Many of us have been limited in the use of our giftings, raised up in old wineskins where only the few got to stand up the front and use the ministry gifts God had given them. BUT God has a new wineskin! It is one where individual members of His body flow in their giftings for the benefit of others, to build His Kingdom, to heal the sick, raise up disciples, encourage one another, change nations, communities and much more. That includes you.
We are beginning to understand the authority and power that God has given as His sons and daughters to be effective ministers in His Kingdom through the giftings and callings outlined in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4. As God is calling us into greater levels of maturity it is not enough to just function in the gifts; we must have the maturity of character and the fruit in our lives to go with it or we become as resounding gongs and can come under the influence of a spirit of deception.
The following are some of the characteristics and evidence of our maturity as we use our giftings:
- We understand that it is not about us, but for the benefit of others. It is not about the label. It is about humility, teachability, and understanding that our giftings are an expression of God’s love and care for us and others.
- I see our giftings as a ‘toolbox’ (that’s my own perspective and not necessarily biblical) that God has given me to build His Kingdom. It has expression through me but is not my identity. When we allow our gifting or calling to become our identity e.g. Apostle, Prophet, administrator, leadership, it becomes about us and we fall into idolatry of self and the gift.
- When we are operating in our giftings it is always with love. It always puts relationship before gifting and this will be reflected in the way the gift is manifested and shared.
- Giftings are always used to uplift, encourage, edify. They always call people up higher and points them to Christ. Gifts such as prophecy should place no legalistic demands or expectations upon people.
- You’re gifted so you can serve. Find the place you fit, but it also doesn’t exclude you from serving in other areas when needed.
- Being gifted does not make you an expert. Maturity means you are teachable and correctable if necessary. You are progressively developing and maturing in your giftings.
- The new wineskin is about team players. Learn to flow with others around you. Everyone brings something of the whole picture to the table.
- Ministering maturely in your giftings means you do so with good manners, are sensitive to others, sensitive to timing, environment, circumstances, peoples’ energy levels and are obedient to the Holy Spirit.
- You have an intimate relationship with God so that your personal integrity and godly character are developed.
- Your gift makes room for you. Prov 18:16. Kim Thompson-Pinder says it like this: “So how does your gift make room for you and bring you before great men? The more you use your gift, the bigger it gets. It is like a well-toned muscle that gets stronger and more powerful each time it is tested. Over time as you become excellent in your gift, it gets noticed by others, and as you prove trustworthy, God will open doors for you that you could never imagine.” There is no maturity in self-promotion or being pushy. Operate in the gifts when you have the opportunity with love and humility and your gifts will grow.
- Not everything God may give you, especially if you are a prophet or a seer, is meant to be shared. Learn to ask God what part if any of what He gives you is for that person, church or group. The things He shows you are valuable treasures from Heaven and not to be given out without thought or care for the impact they may have.
WHAT ABOUT THE ‘YOUNG’ IN CHRIST?
There have been times when I have been ministered to by new Christians and it has been obvious they are testing their wings and doing so out of a good heart – and so we give grace and encouragement back to them. If you’re in a leadership position, one of the most powerful things you can do is to give these ‘young’ one’s opportunities to grow. If the same people in the room are always operating in their gifts after a while those less confident will stop trying.
There have been encounters where character has not yet grown and rudeness, pride and self-promotion have come to the fore. In another I have seen a woman only a few years saved in the Lord who has a powerful ministry with much fruit but who is not sensitive to people’s boundaries and protocols and feel that they can function anywhere they wish to. This may well be the case, but the fruits of godly character need to come to the fore and govern the giftings and the calling or they will self-sabotage what God has called them to do.
This is not an exhaustive list. More of an encouragement that God is calling us up higher into new levels of maturity in our relationships with each other and with Him. It is wonderful to be in a room and watch the Holy Spirit manifesting in a flow through several different people, each adding to the bigger picture. When we function like this corporately we can literally change our world.