Discovering your Spiritual Gifts (Part 3) – Gospel in Life

Discovering your Spiritual Gifts (Part 3)

Tim Keller |  October 7, 1990

Download Agreement

By downloading this file, I confirm I understand Gospel in Life's Copyright & Permissions policies and agree to only use this file for personal usage and will not upload it to any third-party platforms.


  • Purpose and Calling
  • Spiritual Gifts
  • The Church (Unity, Fellowship, Leadership)
Ephesians 4:1-16
RS 214-03


In this talk, Tim Keller tries to elucidate several issues concerning spiritual gifts. First, we don’t choose which gifts we have; they are given by God. Secondly, the church body plays a role (but does not have the final say) in confirming a person’s gifts. Thirdly, we must be careful to never mistake our talents for spiritual fruit. Finally, Tim discusses the three elements to discerning a call: affinity, ability, and opportunity.

Ephesians 4:1–16

Living a good Christian life involves being united with our fellow believers, but also appreciating the different gifts God gives us. These gifts help us serve others and build up the church. It’s important to be wise so we won’t be tricked by false teachings. We must first understand that we all share in the salvation Jesus offers before we focus on our different experiences of that salvation. Unity and diversity are both parts of being a Christian, and we each experience God’s grace in our own way. It’s crucial to know that unity doesn’t mean we all have to be the same. Instead, the church should be a place where we can grow and be ourselves.

1. You don’t call yourself

God is the one who calls us to serve Him, not our own abilities or status. The churches in Europe and Britain have made mistakes in the past by choosing leaders based on worldly qualifications instead of God’s call. It’s important to remember that having talents doesn’t mean you have spiritual gifts. A true sign of God’s call is humility.

2. You can’t be totally individualistic in your call, and you can’t be totally collectivistic

When we try to figure out God’s call on our own, we might mistake what we want for what God wants. The church’s job is not to tell us what our call is, but to help us find it through guidance, prayer, and examples. We need to balance seeking confirmation from the church with actively serving, without being passive or only thinking about ourselves.

3. In thinking about your spiritual gifts, avoid two opposite extremes I call “gift copout” and “gift projection”

Our gifts are also our responsibilities. This means we all have a role in contributing, sharing the gospel, encouraging others, and having faith, even if we have different talents. We should try different ministries, learn new things, and always keep growing, instead of avoiding responsibilities or expecting others to do what we’re gifted to do. A real call to serve combines a desire to serve, the ability to do so, and the opportunity. If these don’t line up, we should trust God’s timing and look for other ways to serve.

1. Do you have a burden, an interest, a desire to do a certain kind of ministry?

Maybe you feel a strong pull to join a group that’s already serving, or perhaps you have a burning idea to start something new.

2. Do you have what it takes to meet the need?

Serving God and growing spiritually can sometimes make us question if we’re ready or capable. But we need to remember that our ability comes from God’s grace and power, not our own. Even when we feel limited, we can trust that God will give us what we need.

3. Are there others who will work with you?

If nobody seems interested in joining you in serving, it might not be the church’s fault. Perhaps it’s just not God’s time yet. We should check ourselves to make sure we’re ready, willing, and able. If we are, then we might need to seek God’s guidance again.

4. Upon reflection and research, is there really an open door?

Our spiritual gifts and service should lead to growth, unity, and personal faith development in the church. But we need to balance active service with growing in the fruits of the Spirit, like love and patience. Being busy or just absorbing information doesn’t mean we’re growing spiritually. The most important goal is to love others. This comes from spending time with Jesus and knowing that through Him, we’re ready to serve and united in our faith, our Lord, our baptism, and our God.



Blessed Self-Forgetfulness

By Tim Keller

The Purpose of Christmas

By Tim Keller

Mission and Meaning

By Tim Keller

May Book Offer

Share the reason for the hope within you!

In The Reason for God, Tim Keller examines literature, philosophy, real-life conversations and reasoning to present how faith in Christ is a sound and rational belief with intellectual integrity.