As I mentioned in my post “To equip the saints for the work of ministry,” for the last several posts I’ve been considering the work of the gifted individuals listed by Paul in Ephesians 4:11 in equipping Jesus’ followers for doing the hard work of serving others. Remember, in Ephesians 4:12, Paul wrote that this is one of the reasons that Jesus gave these spiritual gifted people. I’ve already written about some ways that some of those spiritually gifted people can equip the saints for the work of ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers.
So, since I’ve covered apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers, what’s this post about? Well, this post is about everyone else. Now, some people think that all possible spiritual giftings are variations of the ones listed in Ephesians 4:11. And, that might be true. However, there are many, many followers of Jesus who – for various reasons – do not recognize themselves as apostles, prophets, evangelists, or shepherds and teachers.
What about these brothers and sisters in Christ? Can they also prepare their brothers and sisters in Christ to do the hard work of serving others?
Yes, I think so.
But, I don’t think it’s necessary to figure out what spiritual gift you have in order to begin preparing others. Don’t try to find your place. Simple live and serve where you are and in the circumstances you’re in.
What am I talking about?
Do you know of people who have physical needs? Then, as you give to help them, also prepare your brothers and sisters to be givers as well. Do you know people who need to be served? As you serve them, equip other followers of Jesus to serve as well. Do you know people who are discouraged? While you are encouraging them, prepare other saints to serve them as well.
The most obvious scriptural examples of this idea is found in the “one another” passages. It’s not only the teachers who are told to “teach others,” but it’s all believers who are told to “teach one another.” It’s not just the servants who are instructed to “serve others;” all followers of Jesus are exhorted to “serve one another.” The spiritually gifted exhorters are not the only ones who are told to encourage others. Instead, all believers are to “encourage one another.”
Has God given you opportunities to influence others for the kingdom of God? If so, use those opportunities to equip others also. This is possible if the opportunities include giving or prophesying or serving or evangelizing or encouraging or shepherding or helping or teaching… in fact, it’s possible to equip others in many, many different ways.
And, not only is it possible… it’s necessary and important. We need to provide opportunities for God to work through us by his Holy Spirit to equip our brothers and sisters in Christ (and to BE equipped by them) so that we can all build up one another toward unity and maturity and faith in Jesus Christ.