should be a joyous and prayerful process for everyone involved.

Want to go deeper?

There are many online spiritual gifts tests that you and your student could take. Here is a link to a free online assessment that has both an adult and a youth test. Take the tests together and then discuss how you think the results fit your student's personality.http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com

Source for Study / Footnote:http://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-gifts.html