Gifts And Talents – 6 Considerations

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1. Wants And Needs

The first thing we should understand is that God will provide what we need, not necessarily what we want.  Until we, as Paul exhorted in Philippians 2:5, let the mind of Christ be in us, we will continue to spiritually flounder, only hoping for a revival, but not being properly prepared for it.  By totally submitting to the Lord, however, we can expect Him to give us the talents and the gifts necessary to accomplish the task that He has given. 

This not only applies itself to our personal ministries, but it also means that as we grow the church, new members will bring their own gifts and talents into the body.  This will enable us to do more than ever before as more and more of these God-given resources are made available.  Often, pastors and other church leadership struggle with this point.  It is quite common, for example, to think “If I only had this or that in my church, then I would be able to see great revival.”  What they should be doing, however, is not simply dreaming of what could be; they should use what they have been already given by the Lord and seek God’s will concerning what He knows concerning the next vital step in the church’s growth.  When we find that, we can expect Him to supply whatever is necessary to see that ministry come to fruition.  He’s the Master of the harvest and He knows what to do and when and how to see it done!  Again, that is what biblical grace is all about.  He will supply what is needed for His specific purpose.  Our obligation is simply to find what He expects us to do in partnership with Him.  Jesus said it this way in Matthew 6:31-33,  “Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink?  Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 

2. We Really Can Do All Things

The second point with regards to the best use of gifts and talents is that church leadership must be responsible for creating the environment in which every member knows that he or she can excel in personal ministry, and that this ministry is virtually without limits.  We have already established that the saints will be given gifts and talents necessary to their ministries.  This is by the grace of God.  But without recognizing these gifts and encouraging the members to put them into action, many saints will never enter into true ministry.  The “I can” mentality must penetrate each local assembly.  And pastors will always be the key players in making this way of thinking to become a reality.  It will not take place automatically; it must be carefully cultivated. 

Saints come to the Lord initially because they have realized that without Him they can do nothing.  It takes a very humble spirit to kneel before the King and confess that we need Him more than anything else.  True repentance is a deep and lasting experience.  It is not difficult, therefore, to understand that as we start off on our Christian journey we carry with us many of the old ways of thinking.  Sanctification and the transformation necessary for a Christian life take time.  Unfortunately, long before the Lord reveals to the church member his individual value and potential for ministry, the saint can become very discouraged by the old way of looking at himself.  The mentality is more “I cannot” than “I can.”  The leaders of the Church must be ready to give constant encouragement to these members in order to see them grow into places of spiritual ministry. 

Too often, however, this is not the case, and therefore the saints aspire to very little in terms of responsibility, and they fail to see themselves as an integral and necessary part of a growing organism.  Ephesians 3:20 needs to be preached until it becomes a reality in the lives and ministries of the church membership. 

3. Give Them A Chance

The third consideration in the best use of gifts and talents is that simply giving someone an opportunity to minister can make all the difference concerning his or her future ministry.    This may sound confusing at first, but the point is that senior leaders must give members the chance to prove themselves long before knowing the exact ministry in which they might excel.  In other words, the “best” use will come after they start being used in the ministry of the Church.  And certainly we cannot know the end of their work if there is never a beginning!  As they begin to experience more and more of the hand of God on them in ministering to others, the Spirit will lead them into their respective places, chosen and ordained of God.  But at the beginning, just being used in any ministry is an important step in the right direction. 

This also means that senior leadership should not be afraid to bring someone from the nucleus into a place of greater responsibility and authority.  The key point is, however, that they must come from the recognized nucleus.  While it may be true that not every member of the nucleus will move into spiritual leadership, we must be careful to ensure that each new leader chosen has already proven himself to be truly part of the nucleus.  When corrective action, or even replacing someone in ministry, becomes needful, it is an advantage in knowing that these saints have already shown their dedication and loyalty to the overall cause of revival in the church.  These are the brothers and sisters that take no offense in being moved from one responsibility to another, knowing that the church leadership is dedicated to using their gifts and talents in the most efficacious way.

4. Watch And Pray

The fourth point in regards to the best use of gifts and talents is that we must make a continual analysis of the church ministry and make corrections when necessary.  A prayerful supervision will be necessary as people in the church are moved into places of ministry.  These are places of definite responsibility, and therefore they will be accountable for their work.  This means being held accountable to the vision as well.  Whatever part saints play in the leadership and ministry of a local or national church, it must be in harmony with the overall plan or strategy that has been set for that church.  As we saw in the chapter on Vision, it is the senior leadership that is responsible for maintaining this vision.  We cannot afford to shirk this responsibility. 

