How to Squander Your Spiritual Gifts

What special abilities has God given you? When God wove you together before you were born and made you new in Christ, He chose gifts for you—special resources, experiences, and skills for you to manage and practice. Do you think the? If yes, do you know what they are? Can you name some specific ways you plan to use it and grow in it?

If you believe in Jesus, He has given you some of His power and ability. Whoever you are and how “gifted” you feel compared to others, you have abilities from God that are destined to transform the lives of others.

Now there are different gifts, but the same spirit; and there are different services, but the same Lord; and there are different activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in each. To each the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

At all means “in you”. To each means “for you”.

Where skills atrophy

The reality is that while we all have a special potential for good, not all of us realize that potential. Some waste the supernatural and personal gifts of God. They sit, as it were, on shelves in the basement, decorations of a life concentrated elsewhere.

The apostle Paul commands the church in Rome: “If we have different gifts according to the grace given to us, let’s use them‘ (Romans 12:6). So what keeps us from using our gifts well? What keeps you from using the grace-filled abilities God has given you? When we squander our God-given resources and skills, we often don’t realize we are wasting them. This is part of Satan’s craft. If he cannot convince us to reject God altogether, he will pull us away from him in a hundred smaller ways. It will embed a subtle, barely perceptible temptation that will slowly corrupt our impulses and bury our potential.

“Most spiritual gifts die not from direct rejection but from distraction.”

Most spiritual gifts don’t die out of direct rejection, but through distraction. These temptations become spiritual dead ends, comfortable places to live that lead nowhere. Paul bypasses four of these dead ends in Romans 12.

road of selfishness

Perhaps the most common way we squander these gifts is by accepting that they are about us and not about meeting the needs of others. Paul’s call to use our abilities comes right after this remarkable statement about our identity:

As we have many members in one body, and the members do not all have the same function, so, though many, we are one body in Christ, and individually members among themselves. (Romans 12:4-5)

The skills that God gives us are not primarily designed to advance our careers or unlock favorite hobbies or make us feel accomplished or fulfilled; They serve to bless and support the body of Christ, the church. You are good at what you are good at because the church needs it theshape or shape in some way – because the community needs you.

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That’s not how the world thinks. What are gifts if I can’t use and spend them as I want? Like the 5-year-old hovering over his armies of Matchbox cars, we take stock of our skills, resources, and time and say, “Mine!” God sees gifts so differently. What are gifts, he asks, when they die on the vines of self? No, gifts are only truly experienced and enjoyed when we hold them lightly and gladly say to God, “Yours!”

Pride Boulevard

Aside from an egoism that blinds us to the needs of others, we could squander our gifts by thinking too much of ourselves. A few verses earlier Paul writes:

By the grace bestowed on me, I say to each of you not to think yourselves higher than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)

Sometimes gifts spoil because we focus too much on ourselves; at other times, because we think the needs we could fill are below us. We assume we are too gifted for quiet, ordinary, ungrateful love. Pride inflates our heads, lifts us out of reality, and makes real needs seem small, even trivial, next to our imagined priorities. However, God-given abilities choke on this exaltation. They breathe and thrive when rooted in a real, ordinary life with real, ordinary needs. Our gifts do not reach the height of their potential if we refuse to use them on our knees.

“Our gifts will not reach their full potential if we refuse to use them on our knees.”

Paul puts a weapon against this gift-choking pride in the verse quoted above: Think soberly about yourself, he says, “each according to the measure of your faith that God has assigned.” The abilities you have are assigned by God. Even the Believe You have is assigned by God. “What have you got that you did not get?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Remember that whatever you do well, you do well only through the creativity and generosity of God.

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way of worldliness

A third impasse is perhaps the most pervasive and subtle: worldliness. We waste or misuse our gifts because we value and prioritize what the world is doing rather than seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33). It’s far too easy to join the crowd casually walking away from the cross. “Do not conform yourselves to this world,” Paul warns, “but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, that through testing you may know what the will of God is, which is good and agreeable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

What is the wrong type of compliance? We spend the best of us in the office instead of at home and at church. We are more excited about our hobbies than about the sky. The greatest comfort and “rest” we find is scrolling through the remnants of others’ lives on social media. We keep up with our favorite shows and movies, but struggle to find time to sit down, meet and enjoy God.

When our hearts are in the wrong places, it’s no wonder our gifts—our time, our attention, our resources, our abilities—also consistently end up in the wrong places (or don’t end up at all). Those who use their gifts well reject what the world would teach them to do with their gifts. They carry and spend their gifts where God directs them through His word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.

passivity circle

The final impasse on this narrow path of faithfulness brings us back to Romans 12:6: “If we have different gifts according to the grace bestowed upon us, let’s use them.” Like a particularly fertile weed, passivity poisons the gardens of giftedness.

How many God-given abilities shrink because we’re too busy or insecure or lazy to even try? We had the impulse to serve in one way or another, but we kept procrastinating. We knew that person might need a call or a visit, but we assumed someone else would get in touch. We heard the church was looking for someone to cover this base, but we kept finding excuses to stay in the dugout. Paul is saying to the congregation—young and old, male and female, new believers and older saints, healthy and injured, outgoing and shy, musical and, well, not—“You have skills (yes, even you), so use You.” Find a way any Wise way to use whatever you are good at to take care of someone else.

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Being gifted in this way does not mean that you are more gifted than everyone else, or that God does not expect us all to teach, serve, and exhort (and give and lead in various ways); it just means that there is evidence that God has given you a greater measure of grace in certain areas to meet the needs of others. “Each having received a gift, use it in ministering to one another, as good stewards of the manifold graces of God” (1 Peter 4:10). Whatever experience or ability God has given you, start using it.

wait, what are my presents?

However, some may still not know what their gifts are. Perhaps you’ve never really identified yourself as “gifted” and can’t point to a specific skill or knowledge that you would consider a gift. How does one begin to discover their gifts?

In Romans 12:6-8 Paul gives us some examples: Some are gifted teachers, so find someone to teach them, even if it’s three or four six-year-olds in Sunday school. Some are gifted in service, so find someone to serve, even if it means helping a widow with chores a few pews away. Some are gifted at admonishing—to encourage, to challenge, to correct, to inspire—so find someone to admonish, even if it’s the guy who is faithfully teaching three or four six-year-olds.

Much more could be said here, but you could start with a simple question: What do you enjoy doing well that a ministry or family in your church could need? What do other people thank you for? It could be teaching or encouraging teachers. It could direct music or set up equipment. It could be serving meals or cleaning up meals. It might host large gatherings or make friends with lonely people. This can be greeting guests on Sunday mornings or faithfully praying for other members. Every church, no matter how small, has real and significant needs. Sometimes in smaller churches the needs are even greater because there are fewer leaders and resources. What is something you do well that meets the needs of others?

When your gifts have reached an impasse and begin to wither, it’s not too late to revive and use them. Shed the pride, selfishness, worldliness and passivity that devour what God has given you. Liberate your gifts from the impasses that oppress them. Identify something that by God’s grace you are good at and ask Him to help you identify a need you need to fill.

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