Spiritual Gifts Descriptions

Print and use this list as a guideline to the spiritual gifts of Administration, Evangelism, Exhortation, Giving, Mercy Showing, Pastoring/Shepherding, Prophecy, Serving, and Teaching. See below for additional spiritual gifts resources.

Administration

The Greek word "kubernesis" means one who steers a ship. This expert had the responsibility to bring a ship into the harbor through the rocks and shoals, under all types of pressures. As an administrator you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by organizing, administering, promoting, and leading the various affairs of the church. The administrator is not a glorified file clerk.

As an administrator you are a take-charge person who jumps in and starts giving orders when no one is in charge. You will put a plan on paper and start delegating responsibility. You may lean toward organizing things, events or programs, OR toward organizing people, emphasizing personal relationships and leadership responsibilities. In the first case, you usually organize details and have people carry them out. In the second case, you tend to organize people and rely on others to take care of the little things.

You don't often admit to mistakes and do not like to take time to explain why you are doing things; you just expect the job to get done. If things in the church, office, club, etc. become fragmented, you can harmonize the whole program if given a chance. You are a person with a dream and are not afraid to attempt the impossible. You are goal-oriented, well-disciplined, and work best under heavy pressure. You are often a good motivator and not a procrastinator. You are serious minded, highly motivated, intense, and have an accurate self-image. You tend to be more interested in the welfare of the group than your own desire. You are probably a perfectionist and want things done your way now.

Although to others you appear to be organized, you usually aren't. Be careful that you do not make decisions just based on logic rather than Scripture. Work on your willingness to admit to making a mistake and on being more sensitive to "little" people. Try to be a little more tolerant of other people's mistakes.
Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He can cause pride because of your leadership role, selfishness because of success (not sharing glory with those under you), blame-shifting when things go wrong, discouragement and frustration when goals are not met, anger and mistreatment of those who disagree with your plans, lack of concern for people, lack of spiritual growth, and wrong motives.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? You may work well as the leader of a project, ministry, or program; chairman of a committee or board; a church planner; or chairman of building or fund-raising projects. Other positions where you may serve well include pastor, assistant pastor, business manager, office manager or department head for large staff, Sunday school superintendent, fellowship group or missionary circle leader, library manager, camp director, church moderator, bus ministry director, nursery coordinator or Vacation Bible School director.

Evangelism

That does not necessarily mean you are supposed to travel the world, preaching the Gospel. The Greek word "Euangelistes" means to proclaim glad tidings, a messenger of good. It denotes a proclaimer of the Gospel. The evangelist can either be a preacher who stands before a crowd, imploring them to be saved, or perhaps an individual sitting in a living room or on a plane, trying to persuade someone to accept Christ. As an evangelist you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by leading people who are beyond your natural sphere of influence to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You are sometimes classified as the aggressive soulwinner who seeks the lost.

As an evangelist you are likely very outgoing and personable. You compliment even strangers and are not afraid to ask them questions about their lifestyle - such as where they work, what hobbies they have, what's their favorite sports team, where they were born, and do they attend church. This opens the door to talk about their relationship with Jesus Christ - something you're just itching to do. Be careful not to be too overbearing or you may push some people farther away from Christ.

You have great joy in seeing people come to Christ and are often consumed with the desire to confront sinners with the Gospel. You urge other Christians to do the same by directly telling them they must win souls or by encouraging them by telling about your most recent experience. However, you must be careful not to belittle them or make them feel unspiritual because they do not have the burden for lost souls like you do.

You probably have memorized Scripture so you are not caught "empty-handed" while witnessing. Rather than waiting for opportunities to present the Gospel, the evangelist often makes opportunities. Since you will influence so many people, you must be careful to live in such a manner that you do not bring reproach upon your message. For instance, if you influence 30 people and only one of them accepts Christ immediately, the other 29 are left to be harvested later (by you or someone else). If you were to fall spiritually, your life's witness may negatively influence those 29 onlookers against Christianity.

If you are a new Christian, you may want to begin using your gift by providing prospects to seasoned evangelists and giving testimonies to those you knew before you were saved. Perhaps you could pair up with an experienced evangelist to follow up on prospects and visit strangers for the purpose of reaching them for Christ.

