Have you ever taken a spiritual gift assessment test? Were you told that God has gifted you in prophecy because you have “strong beliefs and the need to communicate them to others?” Or were you told that you have the gift of administration because you like to “perform menial tasks for the church to the glory of God?”
If you have taken those tests and been told what your spiritual gift is as a result of a multiple choice test, I have some bad news for you.
It’s probably wrong.
And that really matters, so read on.
The problem is that the tests originate from a flawed assumption. Though it may sound good to infer what your spiritual gift is based on a questionnaire, it simply isn’t biblical because that’s not really how spiritual gifts work. The concept of a spiritual gifts test comes from modern psychology, not from scripture.
Ever since mother-daughter team Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers based their iconic “Myers-Briggs” personality test on the work of Carl Jung, the idea of taking a test to better understand yourself is deeply imbedded into the American Psyche. I believe the Myers-Briggs test is actually a useful tool to understand yourself better. There are other psychological profile tests that also work well. They work because they analyze the psyche. They look at who you are, who you have been and who you will be for the foreseeable future.
But your spiritual gifts are different than your psyche. Your spiritual gifts are not a part of you, they are a part of God. Let’s look at scripture to better understand.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
1 Corinthians 14:1
Let’s start here. This is actually very straightforward. Paul tells us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially that we would prophesy. Why? Because when we prophesy, we are receiving direct communication from God through the Holy Spirit for direction, correction and encouragement. If the prophetic word is clear enough, we don’t have to second-guess what God is saying. But at no point is God’s voice a part of our own psyche. It is not something we can evaluate based on a personality test.
By telling us to “eagerly desire” spiritual gifts, Paul is encouraging us to pray for them. To ask God to give them to us. Paul did not say, “uncover the spiritual gifts inside you,” or “find the gifting God has given you.” No, he said desire them. Seek them. Ask God for them.
The flawed foundation people have is that they think spiritual gifts are given to us and are inside us awaiting our discovery from the moment of salvation. This isn’t found anywhere in scripture in relation to gifts. Spiritual gifts aren’t in us from salvation, but they are available to us from the moment of salvation. That is why Paul tells us to seek them. It is also why he is interested in prophecy above all.
So how do people get confused about this? I believe it is because it sounds so logical because we are used to tests like Myers-Briggs. People are also confused about another statement Paul made just two chapters earlier in 1 Corinthians.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31
What we have here is Paul explaining that spiritual gifts are given by God’s sovereignty. We are not all prophets or apostles or teachers because God has appointed some to be those. Everyone will not be an apostle. Not everyone will be a prophet.
The difference here is that these are positional gifts. A prophet is someone who has been ordained by God to hear from Him a lot, with great authority. Does that mean that others cannot prophesy? Paul makes it clear that we can, and should, all prophesy in chapter 14. Because some ordained positions contain spiritual gifting does not mean that all spiritual gifts are ordained and set in stone. Paul makes that clear in this very passage by telling his readers to desire the “greater gifts.” He tells us prophecy is the greatest gift in chapter 14.
Stop Finding Your Gift
What does this mean to you? It means your time would be much better spent praying and asking God for spiritual gifts instead of trying to find them within yourself. Do like Paul said—eagerly desire all the spiritual gifts. Start by asking early and often for prophecy, because all the others flow easily from a position of faith in hearing God’s voice.
The gifts are not inside of you awaiting your discovery. They are available to you if you ask for them. They are gifts given freely by God, but He awaits your request for what He has already prepared for you.
If you are ordained by God to be an apostle, prophet, teacher, etc., it won’t be because you took an assessment test. It will be clear because God would have made that known to you through prophetic words and encounters. Please, please do not claim to be a prophet because an online test told you that, but please, please do ask God to speak to you prophetically every day.
It’s time to stop looking for your spiritual gifts and time to start asking for them.