Spiritual gifts and how to identify a powerful leader?

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This study is in response to a question regarding spiritual gifts and what constitutes someone’s status and power as a minister of Christ, and is it measured by the number of signs and wonders someone does? How do you measure such spirituality? This question was raised by someone struggling to understand spiritual gifts. In their congregation, if someone prays for a person and they fall over, then they are considered a mighty man of God. If people do not fall over when they are prayed for, they are less powerful. There are a whole variety of issues here, and it is essential to look at these aspects biblically.

Let us begin by looking at what the scriptures teach about spiritual gifts. The primary purpose for the Holy Spirit to distribute gifts as He wills is to empower the church for God’s mission work and His Kingdom. Take notice that gifts are given to us, and we must receive them in all humility. These gifts are never to be used to measure a person’s spiritual superiority, power, prestige, or anything that becomes more about the person rather than Christ. Remember that we do not earn these gifts; instead, it is given and must be received with gratitude (1 Corinthians 4:7). No one person should be singled out as a hero or superior since various gifts are spread among the body of Christ, for the building up of the church. Amen!

Next, how can we measure a leader’s spirituality in Christ? The question posed was, in particular, to those falling over when a specific person(s) prayed for a believer. Does this mean they are more powerful? Firstly, you must begin by assessing if such falling down is biblical practice? It is evident in the Bible that there is NO example where a person lays a hand on someone for that person to fall down before God. Some passages are used to back this practice, such as Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel8:17-18, 10:7-9; Matthew 17:6; Acts 9:5, 22:7; Revelation 1:17, etc. Notice there are only a few such examples in the Bible. It is often a result of what God had done, and never a result of someone laying on of hands or touching, and does not compare to the practices that happen in some churches today. 

The next question is, how does this falling produce fruit in a believer’s life? Is it just an experience where someone feels good, or is it an emotional reaction because it is promoted in such worship services, or something else? What fruit is this “falling down” producing in order to glorify Christ? Or is it instead bringing glory to the man through whom this act is done?

Rather than pursuing such experiential acts, we are to seek the practical fruit produced by the work of the Holy Spirit, meditating on the word of God, shinings as a light in the darkness, all for the praise, glory, thanksgiving, and life of holiness and obedience to God (Galatians 5:16-26). Spiritual gifts are for building the church and never promoting one’s supposed spirituality. So how can we measure a leader’s spirituality, or as asked, how powerful he is?

The answer to this question is to examine a leader’s life according to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, our true master and God. Jesus taught in Matthew 20:25-28 that such a leader would be one of servanthood. They are to lead by example, just as Jesus did, coming to serve others rather than to be served by becoming a servant. The powerful servant of God will work tirelessly to equip the saints for the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). He shepherds the sheep of God, leading them to green pastures of the word and building them up into maturity. He would preach the truth and equip them to no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:11-16).

A great and powerful servant of God will:

  • tend the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2)
  • will not be greedy for money (1 Peter 5:2)
  • they will not lord it over others, but they will be examples for others to follow (1 Peter 5:3)
  • they will be humble and not proud (1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 3:34)

Again Titus 1:6-9 says, “if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

These are the signs and qualifications of a mighty man of God. It is the one who builds up the people of God into maturity, teaching and preaching the truth so that they would be servants to build a believer into maturity and their love relationship with Christ. It is all accompanied by the work of the Holy Spirit. 

On the other hand, there is a warning given to us to identify false teachers. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Again, Jesus says in Matthew 24:24, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

In conclusion, as a leader, seek to build up the church through the various spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has gifted you with. Continue to seek higher gifts. As you have received, become a servant leader to pray for, tend, feed, teach, preach, and point people to Christ so that they may mature in their relationship with Jesus producing the sweet fruits of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God. May your prayer be as in John 3:30, saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

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