The Gift That Keeps On Giving (ATP)
1 Timothy 4:14 (NKJV), “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.”
Receiving such gifts with the laying on of hands will we know by the spirit what that gift is? Will we just walk into it? How do we develop that gift?
One of the major purposes of the local church is to develop us to be useful for God’s purpose in our lives. The laying on of hands is one way that this development can occur, but it is only part of the process. We need to remember, too, that Paul is addressing Timothy who was a pastor, and so though the principles do apply, he was referring to his office specifically in the verse you mentioned. Paul was talking about when he laid hands on him when he was ordained to pastor. We see this in other scriptures such as in Acts 6:6, where they were being released into their specific ministry. When someone is sent into something they are called to, it is good to lay hands on them to impart giftings. In these cases, the gifting is the grace to do what they already know they are called to do.
That being said, as I said, the principle can apply to situations like you asked as well. I just wanted to clarify context before I moved on. What’s interesting is that if you read the chapters leading up to chapter 4, Paul had a lot to say about church order and qualifications for pastors and deacons. Let’s look specifically at what he says about the bishop (a bishop is also a pastor).
1 Timothy 3:2-7, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
What I want you to notice is that out of all of the qualifications here to be a bishop, only one had anything to do with ability (able to teach). All of the others had to do with actions and character. This office, and similarly the office of deacon, which he goes on to talk about after this, refer to a developed character. Developed and proven character does not happen over night but over time. Essentially, these character traits are developed in a person as they prove themselves by faithfully serving others in the local church.
I’ll say this again, that giftings are developed in us over time with faithfulness. This applies even to those that may be imparted in us through the laying on of hands. I had hands laid on me many times before I knew what I was called to. As I faithfully served, those seeds were watered and cultivated, before they developed into ministry. The knowledge of it became clearer and clearer as I progressed. We see this all through scripture including with Jesus. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
We start with our gifts that we are born with or that we developed in the world. We serve God by serving man with these, and as we are faithful, God is faithful to add to us the grace we need to go higher. His grace is imparted to us, in part, through the laying on of hands. Faithfulness is the thing which develops those giftings in us. Paul went on to say in 1 Timothy 4:15, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” Any truly developed God-given gift will be apparent to all.
You will want to pay attention to this next part because this is truth that is unequivocal. Many times we may be called upon to do things that we don’t like, don’t prefer, or even have absolutely no skill at, things that seem boring, mundane, and sometimes even utterly useless. This, my friends, is the ultimate proving ground! This is where the rubber meets the road and Christians are often found faithful, or unfortunately not. I have seen this many, many times. Christians will be asked to do something by their pastor and they may do it for a little while, but then some reason comes up why they can no longer fulfill this need. What people don’t realize is that needs in churches don’t just go away because you moved on. People will leave their post and then their pastor has to look for someone else to be faithful. People often wonder where their blessing is and the truth is they left it back when they left that post. How long do we do what we are asked? Until we are no longer needed or we are moved on to do something more because we have been faithful where we were. Just so you know, when you are moved on, it is not because you have decided!
I want to end by saying, you may sense a particular gift in you, you may even know what it is. That’s wonderful! I would urge you however, let God bring it out. Many people have made the mistake of flaunting it or talking about it and all that does is hinder it. If anyone is truly called into something by God, if they are faithful, He will be sure to bring it to the surface. The local church is the dojo of the the Holy Spirit! The first thing I do if someone comes to me because they believe they are called to bigger things, is find a place for them to serve in the church. This place will rarely be what they are called to but it will give them opportunity to be faithful. If they are faithful, they will progress, and in time walk into what God has called them to. I say then, come, be faithful, serve with your whole heart, and watch what God develops in you!