by Rob Tims
Forty-two years and counting, I’ve had a number of things that I’ve been passionate about. Camping (courtesy of the Boy Scouts of America). Tennis and golf (courtesy of my parents). The opposite sex (courtesy of human development). Parenting (courtesy of the aforementioned passion for the opposite sex). But if you follow the trail of my time, money and effort, you’ll discover that Jesus and His church have long been a passion. From teaching 1 year-olds to pastoring a church, my passion and experiences have led me to serve His church.
Serving the church is not a unique calling to me. It is the calling of every Christian. The Holy Spirit gives every believer at least one gift for this purpose, but it can be confounding to determine exactly what gifts you have and how to use them. Those gifts that Paul lists in his epistles are not exhaustive, so how can we know what our gifts are for serving the church?
I’ve found these four questions to be helpful in identifying gifts, and in asking them, I’ve found that the answer about my spiritual gifts intersects with my passions and experiences.
- What do I have?
- What can I do?
- What are the needs?
- What opportunities are there?
Without being overly pragmatic or simplistic, answering these four questions liberates us from the paralysis of wondering how we should serve the church. The gifts He has given us for this purpose almost always intersect with our resources and abilities, as well as the need that exist and the opportunities available to us to meet those needs.
So: What do you have? What can you do? What are the needs? What opportunities are there? In answering these questions, you’ll find the way in which God has equipped you to serve His church with passion, excellence, and joy.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.