Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Engineering APEST Gifts Doesn't Usually Work

The CMA APEST team has learned from experience that the APEST gifts are organically formed, not engineered by mortal humans. We have tried, more than once, to recruit and slot people into assignments based on their perceived gifts. This has rarely worked well for us. Occasionally it did, but rarely.

Simply having strengths that others need does not form a team. Humility and love toward one another are the glue that binds us together as we pursue mission together. Gifts do not bind us together. I would rather have a team that loved each other and was willing to defer and submit to one another, even if we lacked the right gifts, than to have a team with all the right gifts but no unity.

Focusing on your strengths actually divides us because we can easily devalue the strengths of others. We have found that when you focus on your weaknesses you become stronger because you begin to value everyone else's gifts. Let everyone else notice your strength, while you value the strengths of everyone else.

Jesus gives us the gifts; we do not scout for them and recruit them to our team. We do not scout for and hire the gifts. We do not suggest holding a spot open and searching for someone with the gift to plug in. Start with relationships, not gifts. On our CMA team, we were friends first and discovered our gifts later. We have found this makes for a far better approach.

Rather than looking for people with all the right gifts, we suggest you look for the qualities of Christ that the gifts represent and allow them to take root and grow. The difference between this approach and most spiritual gifts discovery systems is that the focus remains on Christ and what He brings to the table, rather than on the attributes of individuals. As Christ works in and through us, we believe the gifts will naturally emerge.

This series of blog posts are from my latest book Primal Fire.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How do I Discover my APEST Gift?, Part 3

Most of the methods available for determining spiritual gifts can easily turn into a self-focused search for personal identity and a special place in the church. Often they begin with the premise that we can simply decide what we want to do and identify gifts based on our personal preferences. Do you see the contradiction in that? Determining how we want to serve based on our own personal preferences? Do slaves typically choose their areas of service? As slaves to Christ, why would expect to choose our own gifts? The gifts are given to each one as the Spirit desires (1 Corinthians 12:11)

Approaching the APEST gifts based on our personal preferences starts us off on the wrong trajectory. And once the rocket has left the launch pad, it is nearly impossible to adjust our course to reach the right target. We must start with a right understanding of the gifts if we hope to see them develop as God intended.

The gifts are not determined by surveys or interviews or personal preferences. They are discovered through hard work, failure, practice, and God’s calling and verification through others. This may not be as simple as taking a test, but in the long run it is far better because it not only reveals our gifting, but develops our gifting as well, which is something a test can never do.

We believe that if you will simply focus on Jesus, love other people and serve them, the gifts will naturally come to the surface, and in time you and others will recognize them. The church is far better off when we just love Jesus and love one another, rather than worrying about how specially gifted we each and all might be.  If we focus on loving Jesus and one another, the gifts will manifest themselves. But as the Corinthians learned, if we pursue the gifts in the absence of love, we leave the most important thing behind. But if we pursue love, the gifts will come naturally.
Of course, we can have both.

This post is adapted from my book Primal Fire