If you are a more mature Christian, with experience in evangelizing, take a new Christian "evangelist" under your wing. Share your experiences with him or her and provide encouragement. Continue to look for opportunities to share the Gospel and lead souls to Christ.

Other people may tend to think you are pushy, that you are more interested in numbers than people, and that you judge their spirituality by the number of souls thay have won. Beware that Satan can attack your gift by causing pride in your number of converts, causing failure to grow and learn, causing you to see people as numbers rather than people with needs, causing discouragement when converts are few or infrequent, and causing a lack of concern for Bible passages that cannot be used as "soulwinning texts."

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? There are many avenues in which you can carry out the gift of evangelism. Visitation programs are the most obvious. You may enjoy visiting juvenile detention centers or jails, going door-to-door, going to orphanages and shelters for women or the homeless, and of course, following up on visitors in their homes. Your gift is a plus for leading people to Christ during an invitation or altar call. You could participate in special evangelistic efforts, such as fairs and other events. Your gift also fits well in church planting, on Gospel teams, in migrant ministry, men's or women's conferences, and many public speaking ministries.

Exhortation

The Greek word "parakaleo" means to admonish, to encourage, to beseech. You are a "how to" person. You have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by motivating others to action by urging them to pursue a course of conduct. In a teaching position, you are able to explain how to apply God's Word. Your goal is to present material that enables the Holy Spirit to promote change in the student's life. You reach out and help Christians become more mature.

As an exhorter you are a very practical person, a good counselor, tolerant of others, serious-minded, orderly, and usually impulsive. You are expressive in a group setting; the group listens when you speak. You are comfortable working one-on-one or in groups. You are enthusiastic and talkative and enjoy encouraging others.

You are burdened to show how Scripture relates to conduct and have a desire to unify people by using practical rather than doctrinal issues. You likely place great importance on God's will and believe that His Word has the answer for every problem. You tend to make decisions logically rather than on feelings and are very orderly.

Be careful not to interrupt other people; your enthusiasm sometimes makes you guilty of this. Others may think you don't use enough Scripture in teaching because you tend to use Scripture to support what you are teaching rather than starting with Scripture.

Unlike teachers, you have the willingness to teach the same material again and again, updating and perfecting it as you do. As a counselor you usually have the ability to leave other people's problems "in the office" rather than letting them drag you down.

Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He may cause pride in your motivational abilities. He may influence you to lose sight of people because of program emphasis. Don't become discouraged when results are not evident. Be careful not to encourage others to do the wrong things through your persuasive abilities.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? You may use your special gift in many areas. You may want to be a leadership trainer. You could certainly serve as a counselor in church or in a counseling center. You could teach in church training or seminars or even small groups. You would make a good telephone ministry worker and would be a tremendous volunteer to follow up with new converts. You would work well as an encourager with those who are discouraged and as a counselor in a drug or alcohol program, rescue mission, poverty program, half-way house or runaway ministry or in a shelter for abused women and children. You could also use your gift in organizing or serving in a Men's or Women's Ministry.

Giving

The Greek word "metadidomi" means to give over, to share, to give to, to impart. As a giver you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by giving of your material resources, far beyond the tithe, to further the work of God. You have a strong desire to meet the financial needs of your fellow Christians and church members.

As a giver you probably feel that the best way you can give of yourself is to give of your material gain for the work of God. You give without public recognition and usually do not want people to know who you are nor how much is given. You disapprove of anyone who gives for the wrong motive. Your motive is to further the work of God and meet real needs, not to show off or get something in return.

You are usually well organized, keep to yourself, have an accurate self-image, are interested in helping people, and are conscientious and self-disciplined. You may also have the ability to make money. You are sensitive to the financial and material needs of others, alert to needs others overlook, ready to give, want your gift to be high quality, make quick decisions concerning finances, want to ensure your gift is used properly, and may have a burden for missions. Chances are your spouse has the gift of giving too.

Be careful not to measure other Christians' spirituality by the amount of their giving or their success by the amount of their material assets. Realize that though God has called everyone to give, He has not called everyone to give as you do. You are sometimes misunderstood as being materialistic because of your emphasis on money. Some people think you try to control them with your money and may be jealous of you.

Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He can cause pride because of the amount you give, blindness to spiritual needs and qualities and to other areas of service, and discontent when decisions are made contrary to your interests. Do not develop a critical attitude of those who are not able to give. Make sure you have the right motives for giving and serving Christ. Don't mistake your burden for giving to missions as a call to the mission field. Don't neglect to give to the necessity of other Christians (as challenged in Romans 12:13) by giving only to church projects. Remember you can still give even if it is not tax deductible.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? Your gift is welcome anywhere large or small amounts of money are needed. You can serve as a member of a finance or budget committee or a missions or building committee. You may make a good trustee. You would serve well as a member of a school board or commission. You would do great service as a poverty, rescue mission, or migrant mission committee member. You could sponsor or underwrite special projects, radio, or TV ministries. Always be aware and willing to meet needs of an individual apart from programs. In this sense, you could serve on a benevolence committee or give to support such a ministry. You may want to support a men's or women's ministry, a shelter for the temporarily unemployed and homeless or the abused, or contribute to children who do not have parents.

Mercy Showing

The Greek word "ellco" means to feel sympathy with or for others. As a mercy-shower you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by identifying with and comforting those who are in distress. You understand and comfort your fellow Christian. You enter into the grief or happiness of others and have the ability to show empathy which is to feel WITH others, not just for others.

As a mercy-shower you are willing to deal with and minister to people who have needs that most people feel very uncomfortable working with. You seem to say the right thing at the right time. Your personality is likely one of soft-spoken love. It hurts you to scold someone; you are very non-condemning. People love you because of all the love you give them. You find it easy to express yourself and are outgoing with a low-key, inoffensive personality. You are easy to talk to, responsive to people, a good listener, peaceable, and agreeable. You tend to make decisions based on feelings more than fact and like to think about things for a while before making a decision.

In your burden to comfort others, your heart goes out to the poor, the aged, the ill, the underprivileged, and so on. You tend to attract people who are hurting or rejoicing because you identify with them. Be careful not to let others use you. Try not to resent others who are not as understanding as you. Refrain from becoming a gossiper when you are around other mercy-showers. Do not let your circumstances control you. Because of your supernatural ability to show mercy, others accuse you of taking up for people, being a softy and a compromiser. They may think you are too emotional.

Mercy-showers make excellent counselors. However, left untrained, you may destroy yourself by your tendency to take people's problems home with you. Your empathy can become detrimental without personal training on how to deal with it.

Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He can cause pride because of your ability to relate to others. He may influence you to disregard rules and authority. You may experience a lack of discipline because of strong feeling for those who hurt due to disobedience and sin. Don't fall into Satan's trap of complaining and griping.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? Your gift is used best in times of sorrow and in times of great joy. It fits well with another gift of service such as deacon, youth worker or hospital visitation. With a counseling course, you could become a good counselor. You may serve as a hospital, nursing home, or shut-in worker; a funeral coordinator and provider of sympathy and support; or a poverty center worker. You would do well as an usher or greeter and welcome center worker or hospitality person. You may want to work in a telephone ministry. You would make people feel welcome on a newcomer visitation team. Other appropriate ministry areas include missions, committee member, furlough assistance, and correspondence helper. You would work well with the elderly and with people who have mental and physical disabilities, in nursing, and with special ministries to migrants, released offenders or abused children and women.

Pastoring/Shepherding

The Greek word "poimen" means pastor. In Paul's spiritual gifts listing in Ephesians 4:11, this term is translated "pastor." Although the word "poimen" is translated pastor only one time in Scripture it is used sixteen additional times. The remaining sixteen are all translated "shepherd." Therefore, we are actually discussing the GIFT of shepherding, not the POSITION of pastor. Though a good pastor must have the gift of shepherding, everyone who has the gift of shepherding is not called to be pastor. The gift can be used in many positions in a church.

As a gifted shepherd, you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by overseeing, training, and caring for the needs of a group of Christians. You are usually very patient, people-centered, and willing to spend time in prayer for others. You tend to be a "Jack of All and Master of ONE," meaning you are usually dominant in one of the speaking gifts (evangelist, prophet, teacher, exhorter) as well. You are often authoritative, more a leader than a follower, and expressive, composed, and sensitive. Your pleasing personality draws people to you.

