I’ve been subjected to “spiritual gift tests” several times in my Christian life. By my wording, you can guess that I am not a fan of these gift tests. I suppose there is a time and place for them, but I do not think they should be considered the primary or most accurate way to discover your spiritual gifts.
These tests are subjective, in various ways. The tests are created by human beings and the wording of the questions themselves could skew results. And the personality and perspective of the person taking the test can skew results. No one can view themselves purely objectively, and our opinion of our proclivities could go either way.
[Not to mention that the spiritual gift options themselves can vary. I was amused that a recent spiritual gift test I had to take was clearly written by a charismatic. One could have the gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles, and healing. Well, I scored zero on those. haha.]
But I digress. No one can view themselves purely objectively. For example, I observed someone who scored high on 12 out of 20 spiritual gift options. Uh, 12 out of 20? You are very gifted indeed! This person did not have a clear perception of themselves, and if you see yourself as excelling in that many ways, I think a dose of humility is in order.
However, it can also go the opposite way. Some individuals, for various reasons, may not perceive their gifts, or rate themselves low/average with a gift that they actually exceptionally possess. They are modest, and would hesitate to give themselves a top rating.
Perhaps you thought these spiritual gift tests were the only option? How can you discern your gifts? Well, I am not totally dissing these gift tests, as they may be a place to begin for someone who is uncertain about their gifts. But I would suggest not taking the results at face value…
- Try serving in various ways, and assisting the Body of Christ. Give things a try. Including things that you might assume is not your gift. Surprise, you may discover you are gifted at something you’d never considered a possibility for yourself. Gifts can be buried or latent, waiting to be brought to light. Giving things a try may help confirm what your gifts are…or are not.
- I once heard a pastor say that a way to discern your gifts is to consider where you typically notice deficiency or lack. (Not being critical, but simply noting that something is missing.) For example, if in the church or other Christian environments, you typically notice when there is a lack of exhortation or teaching and it really concerns you – that may be a good indicator that these are your gifts because the deficiency stands out.
- Also consider feedback from others. Are you getting unsolicited positive comments when you serve in a certain way? That can be a good indicator of gifting. But are you also open to constructive criticism? You may think you are good at something that you are actually not-so-good at. Ask for feedback from others, encourage them to be honest, and be humble enough to consider their thoughts.
Of course, prayer should be a component of all this!
When you find something that gives you joy to do (even though it may be difficult or challenging at times, like anything in life) – and – you are also getting positive feedback from others about it, you have likely found your gifting.
In closing, I did not even address what spiritual gifts are and are not. Briefly, the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5) are not spiritual gifts. I’ve seen those 2 things confused. Nor are spiritual gifts a talent per se, but gifts specially bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Key passages that list spiritual gifts are: 1 Corinthians 12-14; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; and 1 Peter 4.