After my husband and I faced each other, took a deep breath, and said, "I do," we joined a warm and welcoming church in the Seattle area. There, we connected with a group of other newlyweds for social events and Bible studies. As we got to know our new friends, someone asked us about our spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts? Although both of us grew up attending church, neither of us was familiar with this term.
During the next few years, we not only learned what spiritual gifts were, but we also discovered ours. I came to understand that natural abilities and spiritual gifts can be different. All of us have natural abilities we can use for many good purposes. But spiritual gifts—like hospitality, mercy, giving, and teaching—are given to each of us by the Holy Spirit specifically so that we can minister to others in the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul describes it this way: "If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it" (1 Corinthians 12:17-18). And so it is with us: each member of the body of Christ has a purpose in edifying other believers. Further, as husbands and wives, we have the privilege of encouraging our spouses to reach, teach, and minister to the Christian community through their gifts.
Start at the beginning. If you're newly married and you've never determined your spiritual gifts, now is the time. By beginning this process together, you set the stage for a lifetime of encouraging one another to grow in faith through serving.
- Begin with prayer. Ask God to help make you aware of your gifts. Ask him to reveal areas where you could effectively use them. Read about the spiritual gifts in Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Ephesians 4:11-12; and 1 Peter 4:11.
- Be receptive. Listen carefully to feedback you receive in your everyday interactions. Are you incredibly moved to give to the needy? Do you feel compelled to help others understand God's Word? These types of urges can be clues to your gifts and how you can use them. In addition, you may have gifts that push you beyond your comfort zone. You might discover that you have the gift of hospitaility, for example, even though you're not sure how to pull off a meal for six student ministry leaders with kids afoot. Remember, when God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, Moses protested. "Lord, please! Send anyone else" (Exodus 4:13). But God used Moses and he can use you, too.