Encouraging and equipping believers to make disciples, one home at a time

Spiritual Gifts

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV)

Spiritual gifts are individual gifts of grace, manifestations of the Holy Spirit as He indwells the people of God. They are given by God for the purpose of glorifying God by building up the body of Christ (the Church). Here are brief definitions of the spiritual gifts we see in Scripture. It would be very difficult to create an "exhaustive" list, but this list is at least representative and very helpful in discerning how God is equipping His people for ministry.

Click on any gift to jump to that gift (and it's description) in the larger list below:

Learn more about Spiritual Gifts and God's design for the Church of God, indwelled and empowered by the Spirit of God...

Body Building Series: 1 Corinthians 12-14

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The divine enablement to understand what makes an organization function, and the God-given ability to plan and execute procedures that accomplish the goals of ministry.

Traits: Thorough, objective, responsible, organized, goal-oriented, efficient and conscientious

Distinctives: Develops strategies or plans to reach identified goals, assists ministries to become more effective and efficient, creates order out of organizational chaos, manages or coordinates a variety of responsibilities to accomplish a task, and organize people, tasks or events.

Cautions: Needs to be open to adjusting their plans so that they do not stifle a leader’s vision, could use people simply to accomplish goals without being concerned for their growth in the process, and could fail to see God’s purposes being fulfilled in the process of meeting a goal. 

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:28


The divine enablement to start and oversee the development of new churches or ministries.

Traits: Adventurous, entrepreneurial, persevering, adaptable, culturally sensitive, risk-taking and cause-driven.

Distinctives: Pioneers and establishes new ministries or churches, adapts to different surroundings by being culturally sensitive and aware, desires to minister to unreached people in other communities or countries, has responsibilities to oversee ministries or groups of churches, and demonstrates authority and vision for the mission of the church.

Cautions: Should be aware that misusing their authority can quench the spirit of others, needs to be affirmed and sent by the church, and is in danger of being demanding and pessimistic.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11-12 (c.f. Rom 1:5; Acts 13:2-3)


The divine enablement to creatively design and/or construct items to be used for ministry.

Traits: Creative, handy, resourceful, practical, behind-the-scenes, helpful, a designer.

Distinctives: Works with wood, cloth, paints, metal, glass and other raw materials, makes things which increase the effectiveness of others’ ministries, enjoys serving with their hands to meet tangible needs, designs and builds tangible items and resources for ministry use, works with different kinds of tools and is skilled with their hands.

Cautions: Could fail to see that their gift is significant and one that makes a spiritual contribution to the body of Christ, could use people to get things done instead of helping them grow in the process, and should remember that the things they produce are a means to an end and not the end itself.

Scripture: Exodus 35:30-35 (c.f. Ex 31:3-4; 2 Kgs 22:5-6)

Creative Communication

The divine enablement to communicate God’s truth through a variety of art forms.

Traits: Expressive, imaginative, idea-oriented, artistic, creative, unconventional and sensitive.

Distinctives: Uses the arts to communicate God’s truth; develops and uses artistic skills such as drama, writing, art, music, etc.; uses variety and creativity to captivate people and cause them to consider Christ’s message; challenges people’s perspective of God through various forms of the arts; demonstrates fresh ways to express the Lord’s ministry and message.

Cautions: Needs to remember that art is not for art’s sake, but it’s to glorify God and edify others; could find evaluation and constructive criticism difficult to accept; might be uncooperative (because of ego, pride, or individualism) and need to work at being a team player.

Scripture: Psalm 150


The divine enablement to distinguish between truth and error, to discern the spirits, and to differentiate between good and evil, right and wrong.

Traits: Perceptive, insightful, sensitive, intuitive, decisive, challenging and truthful.

Distinctives: Distinguishes truth from error, right from wrong, pure motives from impure. Identifies deception in others with accuracy and appropriateness; determines whether a word attributed to God is authentic; recognizes inconsistencies in a teaching, prophetic message or interpretation; is able to sense the presence of evil.

