Ministry Gift Mixes
by Daniel Brown
Although it is not the only way in which God intervenes in the world, His primary means for introducing rescue and blessing to His people is through other people. Of course, God can and does intervene supernaturally and sovereignly in the course of human history, but a close reading of the Bible reveals just how much He favors using His children to do His work on earth. We are His tools of choice because He loves people—each of us—and the entire focus of His work on earth centers on human beings.
Creation was incomplete until God birthed Adam and Eve. Though God's judgement fell upon depraved mankind, He still chose to work through people in Egypt to save them during the famine; in the same way, the Lord sent Moses—after teaching him it would not be through his natural power—to deliver Israel out from Egyptian captivity.
Whether it is Joshua or the Judges, Old Testament prophets or John the Baptist, God gifts His people with people. Most of the miracles in the Bible take place through the prayers, hands or words of men and women of God. So we would not be surprised when we read Jesus' words about the "greater works" His disciples shall do. An often overlooked development that happened hand in hand with the resurrection was Jesus' gift-giving—when He elected to give people-gifts, MINISTRY-GIFTS to His church.
The Lord who loves people like you and me loves to use us to do good to others. Just as Jesus "went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38), so are we intended by God to live our lives with high destiny and purpose. The least of us in the Kingdom of God has incredible ministry potential, and that significance fulfills what the Lord prophesied through Isaiah about the people of God:
"Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matthew 11:11
Knowing God's determined choice to display His redemptive power to all creation by restoring and utilizing people, the devil does everything he can to destroy our God-given personhood. Our enemy wants to distort all traces of the patterns God intentionally wove into our being. Just as the devil sought to preempt Moses' life and Jesus' life before they could fulfill their calling, so too will he try to prevent us from living out what God wants for our lives. The "thief comes to steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10)—to turn us away from our calling and purpose and ministry by any and every possible means.
The Holy Spirit works in our lives to make us "useful to the Master," and the "spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience" tries to move us toward the exact opposite goal.
Specially Made People
One of the most powerful messages contained in the Bible is that the Lord has uniquely crafted each of us, so that we correspond to an already-existing, deep desire in His heart. When we were born, God did not have to learn to love us; He already did! Though our life-experiences, our environment and our own choices have influenced who and what we are today, we are who and what God made us to be. That great truth is what Paul understood: "But by the grace of God I am what I am ?" Despite the ravages of life, the fundamental God-ordained composition of our lives remains intact deep within us.
How encouraging it is to realize that we are "the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hand—it is He who made us, and not we ourselves." The phenomenal and delightful variety we see evidenced among people bears testimony both to God's endless creativity and to His loving "appetite" for each unique one of us. God is not just a lover of the human race; He loves each particular person. The differences that we can see on the outside of people— their shapes and features—merely hint at the profound differences God has put in place beneath their physical appearances. Coming from the same set of parents, my four children resemble one another physically, but they could not be more dissimilar in their personalities; even their humors contrast—with dry witticisms at one end and slapstick hilarity at the other.
We are not just single-dimension creations, either. God composed our total being of many distinct components—like our conscience, our personality, our mental and physical talents, and our emotional disposition. In addition to these commonly perceived aspects of personhood, God created each of us with another, little-known element of our being. Throughout this seminar, we will refer to that part of us as our Ministry Gift-Mix.
Just as there are many personality types or emotional temperaments in the world, so different people have sundry Ministry Gift-Mixes. Our Ministry Gift-Mix was woven into the very fabric of our soul while we were in the womb, and it gives a great deal of definition to how we function in life and in the Kingdom of God. When Paul seeks to explain how God has designed different people differently (in order to serve various functions in life), he uses the analogy of body parts—reminding us that eyes do not act like ears. Just as our bodies have different parts and organs, so too, does the Body of Christ.
Our Ministry Gift-Mix can be thought of as the body-part we are. The Lord designed us to be particularly suited for accomplishing what He wants us to do in the Kingdom of God. Ministry Gift-Mixes are roles people have been distinctly capacitated for living out both within and outside of the church.
