Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist, Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
There’s a small passage tucked away in the Book of Esther that I have found fascinating for quite awhile. It’s found in Esther 2:18, and it’s a description of what occurs after Esther is crowned queen. It says, “The king held a great banquet for all his officials and staff. It was Esther’s banquet. He freed his provinces from tax payments and gave gifts worthy of the king’s bounty.”
This banquet was a celebration in light of Esther’s coronation, but those living in the entire kingdom benefited from the joyous occasion. They enjoyed a break from taxes, but they also received gifts from the king’s possessions. I find it interesting that undeserving gifts were given and the entire kingdom benefited from Esther’s royal position.
As believers, you and I received undeserved gifts when we were welcomed into God’s family. They are called spiritual gifts. The New Testament describes spiritual gifts given through the Holy Spirit as, when exercised, gifts that bring joy to both the local church, the global church, and gifts that help fulfill the purpose of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.
I watched this in action several weeks ago when I attended the launch of a new church campus. I was an out-of-town guest, but I got a front row seat of observing how this local body used their gifts and talents and portrayed a healthy body of believers. I felt like I was in a master class of learning and observing how everyone took ownership of this new facility and how they each played a part by serving, encouraging, teaching, and shepherding those who entered their doors.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” The word varied in Greek is poikilēs, which translates as “many-colored.” To have varied—or poikilēs—grace of God means we have various, diverse, and many-colored gifts. And, just like King Ahasuerus (King Xerxes in some translations) threw a celebration in Esther’s honor, our heavenly Father graces us with various and multi-colored spiritual gifts.
But what are spiritual gifts, and how do I know what mine is? And then how do I use my gift to bring glory to God? As leaders, consider the following to determine how God has uniquely gifted you to serve.
First, learn the difference between spiritual gifts, talents, and personality traits. There are many personality “tests” and tools to determine how you are wired and how you respond in certain situations. Whether you’re a fan of Myers-Briggs, the DISC profile, or the increasingly popular Enneagram, your personality does not determine your spiritual gifts. Neither are your talents a spiritual gift. You may be a musician, an excellent writer, or a great cook, but these are not spiritual gifts. These are talents that can be the result of training or possibly genetic traits passed down from one generation to another. Talents can be possessed by anyone, Christian or non-Christian, but spiritual gifts are given to believers by the Holy Spirit.
Second, learn about the various spiritual gifts found in Scripture. Several passages point toward spiritual gifts. There is not one exhaustive list and there are varying thoughts regarding whether some gifts are still in use today or have ceased in their use. For Scripture passages referencing spiritual gifts, look at Ephesians 4:11-14, 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, and Romans 12:7-8. Also, consider taking a spiritual gifts assessment to help you identify where you might have strengths in one or more gifts. Exercise those gifts in opportunities to serve within your local church family. Others may confirm those gifts as they see you serve, and you may find joy in using a particular gift. For an excellent article on spiritual gifts with links to an assessment tool, click here. For a list of several books on this subject, go to Lifeway.com and type “spiritual gifts” in the search bar at the top. You’ll find several reliable sources to help you explore the differences between gifts and how they can be used.
Third, recognize that spiritual gifts are genderless. Several years ago, my husband and I both went through a gifts assessment. He scores high in giving, serving, and mercy. I score higher in gifts such as leadership, teaching, and shepherding. He looked puzzled and made the comment, “I feel like I got the ‘girl’ gifts and you got the ‘guy’ gifts.” We laughed about the preconceived ideas that many people have when it comes to giftedness—that men and women possess different kinds of gifts. Nothing could be further than the truth. God’s Word does not assign gender-specific gifts, so we shouldn’t shy away from women who have the gift of teaching, leadership, or evangelism. Celebrate all the gifts and how God can use them regardless of whether you are a male or female.
Fourth, keep in mind that many spiritual gifts are commanded by God for all of us to carry out, even if we aren’t gifted in that area. For instance, some people have the gift of evangelism. Sharing the gospel comes quite naturally to them, and they have a spiritual ability to convey God’s Word and see a harvest. I’ve personally watched this, and I marvel at the ease in which they clearly present the plan of salvation to those who need it. Even so, I may not have the gift of evangelism, but all of us should learn to exercise this gift. We can’t use the excuse that we don’t share the gospel because we don’t have the gift. Scripture has called all of us to go and make disciples of all nations.
Finally, determine how you can use your spiritual gifts to edify the body of Christ. Help your leadership team discover their gifts. Consider offering a short-term class on determining spiritual gifts, whether it’s just for your leadership team or a wider group. You never know—you might discover someone with a gift that isn’t represented on your team. They may add an incredible value or insight because of that gift. Even if they aren’t on a team, encourage women to discover other places they might serve and be effective. A helpful ministry to consider is PLACE Ministries. They offer resources that help people navigate how God has uniquely created you to serve and lead.
Are you ready to lead well? Sign up for the ministry to women newsletter to get monthly content specifically for leaders here. Get training at events like YOU Lead around the country and Women’s Leadership Forum this month in Nashville, TN.
Kelly King is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Women. She has a Master of Theology degree from Gateway Seminary. She has been involved in women’s ministry and led Bible studies for more than 30 years. A native Oklahoman, Kelly and her husband Vic enjoy kayaking and exploring their new state of Tennessee. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide to Leading Women in the Local Church and Living By Faith: Women Who Trusted God.