In time, a (spiritual) gift evolves into a ministry. So, regarding hospitality, if they exercise hospitality frequently, they soon have the ministry of hospitality. A ministry may or may not be accompanied by formal recognition from church leadership. But that is not crucial. Why? Because our focus is on service to others. So it is that there is a role, a gift and a ministry. One can lead to the next, and there is no sharp line of distinction between them. Like hospitality, intercessory prayer can be a role, a gift or a ministry. Most of us pray for others as a matter of course, as part of our Christian life. But sometimes there is a supernatural unction, an anointing, that comes upon us to pray for someone in particular. That is the gift of intercessory prayer. A habitual exercise of that gift produces the ministry of intercessory prayer. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
According to Wimber, all spiritual gifts belong to God, and since Jesus, the Son of God, has commissioned his followers to continue the kingdom ministry that he started, all Christians living in every generation until the time of Jesus’ return, have available to them the same array of spiritual gifts we find operating in the first century church. John taught us to stop thinking of spiritual gifts as something the church owns or as tools available only to a few select leaders.
To John, spiritual gifts are gracelets*, readily available to all followers of Jesus, and it’s our job, as maturing Christians, to use these powerful gifts from the Holy Spirit not as toys or badges to impress others, but as kingdom tools of love, designed to bless and encourage as we go.
Over the years, as some of us began approaching spiritual gifts in this way, a problem began to seemingly arise. If Wimber was right about everybody getting to play, where every Christian has full right to utilize all the gifts of the Spirit, why is it then, that some seem to operate in those gifts in stronger anointings than others? That question was a good one, and it still is.
Wimber addressed this issue very wisely and he would often talk about the differences between a role, a gift, and a ministry. As I see it, it was this explanation that helped many better understand the seemingly different levels at which various Christians operate in spiritual gifts. Let’s take healing, for example.
Wimber was emphatic about the fact that he believed Jesus commissions every believer to the ministry of healing. Keep in mind that he believed that healing, as a gift, belonged only to the Holy Spirit and that no one owned or operated that gift except Jesus. So, when Jesus commissions us to his healing ministry, he is actually commissioning all of us to go and love others, praying for the sick along the way. With that commission in mind, our job then is to pray for the sick, and it’s God’s job to release the gifts of healing as we go.
It was John’s personal experience that as he responded in obedience to “go and pray for the sick,” he was playing his role as a believing Christian, responding to the commission Jesus gives us. Over the years as he continued in the “role” of obedient follower of Christ, praying for the sick as commanded by the Master, the gifts of healing would often accompany him as he went. Over time, as he literally prayed for hundreds of people, the “gift” seemed to follow him in increased measure. At that point of his life, many would have looked at him and said that he operated in the “gift” of healing. During some seasons of his life, there was such an increased anointing; some would say he had the “ministry” or “office” of healing. All the while, he never changed his viewpoint on what his “role” was (praying for the sick), but he did realize that God was seemingly stepping up his part as he prayed, releasing the “gifts” of healing, and at times, the “ministry” of healing in response to his obedience.
Thus, Wimber explained, while we might see increased anointing on a person, making us think that person has moved from “role” to “gift” to “ministry,” in truth, it is simply God pouring out more of the gift as the person becomes more comfortable and experienced in using the gift God is giving.
Think of it this way.
Just as we might see a master musician making amazing melodies come out of a grand piano as compared to the beginning piano student clunking on those same keys, so it is with the use of spiritual gifts. Over time, as we practice our role, working faithfully alongside God’s gifts, we learn the fine art of using God’s tools in ways that can look and sound very impressive to others.
But here’s the truth.
Whether it be a master artist sitting at the keyboard or a nine-year old beginner, the grand piano they are playing on still belongs to the concert hall! When it comes to spiritual gifts, they all still belong to God, and we get the joy of learning to play on instruments made in heaven!
Sorry, gotta go. Time for some more piano lessons! Anybody wanna join me?
* (p.s. Since the original writing of this blog, my good friend & publisher Winn Griffin has released his wonderful book, Gracelets. Actually it was Winn who originally assisted John Wimber in assembling the teaching notes used on this important subject of spiritual gifts. Click here for more info!)
Father, thank you for the gifts of the Spirit, which are readily available to all of us. May I faithfully respond to Jesus’ commission and play my role, using the gifts, not for my personal gratification, but for your kingdom purposes. May I grow in my interactive experiences with your gifts, becoming more proficient and appreciative of these wonderful tools of the Spirit. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- So where am I, a novice in my role as one who utilizes the gifts of the Holy Spirit for kingdom purposes?
- Why am I hesitant to sit down at the grand piano? Am I ashamed that my “music” might sound childish? Am I afraid to be seen as a learner?
- What might my life look like if I decided to take a few more lessons in the fine art of spiritual gifts?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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