Using PIES to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

On Sunday, March 9th 2015 I preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 entitled “The Spirit & The Gifts,” looking at what spiritual gifts are, who they’re for, how we should use them, and how we can discover which gifts we’ve been given. As part of that message I shared an acronym, PIES, designed to help you discover your spiritual gifts, which I’ve shared below.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but the first thing to do when considering your spiritual is ask God’s Spirit to guide you in the journey of desiring, discovering, and developing your spiritual gifts. We often jump to assessments and surveys, but don’t forget that God has gifts to give you. He wants you to know what they are, so immerse any exploration of spiritual gifts in prayer.

Also, we shouldn’t be overly concerned with labels and definitions. Spiritual gifts inventories and assessments have value. I’ve used them and I recommend them. They have value, but they are not intended to be a box that you place yourself in, only to come out when your specific gift is needed.

PIES: Passions, Interests, Experience, Successes

With all that said, consider using the acronym PIES, which can help you examine how God has wired and gifted you for the encouragement of others. Take four sheets of paper, and put PASSIONS on one, INTERESTS on another, EXPERIENCE on another, and SUCCESSES on the last one. Then fill out each one based on the information below.

Passions: Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When you delight yourself in the Lord, what makes your heart leap for joy? Is there a particular activity,demographic, or need that stirs your heart?

Interests: What have you always wanted to try? What interests you, even if you don’t have experience with or in it?

Experience: Where have you gained significant experience through ups and downs, good and bad? Where have you received specific training and skill?

Successes: What are some of your “wins” in ministry and service? Where do you think you have truly helped people? What kinds of things do you do when people respond with smiles or thank yous?

Take the four sheets of paper, spread them out, and look for general themes that emerge. Once you see a consistent theme or two, compare those with Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and 28, passages that contain lists of spiritual gifts. Is there a biblical name that fits your areas of passions, interest, experience, and success?

Finally, bring what you’ve discovered back into the body of Christ. Have some conversations with your Life Group leaders and members. Be prepared to do some trial and error with ministries in the church that might benefit from you exercising your gift. Look also for informal ways–meaning not in a formal ministry setting–to exercise your gift/s. Don’t be afraid to fail. Begin to see trying out your spiritual gift/s as a normal part of being in the body of Christ.

The best part…

Some of you might wonder, “Why doesn’t God just give us a clear sign of our gifts with a list of assignments?” While that sounds neat, it’s not nearly as good as what God really does. Instead of giving Christians a list and an assignment, he gives us himself. God gives us himself and he journeys through the discovery and development process with us. And in the process we get to know him better, we discover more about who we are, and we get to help make God’s church look, think, and act more like God’s Son.