How do I know if I've got spiritual gifts?

We’ve been doing a thing at our church called a SHAPE course. SHAPE is an acronym, standing for “Spritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences”. It’s intended to help you look at those five things, think a bit about what things you have that fit into those categories, and work out what things you might be able to do well in serving God.

The Spiritual Gifts bit was first and, as you might expect, raised the most questions.

It’s clear from the Bible, more so in the New Testament, but also in the Old, that God gives particular “gifts” or abilities to people and he does this “by his spirit”…that is, those abilities are specifically given by God in a “supernatural” kind of way.

From my point of view, gifts of the spirit fall into two categories:

1) things that are always obviously of God when they happen, such as:

  • healing
  • prophecy (speaking God’s thoughts to groups of people)
  • words of knowledge (when God tells you something – like prophecy but different)
  • miracles
  • tongues/languages and interpretation.

I will call these the “difficult gifts” – because it’s more difficult to believe that we have them, and requires more faith to use them…I think.

2) things that might be of God but you can never be sure, such as:

  • music
  • administration
  • hospitality
  • wisdom
  • teaching
  • leadership

I specifically draw a line here between the “difficult” gifts and the “non-difficult” gifts because this is the main thing I want to speak about.

In my experience the “difficult” spiritual gifts are less commonly found. I know lots of people who seem to be blessed by God with real ability in music, hospitality, and teaching. I know few prophets, healers and miracle workers.

Yet it doesn’t make sense to me that God would distribute the gifts unevenly. In fact, because he’s such an awesome God who should choose to reveal himself and his thoughts to his people, I would expect to see MORE healers and prophets than the easier things.

Which makes me wonder if maybe there are lots of people that are healers, prophets, miracle workers, etc that don’t know if they have those gifts? And if this is the case, how do we nurture these gifts in people? How should the church encourage people to “seek the greater gifts” as the bible says? How do we know if we have the difficult gifts if we don’t have opportunities to try and use them? How shall we go about discovering who our prophets and healers are?

This is really the main thing I’ve learned from the SHAPE course. That we should be praying and asking God for the difficult gifts – he tells us to do this. But how practically should we be trying out these things if we think that God has given them to us?