Borrowing Paul's analogy, an eye and an ear may both have the job of staying alert; the eye will do that job very differently than the ear will. Our Ministry Gift-Mix is the combination of aptitudes, complexions, burdens and functions that make us apt for being various parts in the Body of Christ.
Spectacular Spices; Fabulous Flavors
My Gift-Mix is not what I do, but part of what I am. It is like a spice or a taste (flavor). Cinnamon does not do a job; instead, its inherent tang affects whatever it touches. Wherever cinnamon goes, whatever it may do, it will always have the qualities and characteristics of cinnamon. So it is with my Gift-Mix. What I am is far more meaningful than what I do, or perhaps more precisely, what I am will flavor everything I may do.
The more we learn about our unique Ministry Gift-Mix (such as being an eye) and how God intends us to function (such as perceiving light rather than sound), the more fulfilled and effective we will be in life. A basic understanding of some of the qualities that set each of the Ministry Gift-Mixes apart from the one other enables us to better appreciate other people and their giftings— and function more effectively ourselves (according to God's design for us).
Ephesians 4:16 takes on a whole new significance when seen in the light of God choosing to accomplish much of His purposes on earth through His special designs for each of us. Paul explains the way things are supposed to work in church:
"the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."
God wants our lives to fit with His way of life; He made us to work best in a certain manner and mode. While most of us focus on living according to His plans for our behavior (i.e. not lying, not being resentful), we often neglect His plans for our Ministry Gift-Mixes. A foot is designed to do more than merely resist the temptation to kick someone; it's purpose is far more meaningful—to support the body in standing, and to carry it throughout the day. Too many believers concentrate mostly on avoiding the allure of doing the wrong things and living the wrong way. Fruitfulness in our spiritual and natural life increases dramatically when we also focus on living effectually; that is, according to how we were designed.
Our Ministry Gift-Mix is so interwoven into the fabric of our soul that we sometimes have difficulty seeing it clearly at work in us. Though it is neither wise nor possible to pigeon-hole ourselves or others into precisely defined Ministry Gift-Mix categories, it is still useful and very illuminating to gain a basic understanding of each of the Ministry Gift-Mixes listed in the New Testament (in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4). We learn that MERCY-SHOWERS aren't exactly like EXHORTERS; GIVERS function otherwise than LEADER/CHAMPIONS; people with a PROPHETIC ministry seem to be oriented a bit differently from those with a TEACHING gift-mix. HELPERS, APOSTLES, EVANGELISTS, ETC. individually add to the incredible variety within the Body of Christ.
Partial Reflections of God
Each of the Ministry Gift-Mixes is an expression of God and His character. He is rich in mercy—hence, the SHOWER OF MERCY. The Lord gives bountifully to us—hence, the ministry of the GIVER; etc. Also, every one of the Ministry Gift-Mixes has qualities that ought to be developing in every one of us, regardless of our spiritual ministry. For instance, we are not all TEACHERS, but all of us are encouraged to teach one another; we don't all have the MINISTRY of the EXHORTER, yet we do exhort one another; not all of us have the MINISTRY of the HELPER, but we are called to serve. Thus, the Ministry Gift-Mixes are spiritual qualities of God's heart and of a mature believer's life.
Additionally, we will see that all the ministries are roles of service. God has not set a privileged class of super-saints in the church who get to do all the neat stuff, while the other ministries do the grunt work. There is no such thing as a non-spiritual ministry! True ministry is an attitude of heart to do for others what they cannot do for themselves. Sometimes the "doing" is prayer; sometimes it is extending mercy or an exhortation; sometimes it involves giving finances or time or scripture; and, sometimes it is providing practical assistance.
While it is enjoyable to learn about the various Gift-Mixes, it can also be a bit puzzling because we see attributes and qualities of more than one ministry that resonate with who we are. Most likely, you and I are combinations of more than one Ministry Gift-Mix. The following brief descriptions of several distinct Ministry Gift-Mixes will demonstrate just how radically unique we are, and how marvelously God has created us.