Analyzing the success, stagnation, or failure of church ministries is one of the most important responsibilities borne by senior leadership.  Not only does it help to further the present progress of those ministries, it also sets an example for future ministry leaders.  These potential ministry leaders see that they will be held accountable for that with which they will be entrusted.  A haphazard approach to accountability and supervised correction usually leads to a mediocre thrust of ministry. 

Looking at the Book of Acts revival, it seems clear that the apostles and other church leaders believed in a “chain of command.”  Certainly, the emphasis was placed on spiritual authority, and the dedication required to be used in that authority was preached and taught regularly.  In other words, they strongly believed in what Jesus said in Matthew 20:27, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your minister.”  At the same time, however, they believed strongly in God-given apostolic authority.  Looking at 2 Peter 3:1-2 we read,  “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”  While having the attitude of a servant in true humility, the apostles and church leaders were nevertheless not weak in exercising the authority that they had received when they deemed it necessary.  And it was definitely necessary.  Many New Testament passages are dedicated to warnings against false teachers and men with contrary spirits that were trying to wrest the authority from the apostolic teachers.  They were, it seems, in every region, doing their best to overthrow the true faith of the believers and pervert the gospel for their own use.  Because of this, the apostles used the authority given to them by the Lord to carry out their primary responsibility of keeping the newly born church in the proper vision. 

It is really no different today.  We must give the saints as much room as possible for them to expand their personal experience and ministry, yet at the same time not shrink from the task of overseeing the overall progress of comprehensive ministry in the church—whether it be on the local or national level.  Start, supervise, correct, modify, and expand should be watchwords for senior leaders when promoting people into new positions of spiritual ministry and authority.  The “best use” will come eventually as members and leaders realize together how the available human resources (empowered by God) should be placed into positions of greater and greater usefulness in the body.

5. The Next Move In Ministry

The fifth consideration concerning the best use of gifts and talents lies in being aware of the needs that are present and the potential for ministry.  Church leaders should be the ones that are carrying out this part of the plan.  We already have seen that true ministry is always based upon need.  Therefore, knowing the needs is what starts the process of targeting appropriate ministries to fulfill those needs. 

The awareness of the need can come from nearly any source.  Saints, pastors, and national leaders should be encouraged to point out where the absence of ministry is responsible for unfulfilled and present needs.  These ministry gaps will exist in the church and also in the surrounding community.  When everyone is encouraged to add input and make suggestions for future growth based on the need/ministry paradigm, then it becomes easier for church members to see where they might fit in to that new ministry. 

Knowing the needs around and in the church leads to the second part of this partnership: knowing the potential for ministry.  This means knowing which members are gifted in which areas and being able to balance the capacity for true ministry with the need.  And this means that church leadership must be intimately acquainted with the membership.  Like the shepherds that carefully look after their flocks, for example, pastors must be aware of the spiritual condition of the church membership to which they are responsible.  At every level of church leadership, the senior leaders will be the ones charged with placing the right personnel into the right ministry.  Therefore, a careful and regular assessment of these two areas, need and potential ministry, will help guarantee that the best use of gifts and talents is being carried out.

6. Focus On Training

The last consideration in this principle is that ministry-specific training must be available to all church members who step forward in the hope of being more useful in the harvest ministry.  This is actually a part of the equipping process that is so very important for the body of Christ.  This kind of training will actually serve as something more than just teaching the saints.

  • It provides further illumination of the vision for the church by describing through the training what kind of ministries have been targeted to meet the needs. 
  • It provides a clear definition of the positions of responsibility that are needed in the church, and thereby opens the door of opportunity to whosoever feels called to further ministry. 
  • It provides a medium in which current leaders can share their experiences with future leaders, giving needed support and placing emphasis on the fact that anyone can step up to greater burden and effectiveness in the kingdom of God. 
  • It provides unity by delineating the direction that the church leadership feels to go, making it clear that the various ministries of the church (those for which the training is targeted) are all working together in an integral plan for revival. 
  • It challenges the saints by targeting more and more potential ministries based on need.  In other words, it shows the church membership that, in reality, there will never be enough ministries, and that there will always be room for more volunteer laborers in the harvest field.  Someone aspiring to spiritual effectiveness can certainly find a place in the revival!
  • It prevents frustration in gifted saints who, without training and future places of useful ministry, would only feel bound by lack of further growth and development as they continue to mature. 
  • Finally, it provides an avenue through which senior leaders can help new leaders to practice and hone their skills and find ministries that are truly in the “best use” category. 

About Jim Poitras

Enlisiting, educating, equipping, empowering, and encouraging members, ministers, and missionaries in apostolic global missions. Director of Education/AIM