Whenever you begin to set goals, it’s imperative to keep your spiritual gifts in mind. It’s like baking an apple pie without the apples. The crust may turn out fine, but the apple piefinished product would be empty.

The moment you ask Christ to forgive your sins and save you,* the Holy Spirit seals your soul “unto the day of redemption” (When you arrive in heaven – Ephesians 4:30). He also imparts a spiritual gift or gifts upon you (1 Corinthians 12:8-11). These are God-given, and He determines which ones and how many you receive (Ephesians 4:7).**

As I stated in Consider This First When Goal Setting, it’s important to include your natural talents when setting goals. But I also said talents were different than the gifts of Holy Ghost (See The Differences between a Talent and a Spiritual Gift). A spiritual gift will always edify. This is not always the case with a talent (2 Corinthians 10:12).

A sad commentary of today’s biblical teaching is that many Christians don’t know their spiritual gifts. One of my college professors asked the class, “How many of you know your gift of the Holy Spirit?” Only a few people raised their hands (I was not one of them!).*** Most of the students had been raised in Christian homes and attended church all their lives, but had no clue what gifts their heavenly Father had given them.

We can also confuse our spiritual gifts with the regular activities we perform as Christians (i.e. teaching a class, giving to Faith Promise missions, counseling a friend, etc.).

You might be in the same spiritual boat I was. You don’t know your spiritual gifts. If you don’t, how can you exalt the Lord, edify believers, profit the ministry (1 Peter 4:11; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 12:7) and set goals which could do all three?

I will not give a detailed account of the spiritual gifts. If you’d like more information, I would be happy to send it to you. Just drop me an email. For our purpose, I will give you a brief synopsis of the spiritual gifts (several of these passed away after the Apostolic Age).

The main Scripture references for the Gifts can be found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, 28-30; Ephesians 4:8-13; Romans 12:6-8; and 1 Peter 4:10,11. Many in my circles believe only the motivational gifts and three of the ministry gifts are given today.

The Gifts are divided into three categories: ****

  • Motivational – Prophecy (discernment), ministry (helps and serving), teaching, exhortation, giving, ruling (organization/administration), mercy
  • Ministry (for the maturing of believers) – Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers
  • Manifestation (transitory signs) – Word of wisdom, word of knowledge, healing, miracles, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues

As you read the characteristics, start thinking about what gifts God gave you.

  • Prophecy or the gift of discernment – Sees and seeks to correct error in an open and honest way. Sees everything in black and white. Rejects those who offend.
  • Ministry – Helps and serves. Sees things that need to be done and does them. Has difficulty saying, “No.”
  • Teaching – Gathers details and dates to validate truth. Systematically organizes details. Helps others comprehend truth.
  • Exhortation – Gives motivation for spiritual growth. Encourages a course of action. Prefers to minister one-on-one.
  • Giving – Gives of substance for the sake of the ministry. Knows where resources need to be used. Desires others to give.
  • Ruling – Organizes to bring things together. Administers the operation of ministry. Visualizes results.
  • Mercy – Mentally and emotional meets the needs of others. Senses when people hurt. Empathizes and comforts those in distress.
  • Evangelists – Itinerate preachers
  • Pastors – (See 1 Timothy 3:1-7) for qualifications

How can you discover your spiritual gifts? Here are some guidelines:

  • Prayerfully confess all know sin (1 John 1:9) and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them (Matthew 21:22).
  • Study the traits of the spiritual gifts and eliminate those that are obviously not yours (My husband has the gift of discernment. I do NOT!).
  • Identify the motives behind the specific instances of your ministries (Do you do them because you feel you have to or because you want to?).
  • If you could choose to serve the Lord in any way, what would you do? Why?
  • Ask a spiritual friend, relative, and/or your pastor do help you discern them (Proverbs 15:22).
  • Wait on the Lord to show you as you continue to serve Him and study the traits of the Gifts.

When you set goals with your spiritual gifts in mind, you can rest assured God will bless your efforts. After all, He gave you the gifts to use. Use them to honor and glorify Him!

unopened gifts


* If you’re not sure that you’re saved, click on How to Know You Have Eternal Life.

** Some theologians believe a person is given one gift when she accepts Christ. Others believe God can give as many as He chooses. I am of the latter persuasion. On this page, I refer to “gifts” rather than “a gift”.

*** In case you are interested, my spiritual gifts are mercy and teaching.

**** Some information graciously shared by Dr. Ernest Childs, former professor and now Campus Chaplain at Ambassador Baptist College.

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