Have you ever wished that you had different talents or abilities when it comes to serving in the church? We have probably all felt that way every once in a while. It is hard not to view some ministries as more important, more fulfilling, or more spiritual than others. For instance, you may serve by washing dishes after a church luncheon, but all the while, you wish you could be leading the ladies’ Bible study instead. Although you are gifted in the areas of cooking and cleaning, sometimes it just feels so mundane. God, why couldn’t You have made me good at singing? You pray as you scrub pots and pans. Or why didn’t You give me the talent of planning and organizing big church events? Those spiritual gifts seem much more useful and exciting! Even if we are skilled in a specific ministry, we can get tired of serving in that way day in and day out. We may even become discontent with the skills God has given us. Thankfully, 1 Corinthians 12-13 provides us with some very encouraging lessons about spiritual gifts!
A Gift From The Holy Spirit
The first thing to remember when you are tempted to despise your ministry calling is that your specific abilities are gifts from the Holy Spirit Himself! What is more, His gifts are never random. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them… Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good…” All gifts and ministries “are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines” (1 Corinthians 12:4, 7, 11). God knows you through and through: your personality, desires, struggles, and potential. He knows how you will be most effective and potent in His church. The same one who gave pastors and teachers their gifts also gave you your gift—and He doesn’t play favorites. Rather, He is working for the good of His people. When we look at it this way, our ministry calling becomes much more fulfilling! The God of the universe has chosen and commissioned you with a specific and important mission. What a gift!
Every Part Needed
The second important truth to help you find contentment in your ministry is the fact that you are indispensable to God’s people. Paul uses the metaphor of a body to describe the church—and a healthy body needs all of its parts. No one part is more important than another, but all parts work together to help the body function correctly. “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?” (1 Corinthians 12:16-17). You may be longing for someone else’s gift, but without you, the body of Christ would be greatly weakened. Imagine a war veteran coming home without an arm, or with a patch over his eye, or with a maimed leg. We think of this as tragic—yet, that is what the church would be without its “insignificant” ministers! “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Corinthians 12:21-22). God gave you your spiritual gifts for a reason; you are needed!
The Greatest Of These Is Love
Paul acknowledges that some spiritual gifts are more prominent than others, and he even encourages his readers to desire this kind of gift. However, there is something far more important to Paul (and to Jesus) than a public ministry. Paul calls it a “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). What could this more excellent way be? Read the following passage carefully.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
It does not matter what kind of ministry you are in. If your ministry cannot be described like this, you need a heart check. Paul even says that ministry without love is worth nothing (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3). However, if your attitude does mirror these verses, the church is being unified and God is being glorified through you. Well done, good and faithful servant of God! When we labor in the love of the Holy Spirit rather than selfishly seeking a prominent position, we are living according to God’s priorities. This is what counts in ministry.
So what do you do if you don’t like your spiritual gift? You take a deep breath and take a moment to remember the good news that 1 Corinthians 12-13 brings. Speak the truth of the Bible to yourself: “(1) God gave me this talent as a gift, and He always gives good gifts. (2) My gift has a purpose; it is necessary in the church. (3) No one type of ministry is more or less important in the eyes of God. Rather, serving in love is what counts.” Our Savior Jesus Christ created His church to be one body with many parts. Yes, we all have different gifts and roles, but our love for Christ unifies us. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:16). This is the way God has created us to function, and it is good. Take a moment to thank Him for the gift He has given you!