Spiritual Gifts: In the Mission Field

Spiritual Gifts: In the Mission Field

At the beginning of summer, I went on a mission trip to the country of Panama. On this trip the Lord used my teammates to teach me many lessons. Some were easy and some very hard. One lesson I learned was this: I am so odd and crazy. Okay, well that is not the exact lesson but it has to do with it and it happens to be true.

There is one lesson that impacted me the most and is also a lesson that is important for us all in the body of Christ. In Panama I saw 1 Corinthians 12:15–19 truly played out in a practical way. This passage says:

“Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

I was always taught how unique and gifted in different ways we all are. But not until my time in Panama did the Lord draw me into a deeper understanding of what He truly means and wants for me personally. Growing up it was hard for me to step back and let others do things in place of me, especially in the church setting. I think we get stuck in this mindset that if we cannot do it all, then we are not effective in our purpose and mission in the Kingdom of God. Man, are we wrong! Those are lies that the devil puts into our head to discourage us from allowing God to fully use us.

Let me take you back to what I said in the beginning about my being “odd and crazy.” While in Panama, my crazy character was exactly what the Lord used for His Kingdom work. I watched my friends and teammates do things I could never do. It would have been easier to selfishly wish that I could have done them. Except in those times when jealously or self–doubt could have crept in, the Lord brought me to a humble position of honoring my friends in their strengths. God never asks us to do it all, and if we do, we would hinder others from using their gifts. If we tried to do everything, we would fail at a lot of things. (I know you don’t want me controlling the sound system at church.) Don’t we want the best for God’s Kingdom? Of course! So, let’s work together to get that.

If I took back my old mindset of thinking I had to do it all, I would not be nearly as effective as the body of Christ is when we all recognize our own spiritual gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses and when we allow God to show us where we are most needed. It is not an easy thing to acknowledge that someone may be better at something than we are. But man, it is so rewarding when we encourage one another and celebrate one another by allowing everyone to play their part.

I can tell you that I have never felt so confident in my own personal witness and ministry as I did after truly allowing the Lord to humble me. When I worked really hard at what I am good at and cheered my friends on as they did the same, the Lord honored our efforts.

  • Take the humble position of understanding we can’t do it all, and we do not need to.
  •  We are so different from one another, and it is important to accept and celebrate that.
  • Celebrate and honor the gifts and talents of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Allow God to use you for His Kingdom in what you are gifted to do, and do it whole–heartedly.
  • And let’s live out 1 Corinthians 12
Concerning Spiritual Gifts

12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b]11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 

 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (NIV) 

Abigail Merritt in Panama