This series of lessons introduces you to vision, mission, and strategy of Genesis Church. In Experiencing Significance you will discover how you have been uniquely shaped and designed for particular ministries through your spiritual gifting, heart for a particular need, abilities you picked up in life, personality, and experiences good and bad.
We are in a series of messages called The Genesis Experience. These are some things that we believe are significant to your personal growth and ministry along with understanding who Genesis Church is and how Genesis church functions.
To join Genesis Church and become a Partner you need to attend one of our Genesis presentations where you will be introduced to Genesis’ mission strategy, and core values. In the presentation we also introduce what you are about to hear today. We wanted to provide a more detailed explanation to experiencing significance and finding your ministry than what we have time to provide at the presentation. We wanted to get this lesson recorded so we could refer others to it if they have more questions.
Every believer is uniquely designed by God. Your design includes things like your spiritual gifting, your heart and calling to a particular ministry, your abilities, your personality, and your experiences. We will talk about all those today. But what I want you to understand is that you have a ministry and a place and purpose in God’s kingdom. You are no accident.
There are other factors that affect your unique ministry that we will not have time to look at today. Some of those factors include things like:
- Your gender: There are some places and people you can minister to because you are a male or female. However, there are some doors that close because of your gender. Your gender affects your ministry.
- Your age: Again some doors open and some doors close regarding ministry due to your age. There are some things a 15 year old can and cannot do just as there are doors that open and close when you are 60. Your age affects your ministry.
- Your health: What you can and cannot do physically will influence your ministry.
With that said, I want us to focus in on what is known as SHAPE.
- Your SHAPE reveals your purpose. Knowing your SHAPE helps you discover your purpose. Once you understand your SHAPE for ministry you have a good indication regarding what God made you to do.
- Your SHAPE is unique to you. Every believer has a SHAPE. You have been shaped for ministry. There are no exceptions. Regardless of how great your life has been or how difficult it has been you have a purpose. It doesn’t matter if you are the healthiest person in the room or the unhealthiest, you have a SHAPE that God is building into you and wanting to use.
- Your SHAPE allows you to excel. Knowing your SHAPE allows you to do your best. He shaped you for a purpose, and He expects you to make the most of what you have been given. He doesn’t want you to worry about or covet abilities you don’t have. Instead He wants you to focus on talents He has given you to use. You don’t have to worry about doing everything, only what God has assigned you.
With that said, let’s take a look at how God shapes you for ministry so you can discover significance in life.
Spiritual Gifts: What am I gifted to do?
The first aspect of experiencing significance is discovering your spiritual gift. This answers the question, “What am I gifted to do?” A spiritual gift is a spiritual ability given by the Holy Spirit to every believer in order to serve others. Let me give you some observations about spiritual gifts.
First, your spiritual gift is a spiritual ability. 1 Corinthians 12:1 says, “Now about spiritual gifts… I do not want you to be ignorant” (NIV 84). A spiritual gift is a special ability that is spiritual in nature. This is not referring to a physical ability like playing football or cooking. Those are abilities, but they are not a spiritual gift.
Second, you have a spiritual gift. Every believer has a spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians 12:7 makes this clear when it says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us…” (NLT). You have been given a special spiritual ability. Every believer has at least one, but it is up to you to discover, develop, and deploy your spiritual gift. We want to help you discover your gift and begin using it to impact others.
Third, your spiritual gift is for serving others. Your spiritual gift is not just for your personal enjoyment, but for your spiritual employment. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (NLT).
Fourth, your spiritual gift is given to you by the Holy Spirit. We don’t get to decide which gift we get. The Holy Spirit sovereignly decides for us. Notice carefully what 1 Corinthians 12:8 says, “To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” (vs. 8-11, NLT). There are all kinds of spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible. This is one list and there is another list in Romans 12. But, what I want you to see here is that it is the Holy Spirit who decides what gift you get. Whatever gift He gives you, you need in order to accomplish the ministry that God has for you.
Heart: What do I have a desire to do?
The second aspect of experiencing significance deals with your heart. This deals with your passion and desire. This answers the question, “What do I have a desire to do?” What you desire to do for God may be an indication of what God wants you to do in His kingdom. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says.
- Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires” (NLT). This doesn’t mean if you delight yourself in the Lord and you desire a new bass boat that God is going to give it to you. This means that as you delight yourself in the Lord and grow spiritually your desire will begin to change and line up more and more with what God wants you to desire. He will give you the desire He wants you to have.
This explains why you have a desire to get involved in ministry A and not ministry B. God gives you the desires of your heart. He gave you a desire for ministry A.
- Revelation 17:17 says, “God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose” (NIV 84). God places a desire for a certain ministry or a certain people group into your heart because there is something He wants you to do in order to accomplish His purpose in your life and in someone else’s life. If you ever hear someone say, “God has really laid this on my heart, I really feel like I need to do this or that.” This is what that’s talking about. Again, this is why one believer will have a heart for the student ministry and another will have a heart for senior adults who are in a nursery home.
- Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (NLT). God is at work in your life. He is molding you, shaping you, and changing you. Part of that molding process is developing new desires not only for His Word and for His people but in regarding to who and how you serve. There are some desires that He is specifically building into your life. Some of those desire develop over time.