Cautions: May struggle with how to express their perceptions, feelings or insights; could be harsh when confronting others, instead of speaking the truth in love; needs to make sure to confirm their perceptions before speaking.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:10 (c.f. 1 Cor 14:29; Acts 5:1-4)


The divine enablement to present truth so as to strengthen, comfort or urge to action those who are discouraged or waving in their faith.

Traits: Positive, motivating, challenging, affirming, reassuring, supportive and trustworthy.

Distinctives: Comes alongside of those who are discouraged to strengthen and reassure them; challenges, comforts or confronts others to trust and hope in the promises of God; urges others to action by applying biblical truth; motivates others to grow; emphasizes God’s promises and encourages others to have confidence in His will.

Cautions: Can sometimes be overly optimistic, too simplistic or flattering; should first take time to understand where others are and what they really need; may want to just say “positive” things to others and avoid being confrontational when that’s really what they need.

Scripture: Romans 12:8 (Acts 11:22-24, 15:30-32)


The divine enablement to effectively communicate the gospel to unbelievers so that they respond in faith and move toward discipleship.

Traits: Sincere, candid, respected, influential, spiritual, confident and commitment-oriented.

Distinctives: Communicates the message of Christ with clarity and conviction; seeks out opportunities to talk to unbelievers about spiritual matters; challenges unbelievers to faith and to become fully devoted followers of Christ; adapts their presentation of the gospel to connect with the individual’s needs; seeks opportunities to build relationships with unbelievers; is a “natural” at training others to communicate the gospel effectively.

Cautions: Needs to remember that the Holy Spirit, not guilt, is the motivation in a person’s decision for Christ; should avoid becoming critical of others by remembering that we are all “witnesses", but we are not all “evangelists”; needs to listen carefully, because the same approach is not appropriate for everyone.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-12 (c.f. Acts 8:26-40; Luke 19:1-10)


The divine enablement to act on God’s promises with confidence and an unwavering belief in God’s ability to fulfill His promises.

Traits: Prayerful, optimistic, trusting, assured, positive, inspiring and hopeful.

Distinctives: Believes the promises of God and inspires others to do the same; acts in complete confidence of God’s ability to overcome obstacles and adversity; demonstrates an attitude of trust in God’s will and his promises; advances the cause of Christ because they go forward when others will not; asks God for what is needed and trusts him for his provision.

Cautions: Needs to act on their faith; should remember that those who speak with reason and desire to plan do not necessarily lack faith; should listen to and consider the counsel of wise and spirit-filled believers.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:9 (c.f. Heb 11:1-13; Rom 4:18-21)


The divine enablement to contribute money and resources to the work of God with cheerfulness and liberality. People with this gift do not ask, “How much money do I need to give to God?” but rather “How much money do I need to live on?” with the intent of giving much of the rest away.

Traits: Stewardship-oriented, responsible, resourceful, charitable, disciplined and trusting in God.

Distinctives: Manages their finances and limits their lifestyle in order to give as much of their resources as possible to the work of the Lord; supports the work of ministry with sacrificial gifts to advance the Kingdom of God; meets tangible needs that enable spiritual growth to occur; provides resources, generously and cheerfully, trusting God for His provision; may have a special ability to make money so that they may use it to further God’s work.

Cautions: Needs to esteem their gift, remembering that giving money and resources is a spiritual contribution to the body of Christ; needs to remember the church’s agenda is determined by leaders’ vision and God’s direction, not by the givers’ gifts; needs to guard against greed.

Scripture: Romans 12:8 (c.f. 1 Cor 13:3; Acts 4:32)


The divine enablement to accomplish practical and necessary tasks, in order to free-up, support and meet the needs of others.

Traits: Available, willing, helpful, reliable, loyal, dependable having a “whatever-it-takes”

Distinctives: Serves behind the scenes wherever needed to support the gifts and ministries of others; sees the tangible and practical things to be done and enjoys doing them; senses God’s purpose and pleasure in meeting everyday needs and responsibilities; attaches spiritual value to practical service; enjoys knowing that they are freeing up others to do what God has called them to do as well.