You have a burden to see others learn and grow and are protective of those under your care. You want to present the whole Word of God and do not like to present the same materials more than once. You are willing to study what is necessary to feed your group and are more relationship oriented than task oriented. You are a peace-maker and diplomat - very tolerant of people's weaknesses. You tend to remember people's names and faces. You are more concerned with doing for others than others doing for you. You are faithful and devoted and may become a workaholic. You can become an all-purpose person in order to meet needs.

People with the gift of shepherding make the best Sunday school teachers and group leaders because their desire is to go beyond just teaching or leading, to shepherd and minister to the daily needs of their students. The position of Sunday school teacher or group leader is an extension of the pastoral ministry in the church. These groups should be shepherded on a small scale the same as the pastor shepherds the whole congregation on a large scale.

Be careful to involve other people; don't try to do it all yourself. Work on making people accountable. Do not be overly protective of your "flock." Because of these potentially weak areas, other people may think it is your job to do all the work; they rely too heavily on you. You may be expected to be available at all times, know all the answers, and be at every function. Learn when to say no.

Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He will cause discouragement when the load gets heavy, and pride because your "sheep" look up to you. You may develop family problems because of too little time and attention. You may become selfish when "sheep" feed in other pastures.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? This gift is a great help in many areas. You may serve as a Sunday school teacher, small group leader, pastor or assistant pastor, bus captain, special ministry leader (such as youth, children, men, etc.), nursery worker or as a half-way house or other type shelter volunteer. You may consider serving as a dormitory leader in a college, orphanage, children's home, etc. Scout troops would appreciate your assistance as a den leader.

Prophecy

That does not mean you are supposed to have visions of the future. It means you are a "forthteller," telling or "speaking forth" the mind of God: preaching, speaking, and teaching God's Word. You are very discerning; one who points out sin with the goal of making Christians aware of sin in their lives so they will repent. A prophet in full-time Christian service is usually a "hell-fire, brimstone preacher." You have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by proclaiming His truth.

As a prophet you have an ability to see that which is wrong. In fact, you tend to easily spot what is wrong and have to look to find something right. You probably spend much time praying and even weeping over the sins of the church and for lost sinners. You have a great burden over the sinful condition of the world around you. Because of this, you take every opportunity to proclaim that everyone must repent or perish.

You have a strong sense of duty and are very opinionated, impatient, and likely more depressed or serious than lighthearted about life. You enjoy being alone, but would rather be in a group than relate to people one-on-one. You desire to speak publicly. You are able to make quick decisions and want things done right. You do not like in-depth study.

Other people may think you are demanding, that you enjoy hurting people's feelings, and that you have no understanding. One of your greatest challenges is to keep a spirit of love. Remember to "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15) and not to be judgmental. If you keep a tender, loving heart, you will be a blessing in your home, church, and to individuals. You can make a real impact on their spirituality. Be careful to let the Holy Spirit convict people, rather than trying to convict them yourself. Work on being a little more positive, patient, and tactful.

Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He may try to cause a lack of compassion and forgiveness, bring discouragement because of unrepentant attitudes by others, entice you to fall into the very sins you speak against or cause pride and self-righteousness over lack of certain sins.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? There are several avenues in which to carry out the gift of prophecy. Revival speaking is certainly a fitting ministry. You can pastor well IF you have a secondary gift of pastor/shepherd. You are a great help in problem-solving for a church with a sin problem. You could also serve in teaching on Gospel teams, in prison ministry, in migrant ministry, and in counseling to help bring awareness of sin in a person's life. You could speak at conferences and retreats.

Serving

The Greek word "Diakonia" means to do service. In Acts 6:1 the word is interpreted "ministration." Our word deacon comes from the same Greek word. Actually the gift of serving combines helps and ministering. The word "helps" is used in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and "ministering" in Romans 12:7. As a server you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by rendering practical help in both physical and spiritual matters. You enjoy meeting the practical needs of your fellow Christians and the church.

The gift of serving is not the gift God gives you when you cannot do anything else. It is spiritual in nature and as important as any gift in the church. Never think it is anything less; it only becomes less if you do not use it as God intended.

