I essentially looked at spiritual gifts like they were superheroes' powers. I thought people in the Bible with the extreme spiritual gifts, like people who could heal, were super cool and I looked up to them. I remember wanting to be like them someday.
As I've gotten older, not much as changed. My understanding of spiritual gifts has deepened and matured, yes. But I still look up to those Bible characters like they were Spiderman or Batman. I'm still wide-eyed over the people in the Bible who could heal people and cast demons out. And I wish I could make oil multiply out of nothing (2 Kings 4), make axes float in water (2 Kings 6), or see visions from God (Acts 10).
But like I said, my understanding of spiritual gifts has matured a lot since I was a kid. God has been teaching me this summer about the importance of discovering and utilizing my spiritual gifts. He's been teaching me about spiritual gifts because I got a little prideful at the start of the summer and didn't think that I needed to keep studying my Bible, praying, blogging, or teaching. I was on such a spiritual high that I got high off my own pride. But pride definitely comes before the fall. And I fell hard. I've felt so distant and far from God this summer.
As I was talking with my girlfriend about it earlier this month, she suggested that you could compare your relationship with God to making money. She said that if you work really hard and end up filthy rich, you can be tempted to stop working, to kick back and relax, and enjoy your money. But if you do that for too long, you'll eventually run out of money because you haven't been working. And that's what happened with me and God. I got so close to Him that I took that for granted. I began to slack off. I stopped pursuing Him because I didn't think I needed to anymore. I opened my Bible less and less, and listened to worship music less and less. I thought about Him less and less, and gave less and less time and money to my church. And the result? I became spiritually bankrupt. I was so dry and felt separated from God.
This summer, I learned the hard way that when I ignore my spiritual gifts, I am basically ignoring God. He has gifted me with all of my gifts and talents, and He has given me time and money and resources. But I neglected them.
Since God woke me up, I've had a renewed hunger for learning about my gifts. I've been reading and rereading 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Romans 12:4-8; these are the main passages on spiritual gifts in the Bible. I've also retaken a couple spiritual gift tests that I took in high school. With a new appreciation for their importance, I've been looking at what my gifts are now and thinking and praying about what kind of career God wants me to pursue. You see, I've learned that your spiritual gifts can be a huge aid in figuring out what career to pursue. I'm a Freshman in college now, and I'd love to figure out what I want to do with my life.
Throughout high school, I felt like God has been calling me to become some sort of a pastor. I felt that calling over three years ago, and it's only gotten stronger since. I've kept it on the downline, however, because it's something I wanted to be sure of before I came out and said it. I've had this fear that people will think I'm shallow, arrogant, or cliche if I said I wanted to be a pastor. I struggled with this fear for years, and I could never get over it. But this summer, God grew me out of it and I realized that who cares what other people think? If God calls me to do something, why should I care about how people will think about me? That should be the last thing on my mind! My focus should have been and is now on the fact that I believe God wants me to be some kind of a pastor.
My gifts, according to two spiritual gift tests, are teaching, administration, serving, giving, exhortation, wisdom, and leadership. All of these are great gifts to have in a pastor, and I know that God has given me these gifts for a reason. I believe that reason is to be some kind of pastor. I'm not quite sure what kind yet, whether a pastor of a church, a traveling preacher, a speaker/author, or what. I get swallowed up and overwhelmed by the possibilities, so I'm leaving that up to God. He will reveal His will in His timing. Until then, I'm going to take classes in college and prepare to be some sort of a pastor someday.
I'm still the same wide-eyed kid who thinks spiritual gifts are as cool as superhero powers. I still sometimes wish and hope that I can heal people by touching them just like I wish and hope I'll get bitten by a radioactive spider and get super cool spider powers. And I learned this summer that ignoring your spiritual gifts is tantamount to ignoring God. I can't stand being far from God, and so I plan on exercising and utilizing my spiritual gifts as much as possible. And I pray that I'll never forget how important they are.
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." ~Jesus, Luke 12