Can you find yourself and your friends among these Ministry Gift-Mixes?
EXHORTERS—Find it easy to get close to people and their situations—usually by relating a similar personal experience—in order to help them move ahead or break through. Like expert mountain guides, exhorters can point out loose stones and shortcuts. And they make fabulous storytellers.
TEACHERS—See lessons to be taught in almost every situation, and they want everyone to be secured and well grounded in truth. As tireless mentors, teachers take special delight when others gain a new or deeper awareness of truth. Their organized touch brings simplicity and beauty to almost anything.
SERVER-HELPERS—Derive the most satisfaction and fulfillment from being invisible, behind-the-scenes parts of a larger "team effort." Using their know-how, skills, time and talents, server-helpers undergird people and churches, relieving them of their burdens and workloads. They toil with eagerness and almost endless stamina.
MERCY-SHOWERS—See beyond people's sin and move toward their hurt with gracious sensitivity and compassion. Filled with great wisdom and strength, mercy-showers believe the best of others, and want the best for them—regardless of what may have caused their present circumstances. They can reach those who are deep in pain or shame.
APOSTLE-PIONEERS—Lay foundations of truth and understanding upon which others in the church build. As pioneers moving into spiritually uncharted or underdeveloped arenas, apostles rarely function conventionally or according to the status quo. Their trail blazing tendencies and their keen sense of direction inspire followers.
GIVERS—Experience an almost irresistible desire to meet the physical and financial needs of anyone they meet. Compelled by cheerful generosity, givers invest in kingdom enterprises and facilitate others' vision. Having usually suffered several financial reversals, they have little worry about parting with more of their money voluntarily.
EVANGELISTS—Continually "find themselves" in the middle of incredible opportunities to tell people about Jesus, and they do—with an eagerness to explain how people's life situations can be made so much better by the Lord. Not easily discouraged by roadblocks in life or in conversations, evangelists keep pressing ahead as carriers of the "good news."
PROPHETS—Carry messages in their own hearts (like letter pouches) that come from the heart of God about His plans and purposes for people or churches. Wanting to counsel people according to God's revealed word, prophets are focused on one question: "What is God saying right now/" They act as excellent compasses in the woods.
LEADER-CHAMPIONS—Rise up on behalf of people or causes with a combination of strength and initiative in order to establish lasting change for the better. Stepping up in support or defense of those in need, leader-champions assume responsibility for getting things done. They lead by taking care of anything that needs doing.
PASTOR-TEACHERS—Seek out, gather and watch over other people with a strong desire to see each one of them flourish. Wanting to make sure everyone has whatever they need to grow, PASTOR-TEACHERS "go over" the particulars of people's lives like someone counting loose change in their pocket. They lead and feed their sheep.
A. According to His design and purpose (2 Timothy 1:9).
B. When framed in the Womb (Jeremiah 1:5 & Galatians 1:15).
1. We are constituted to fulfill specific, unique aspects of ministry.
2. God does not regret calling and gifting us (Romans 11:29).
C. With supernatural capabilities (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
1. Natural wisdom, ability or family connections count for little.
2. God uses things about which the world knows little to do much.
D. As a gift (doma) given by Christ to build up the body (Ephesians 4:8-16).
1. We are designed to do (and not do) certain things, as particular parts of the body (eye, ear, knee cap, etc.).
2. Everyone does not work most efficiently in the same way (energema).
1. Everyone has a MINISTRY GIFT-MIX.
2. All MINISTRY GIFT-MIXES are seen in Jesus' ministry; all MINISTRY GIFT-MIXES manifest part of God's character.
3. Knowing how we have been constituted will minimize our frustration and maximize our fulfillment and fruitfulness.
By Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D. From www.coastlands.org. Used with permission of the author.
Prepared for the Pneuma Foundation website by Todd H.