As a server you are the person who is willing to do a million and one necessary tasks in the church. You probably do not realize that your love for the Lord is showing every time the doors of the church are open, especially if you oiled the hinges last week so they don't squeak any more. You are happy working behind the scenes. You are ambitious, often involved in a variety of activities, and enjoy manual projects. You are loyal, sincere, tolerant, faithful, and devoted. Most people find you easy going, likable, congenial, and inoffensive. You can listen to others without being critical. You do not like to be in the spotlight and prefer not to express yourself publicly.

You are quick to respond to needs and impressed with the need to respond when exhorted to serve. Because of this, you find it difficult to say no. You like to support a good leader. Some consider you a workaholic. You tend to emphasize practical needs over spiritual needs.

Be careful that you complete what you start and do not neglect the needs of your own family by trying to meet so many needs in the church or in others' homes. Be willing to read and follow directions in the beginning--not just when all else fails. Because of your quick response, some people think you jump in too fast. Others think you neglect spiritual needs.

Beware of Satan's attack on your gift. He can cause pride because of the work you do. He may cause you to feel insignificant or cause you to lack concern for people or for spiritual growth. Impatience and lack of knowledge cause poor-quality workmanship.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? Your gift may put you into action. You may serve as manager of maintenance and grounds. You can do may tasks such as paint the walls, pick up trash, sort hymnals, clean the baptistry, keep the nursery≠or launder nursery bedding, cook meals, paint signs, drive the bus, help with the choir, run errands, serve as an audio-video worker, help with recordkeeping, be the church librarian, act as a greeter or an usher, serve as a stage hand in drama productions or as a photographer. You may want to help in special ministries such as migrant or community help (with home repairs or meal-on-wheels for the needy and elderly), as a hospitality worker for newcomers, or as an instrumentalist. You may also enjoy beautifying the church ground with flower gardens and landscaping. The list goes on.

Teaching

The Greek word for teacher "didaskalos" means master, teacher or doctor. As a teacher you are one who communicates knowledge, guides, makes known or relays facts. You are likely more in-depth than the average Sunday school teacher. You have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by making clear the truth of God's Word with accuracy.

As a teacher you live to learn and teach (or perhaps write if you teach through the written medium). You should learn to teach in two manners which may be contrary to your nature. The material must be simple so students can understand it, and it must be practical. The pastor/shepherd, the prophet, and the exhorter (those with speaking gifts) usually rely on your resources to help fulfill their responsibilities.

You love the Word, enjoy reading, may be a little shy of strangers, are creative and imaginative, and prefer teaching groups over individuals. You are generally confident, self-disciplined, and sometimes technical. You probably love charts, graphs, and lists. You would sometimes rather just do research, but "must teach" because others would not teach it the way you would. The use of a verse out of context upsets you and you question the knowledge of those who teach you. You are organized and enjoy studying. You are so concerned with accuracy that you often dwell on the trivial, giving others the feeling that you give too many details. Some may even think you are boring.

Be careful that you are not critical of people who differ with your doctrine and that you do not measure other people's spirituality by their amount of Bible knowledge. Be willing to listen as well as talk. Don't hesitate to read directions and work on developing tolerance for others' mistakes.

If you score high in the gift of teaching and very low in the gift of shepherding, you probably won't make a good Sunday school teacher or group leader. Your tendency will be to relay knowledge and not shepherd or minister to the other needs of your students. People who use the gift of teaching in vocational service usually become teachers of teachers, professors, authors, or in-depth researchers.

HOW CAN YOU USE THIS GIFT? You do not necessarily have to teach the Bible to be a help to the church ministry. Although you can help with interpretation or teaching teachers and others, you may teach in areas such as education, business, finance, or computers. You may enjoy writing and developing curriculum. You would probably serve well as a Bible institute teacher or a correspondence course instructor. Your gift also lends itself to the mission field where you could serve as a missionary/teacher. You may want to teach a basic doctrine course to newcomers or new Christians or host quarterly small group studies on different topics. You may enjoy doing research for the pastor or others who teach.


To learn more about these gifts and about how spiritual gifts relate to your daily life, ministry, and church, obtain the Team Ministry book entitled How to Find Meaning and Fulfillment through Understanding the Spiritual Gift within You by Dr. Larry Gilbert. Click here for more information or to order.