“I’m not gifted in that area, so I don’t have to do that.”
“That’s not my ministry, so I’ll leave that for someone else to do.”
“I was called to do something else, so that’s not my responsibility.”
I’ve heard those excuses my whole life, and, for a long time, I bought into it. But, in the last few years, I’ve changed my mind. In fact, I think this kind of specialization harms the church.
The question was raised recently by Miguel at “God Directed Deviations” in his post “Aren’t All Christians Supposed to Make Disciples, Be Witnesses, and Evangelize?”
Miguel offers a couple of quotes: one of which supports that specialization based on giftings while the other does not support this kind of specialization. There is some back and forth (but still a good discussion) in the comments as well.
So, what is the discussion about? Well, according to Scripture, we know that some people are gifted at teaching. Others are gifted at encouraging. Still others are gifted at serving. In fact, we find many different spiritual gifts listed in Scripture, and it’s clear that 1) different people have different gifts, 2) no one has every gift, and 3) those with a certain gift should serve in that way.
The question is, then, who is responsible for teaching? For encouraging? For serving? For giving? For pastoring? For administering? For prophesying?
Are those gifted in those areas responsible for serving in those areas? Of course they are. Peter states that emphatically in 1 Peter 4:10. Paul says something similar in 1 Corinthians 12:7.
But, here’s the thing, given that those gifted are responsible for serving in that particular area, it does not follow logically (or scripturally) that others are not responsible for serving in that particular area. In fact, I think that all followers of Jesus Christ are responsible for teaching, serving, giving, encouraging, prophesying, pastoring, showing mercy, and any other type of service toward others.
Why would I conclude that all believers are responsible for these types of service (even when not gifted in that area)? Well, there are several reasons. For one, the results of any kind of service are not dependent upon the one serving, but upon God working through his Spirit in the life of the person serving. Also, the multitude of “one another” passages which are addressed to all believers (at least, all recipients of that particular letter) moves us away from any kind of specialization.
Thus, I believe that ALL Christians are responsible to “teach one another,” even those who are gifted at teaching. I believe that all followers of Jesus are supposed to “serve one another,” even those who are gifted as servants. All believers should “encourage one another,” even those who have been given the gift of encouragement.
So, what happens when only those gifted in teaching teach? What happens when only those who have the spiritual gift of evangelism do the evangelizing? What happens when only the spiritually gifted pastors serve through shepherding others? What happens is that the church is hindered in its growth and maturity, and we began to rely on certain people instead of relying on the Holy Spirit.
The church truly is a relational organism, and we rely on God’s life and power in each and every one of us, in whichever way he chooses to work at any time.
Yes, it is our responsibility, our calling, and our ministry.