Over time you find yourself more interested in what the Bible says. That’s God developing and giving you a desire for His Word. Over time you find yourself more curious about bigger questions like, “Why am I here?” or “What is my purpose in life?” God is molding in you a desire for more important things in your life. While all this is happening you find yourself caring more about people than you use too, you are more concerned about others than you once were. God is giving and developing the kind of desires He wants you to have. Somewhere along the way, you find you have a higher level of passion and heart for a certain people group. For example…
- Some of you have a heart for children
- While others have a heart for the handicapped
- Some of you have a heart for lost people in general
- While some of you have a heart for lost young adults specifically
You get the idea. As you discover the spiritual gift that God has given to you and you combine that with the desires that God has given to you, you begin to discover why you are here and who your target group is and you begin sensing significance and meaning that you didn’t have before. You are beginning to see that you were shaped and designed for a specific purpose.
Abilities: What am I skilled to do?
The third aspect of experiencing significance is your abilities. This answers the question, “What am I skilled to do?” God has given you certain abilities. These are natural abilities or vocational skills. These are different than spiritual gifts. These abilities would include things like carpentry, typing, writing, sign language, auto mechanics, cooking, computers, etc.
For some of these abilities you went to school and learned how to do certain things. Even though you went to school and practiced and learned or you just picked these abilities up from a friend or relative it was God who ultimately gave you those abilities because He had a plan and a purpose for your life.
Let me show you something in Exodus 31. God is talking to Moses. God is telling Moses that He wants certain things built and made, specifically the Tabernacle and everything that goes with it. So God tells Moses in verse 2, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft! And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamch, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make” (vs. 2-6, NLT). Then God gives Moses a list of items that need to be made. God chose certain people and He gave them certain abilities (learned through others) in order to accomplish certain tasks.
The same is true for you. God has given you certain skills that He wants you to use in His Kingdom work to help build up the church and other people. As you discover your spiritual gifting, heart for ministry, and abilities that God has given you, you begin to more clearly what you are designed to do.
Personality: What ministry am I best suited for?
The fourth aspect of experiencing significance deals with your personality. This answers the question, “What ministry am I best suited for?” Your personality does make a difference. For example, Peter was loud and aggressive. He acted first then thought about it. He didn’t want time to process anything. That can be good and bad. One time Peter stepped out of a boat and walked on water toward Jesus and another time Peter pulled out a sword and cut off a man’s ear out of anger that Jesus then had to heal. You are getting a glimpse of Peter’s personality.
When you study the various characters in the Bible like Noah, Moses, Samson, Nehemiah, John, Luke, Matthew, Peter, and Paul you discover how different they are in their personalities. But God gave each of them their personality because God needed a certain personality to accomplish certain things. This is true for both you and me.
Listen carefully to Psalm 139:13, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it” (vs. 13-14, NLT). This is talking about more than just fingers and toes. It’s talking about everything about you. Your fingers, toes, mind, male or female, and emotions. All that make up your personality.
Let me ask you some questions about your personality.
- Are you extroverted or introverted? Do you prefer to work alone or with people? Do you gain energy by being with people or lose energy?
- Are you a thinker or feeler? Do you make decisions on facts or intuition (your gut feeling)?
- Do like routine or variety? Do you like to be in an environment that is predictable with very few surprises or do you like variety where things can be unexpected and different a lot?
God gave you your personality because that’s what’s needed for the ministry He has planned for you. Pay attention to how you were made. Who you are gives insight to how God wants to use you in his kingdom.
Experiences: What life experiences can I use in ministry?
A fifth aspect of experiencing significance deals with your experiences. This answers the question, “What life experiences can I use in ministry?” One way to determine the ministry God may have for you is to look at your past experiences. God allows you to graduate from the “school of hard knocks” so you can tutor others who are going to the same school. God wants you to be open to ministering to people who are going through what you’ve already been through!
Listen carefully to 2 Corinthians 1:3, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (vs. 3-4, NLT). If you are going through some trouble right now whether you are here today or watching online, God is demonstrating and providing comfort to you in some way in the midst of that trouble. It is there, look for it. Remember it. Because when the smoke clears, the pain has subsided, and you are out of that valley you will turn around and see someone else in the same valley you just came out of. Now it’s your turn to pass on the comfort that you received while you were there.
- What comfort did you receive while going through that divorce? Pass it on.
- What comfort did you receive when you lost your spouse or child? Pass it on.
- What comfort did you receive while lying in that hospital bed? Pass it on.
- What comfort did you receive when you were diagnose with cancer? Pass it on.
- What comfort did you receive when you lost that job? Pass it on.
Your life experiences, good and bad, can be an indication of how God wants to use you and to who God wants to use you.
When you consider your SHAPE for ministry, you have a good indication of how God wants to use you. Your spiritual gifting, heart for a certain people, abilities, personality, and experiences all help you discover your purpose and significance.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece [SHAPE]. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT). God planned to accomplish something and He decided that He needed a special person to do it so He created and made you specially for that purpose.
If you would like to know more about your unique design for ministry there are two Life Groups we would recommend.
- One is called SHAPE led by Chris Creech. It’s one of the online courses.
- Another is called Destiny led by me.
Both of them examine the Biblical concepts that have been mentioned today.
The above lesson is based on a book by Erik Rees, S.H.A.P.E.