I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:1-8

For the body of Christ to function in a Biblical manner, it is essential that the members of his body (the body parts; arms, legs, eyes, heart, lungs, etc.) must understand their function in the body and give themselves to performing that function. So, if I am an arm and I think it would be much more cool to be a leg, and I try to act like a leg, you can see that won’t work out too well. This image isn’t too hard to fathom.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

Romans 12:4-5

Every member of the body of Christ has all of these motivational gifts in their makeup, but one is the dominant gift. That dominant gift will color everything a person does. It will also be tinted by my lesser other gifts. For example, I may have a dominant gift of exhortation with a strong but secondary gift of mercy. The characteristics of an exhorter will color everything I do, but since I also have a strong gift of mercy, it will act as a very merciful exhorter. My point is that there is an almost infinite number of combinations of motivational gifts that will determine a great deal of the person you are. This sometimes makes it difficult to clearly identify your dominant gift.

So, what do I do if I don’t know what my dominant gift is? The answer to that is fairly easy: obey the word of God and pursue that which gives you great joy. Behaving in a way that flows with your gifting will give you joy. If you do some things because you think you should as a member of the church, and you feel like you are swimming upstream all the time, then you are probably out of your area of giftedness. That doesn’t mean that life will always be easy if you are giving yourself to your gifting, but it will be fulfilling. That is because you are fulfilling the purpose for which God has uniquely placed you on earth and in the body of Christ where you are.

Here is a silly little story to illustrate how the gifts will cause you to observe and act in a little different manner.

Seven friends, each of whom happen to coincidentally have a different motivational gift, are at a small gathering in a friends home. They have eaten dinner and the hostess is bringing in dessert on a tray when, lo and behold, the tray tips and the desserts are all spilled, some on the table and some on the floor. What a mess.

Here is how the seven friends responded based on their gifts.

Prophecy: “That’s what happens when you’re not careful.”

Server: “Oh, let me help you clean it up.”

Teaching: “Now the reason that fell was, it was too heavy on one side. You need to always be balanced.”

Exhortation: “Now next time, let’s serve dessert with the meal.”

Contributor: “I’d be happy to buy a new dessert.”

Mercy: “Don’t feel badly, it could have happened to anyone.”

Facilitator: “Jim, would you get the mop? Mary, would you pick this up here? Sue, help me fix some other dessert.”

Some fear that this kind of teaching is an attempt to put everyone in a box and make them like all the other “servers,” etc. Let me abuse you of that thinking immediately. In addition to the God given motivational gifts that shape your life, you also have an almost infinite number of environmental conditions that contribute to who you are. For instance, how you parents created the family environment you grew up in, your level of education, how you have been treated by friends and/or enemies growing up. There are many more contributing factors in our environment.

In addition to our environment, there are other categories of gifts from God. For example;

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”…And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…”

Ephesians 4:7-8, 11

Note that verse 7 says that grace was given to “each one.” Then he identifies those gifts in verse 11. I think it is important that we see that these are not church offices, but they are grace gifts. So, if one has the grace gift of shepherding, and he also have the motivational gift of mercy, he will perform his shepherding gift differently that another shepherd who has a motivational gift of a prophet or insight person.

I quickly refer to what I wrote about earlier that there are gifts from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The motivational gifts are from the Father, the ministry gifts (Pastor, Teacher, etc.) are from the Son, and the gifts in 1 Corinthians are from the Holy Spirit (they are referred to as “manifestations of the Spirit”). These manifestations are temporary gifts that come and go as the Spirit wills whereas the other categories dwell with the believer permanently.

My point? No one gets put in a box when the pursue the full range of God’s gifting for them in their life. We are all unique and will show forth the life and love of God in our own unique manner all to the Glory of our Redeemer.

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