Shepherd’s Care: The Call and God

We did not speak last week of the call and humanity because it’s more important than the call and God.  We spoke of it, because we are tempted to skip over the human factor and make our call exclusively “supernatural.”

But make no mistake, God is the Center.  And if we try to put anything, anyone, or anyplace at the Center, our life and ministry will become counterfeit.  At the same time, if we keep secondary things on the circumference (related to and empowered by the Spirit), our ministry will have a 360-degree specificity and comprehensiveness.

But today, we turn to the simple fact that supernatural tasks require supernatural power.  That’s why there’s only one Center and the rest circumference.  No other aspect of our lives is sufficient to sustain ministry for the long-haul.

That’s why God supplies spiritual gifts as the fundamental empowerment of our lives.  Paul wrote of it in 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6.  There is a significant progression in this verse: gifts, ministries, and results.  One gift (for example) can be manifested in a variety of ministries.  And one ministry can have a variety of results.

I think this goes a long way in answering the question, “Is the biblical list of gifts exhaustive or representative?”  I tend to think it’s exhaustive, simply because the Bible does not give us any criteria for knowing the basis for adding anything to the list.  But related to this is the fact that if we look at the multi-layered dimension that Paul is describing, the need to add gifts quickly diminishes, and what we may be thinking of as a potential gift can be placed on either the ministry level or the results level.

In this brief post, the point is that we should work to discern our call in relation to the biblical list of gifts.  There are inventories that can help us do this.  But however we go about doing it, once we have identified the spiritual gifts God has given us, we can then move to the next level, and ask what kind of ministries (services) can come from those gifts.  This kind of discernment will help us find and follow God’s will.


About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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