Cautions: Needs to esteem their gift, remembering that doing practical deeds is a spiritual contribution to the body of Christ; finds it difficult to say ‘No’; needs to be responsive to the priorities of leadership instead of setting their own agendas.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:7 (c.f. Rom 16:1-2; Acts 6:1-4, 20:34)


The divine enablement to care for people by providing fellowship, food and shelter.

Traits: Friendly, gracious, inviting, trusting, caring, responsive and warm.

Distinctives: Provides an environment where people feel valued and cared for; meets new people and helps them to feel welcomed; creates a safe and comfortable setting where relationships can develop; seeks ways to connect people together into meaningful relationships.

Cautions: Should avoid viewing their gift as just “entertaining”; needs to remember to ask God who He wants them to befriend and serve; should be careful not to cause stress in their own family when inviting others into his or her home.

Scripture: Luke 10:38; Matt 8:15 (c.f. 1 Pet 4:9-10)


The divine enablement to consistently pray on behalf of and for others, seeing frequent and specific results.

Traits: Caring, sincere, trustworthy, spiritually sensitive, a peacemaker.

Distinctives: Is seen as an advocate for the poor or oppressed; bears others burdens with them; feels compelled to earnestly pray on behalf of someone or some cause; has a daily awareness of the spiritual battles being waged around them, and prays for the results; is convinced God moves in direct response to prayer; prays in response to the leading of the Spirit, whether they understand it or not; exercises authority and power for the protection of others and for equipping them to serve.

Cautions: Should avoid feeling that their gift is not valued by remembering that interceding for others is their ministry and valued as a spiritual contribution to the body of Christ; should avoid using prayer as an escape from or excuse for fulfilling responsibilities; needs to avoid a “holier than thou” attitude that can sometimes be caused by extended times of prayer and spiritual intimacy with God.

Scripture: Colossians 1:9-12, 4:12-13 (c.f. John 17:9-26)


The divine enablement to bring truth to the body through a specific revelation or general Biblical insight.

Traits: Inquisitive, responsive, observant, insightful, reflective, studious and truthful.

Distinctives: Receives truth which enables them to better serve the body; searches the Scriptures for understanding and truth; has unusual insight or understanding that serves the church; organizes information for teaching and practical use; gains knowledge which was not attained by natural observation or means.

Cautions: Needs to be careful of this gift’s leading to pride (needs to avoid being “puffed up” by knowledge); should remember that it’s God’s message, not theirs, when they give a word of knowledge to the church; needs to remember that with the increasing of knowledge comes the increasing of both responsibility and pain.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:8


The divine enablement to cast vision, motivate and direct people to harmoniously accomplish the purposes of God.

Traits: Influential, diligent, trustworthy, persuasive, motivating, visionary, a goal-setter.

Distinctives: Provides direction for God’s people and their ministry; Motivates others to perform to the best of their abilities; presents the “big picture" for others to see; models the values of the ministry; establishes goals and takes responsibility for achieving them.

Cautions: Should realize that their relational credibility takes time to develop and that this credibility is critical for the effectiveness of their leadership; should remember that servant leadership is the Biblical model, the greatest leader being the servant of all; must remember that he or she does not need to be in a leadership “position” to use the gift of leadership.

Scripture: Romans 12:8 (c.f. Heb 13:17; Luke 22:25-26)


The divine enablement to cheerfully and practically help those who are suffering or are in need, demonstrating compassion that is moved to action.

Traits: Empathetic, caring, responsive, kind, compassionate, sensitive, burden-bearing.

Distinctives: Focuses on alleviating the sources of pain or discomfort in suffering people; addresses the needs of the lonely and forgotten; expresses love, grace and dignity to those facing hardship and crisis; serves in difficult or unsightly circumstances and does so with a cheerful heart; concerns themselves with the individual or social issues that oppress people.

Cautions: Needs to be aware that rescuing people from their pain may be hindering God’s work in them; needs to guard against feeling “unappreciated”, since some of the people helped will not show any appreciation; should guard against becoming defensive and angry about the sources of others’ pain.

