Ephes. 4:11-16 (ESV)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, [12] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, [13] until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, [14] so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. [15] Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, [16] from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Last week we noted from the opening lines of the Book of Jeremiah, that Jeremiah was wrong to conclude that he could not do what God had called him to do. If God calls us then He will also equip us. It is pride that concludes that since I am not gifted enough I cannot do what God calls me to do.

There is another mistake that people make regarding their gifts. It is the mistake of thinking that the church has nothing to do with how they are used and developed. The purpose of spiritual gifts is to benefit the church (I Corinthians 12:7). God gives people to the church to use their gifts for the good of the fellowship and the bringing in of lost people to know Christ so that they will become a part of the fellowship. And the church leadership and body is to be involved in determining what a person’s gifts are and how they are to be used for the glory of God and the good of the church.

The well known story applies here of the man who told C. H. Spurgeon that God had told him to preach at his church. Spurgeon replied that God had not told him that and the man never preached there. Did Spurgeon quench the Spirit? No. He was exercising his God given duty of guarding the church from a lone ranger who was accountable to no one.

We live in a very individualistic society and the church has been infected by it. Far too many Christians think that the only one involved in the determining and development of service to Christ in the church is the individual. This is just not the case. God calls the pastors and teachers of the church to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. This involves helping to decide what their gifts are and how they are to be used. When this is done properly then the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, has each part working properly and makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).

None of this means that an individual cannot have some input into what a church may be doing wrong or contribute to the development of ministries and vision for the church. It does not mean that he cannot tell a church what he perceives his gifts to be. But a believer simply cannot determine the whole will of God for his life in terms of his involvement in that church and just expect the church to do whatever he believes God has directed him to do.

If God is leading an individual believer into a particular role, them He will tell the leadership of the church. This demands, from the leadership, a close walk with God, a knowledge of the people of the church, a clear vision for the work of the church and what is needed to accomplish the goals associated with that vision. It involves good pastoral care of the sheep so that, in Christlike fashion, the shepherds know their sheep. It involves good teaching regarding the purpose and mission of the church and articulating to the people how the church should go about those things.

Everyone who knows Christ is gifted by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. Individuals and church leaders and the whole fellowship should be involved in working out what those gifts are and how they can best be used in a particular setting.