The role of the Spirit
When Jesus returned to the Father he said to the disciples that it was good that he was going away so that the Holy Spirit would come (John 14). How is the Spirit manifest? Apart from his speaking to us and drawing our attention to Jesus in worship he gives us grace gifts for the benefit of the church to be exercised on a daily basis.
Being entrusted with specific spiritual gifts is no credit to us any more than the delivery man takes credit for the present you may have been given by a favourite aunt for your birthday. His job is to deliver it safely to you so that you can benefit from it. Likewise, our job is to deliver the gifts He gives us to edify the church. So our role is to be faithful.
We need to be exercising spiritual gifts at all times – they are basic equipment. A soldier is not given a rifle as a reward for fighting well – he is given one in order to be able to do so. In 1 Cor 14:12 Paul tells us that there will be manifestations of the Spirit as we strive to build up the church. Once we are ‘on the move’ he gives us the gifts we need to make progress.
How many gifts?
There are various classic lists of gifts e.g. in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. But these are not all. For instance, craftsmanship seems to qualify as mentioned in the last posting. If we are willing to acknowledge such as gifts it can be argued that there are 28. But it would be a bold person to be dogmatic on this issue – only the Holy Spirit knows!
Some gifts are clearly more relevant to a team setting than others but potentially all are of value. In order not to be overwhelmed it may be helpful to think of them in 4 categories, excluding the ‘gifts of men’ in Ephesians 4 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher):
- Manifestation Gifts (e.g. Word of knowledge, Word of wisdom, Prophecy…)
- Sacrificial Gifts (e.g. martyrdom, celibacy – not always popular gifts!)
- Service Gifts (e.g. Giving, Administration, Serving…)
- People Intensive Gifts (e.g. Hospitality, Leadership, Evangelism, Pastoring…)
How do these fit into a team setting?
It can be envisaged how all have a place (well, perhaps not martyrdom) though some may be more obvious than others. As an example, any team I have been in with Terry Virgo has always laid great emphasis on the place of prayer and prophecy. No team he leads ever begins its agenda without a substantial amount of time in prayer. The fuller the agenda the more need there is for prayer with the expectation that God will speak through prophecy.
How often has this happened – and the agenda has totally changed as a result! The outcomes of the meeting with its affect on the development of Newfrontiers had been totally unpredicted until that intervention of the Spirit. Conspicuous among these would be, for instance, the time when God spoke to us in such a time of prayer about closing the Downs Bible Week (view video), a very successful annual event held in south east England to which 8,500 came on the tenth and final occasion in 1988. We had already invited the speaker for 1989 but God told us to close it. Two years later, in 1990, God told us to reopen a Bible Week in the heart of the nation. As a result, the Stoneleigh Bible Week was held from 1991 – 2001, ending with 28,000 attending.
Such directions did not come by discussion of an item on the agenda but from a prophetic words which were weighed and for which we sought confirmation in the subsequent weeks. This was a spiritual gift (prophecy) in action in a ‘business’ meeting which changed the lives of thousands of people!
So, don’t feel spiritual gifts are only for ‘spiritual’ meetings. The whole of life is about walking in the Spirit.
Next time we will progress to the third and fourth items on our serving profile: spiritual maturity and time availability.