Scripture: Romans 12:8 (c.f. Mark 10:46-52)


The divine enablement to reveal truth and proclaim it in a timely and relevant manner for understanding, correction, repentance or edification. There may be immediate and/or future implications to the truth revealed.

Traits: Discerning, uncompromising, outspoken, authoritative, convicting, confronting and compelling.

Distinctives: Exposes sin or deception in others for the purpose of reconciliation; speaks a timely word from God which causes conviction, repentance and edification; sees truth that others often fail to see and challenges them to respond; warns of God’s immediate or future judgment if there is no repentance; understands God’s heart and mind through experiences He takes them through.

Cautions: Needs to be aware that listeners may reject the message if not spoken with love and compassion; needs to avoid pride, which can create a demanding or discouraging spirit that hinders the gift; should remember that discernment and Scripture must support and agree with all prophecies.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28; Romans 12:6 (c.f. Eph 4:11-12; 1 Cor 13:2; Joel 2:28)


The divine enablement to nurture, care for and guide people toward on-going spiritual maturity and becoming like Christ.

Traits: Influencing, nurturing, guiding, discipling, protective, supportive and relational.

Distinctives: Takes responsibility to nurture the whole person in their walk with God; provides guidance and oversight to a group of God’s people; their life models what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus; establishes trust and confidence through long-term relationships; leads and protects those in their span of care.

Cautions: Should remember that God judges those who neglect or abuse their oversight responsibilities; needs to be aware that the desire to feed and support others can make it difficult to say “no”; should realize that some of those being nurtured will grow beyond the shepherd’s own ability and need to be freed to do so.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Peter 5:1-4 (c.f. John 10:1-18)


The divine enablement to understand, clearly explain and apply the word of God, causing greater Christ-likeness in the lives of listeners.

Traits: Disciplined, perceptive, teachable, authoritative, practical, analytical and articulate.

Distinctives: Communicates biblical truth that inspires greater obedience to the word; challenges listeners simply and practically with the truths of Scripture; present the whole counsel of God for maximum life change; gives attention to detail and accuracy; prepares through extended times of study and reflection.

Cautions: Should avoid pride that may result from their “superior” biblical knowledge and understanding; could become too detailed when teaching and fail to make life application; should remember that their spirituality is not measured by how much they know.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:7 (c.f. Eph 4:11-12; Acts 18:24-28)


The divine enablement to apply spiritual truth effectively to meet a need in a specific situation.

Traits: Sensible, insightful, practical, wise, fair, experienced, having great common sense.

Distinctives: Focuses on the unseen consequences in determining the next steps to take; receives an understanding of what is necessary to meet the needs of the body; provides divinely-given solutions in the midst of conflict and confusion; can hear the Spirit provide God’s direction in a given situation; applies spiritual truth in specific and practical ways.

Cautions: Could fail to share the wisdom that God has given them; needs to avoid having others develop a dependence upon them, which may weaken their faith in God and ability to stand with Him on their own; needs to be patient with others who do not have this gft, especially avoiding looking down on those who are less wise.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:8 (c.f. James 3:13-18; Jer 9:24)


The Miraculous Spiritual Gifts

To a select few, God gives gifts that can be defined as “miraculous”: healing, tongues, interpretation and miracles (more of a general category). Miraculous gifts were prominent starting at the day of Pentecost when the Church was new and being established. Some refer to them as “sign gifts,” used to validate that God had begun a new work through a new group of people, the Church. These gifts clearly decreased over time, but may still be given by the Spirit as He wills. These gifts are described here, but there is no need to take an assessment or do observational studies concerning them. If you have one of these gifts, then it is likely already very clear that you do.


The divine enablement to be God’s means for restoring people to wholeness, physically and/or emotionally.

Traits: Compassionate, trusting in God, prayerful, filled with faith, humble, responsive and obedient.

Distinctives: Demonstrates the power of God (sometimes in miraculous ways); brings restoration to the sick and diseased; authenticates a message from God through healing; uses healing as an opportunity to communicate a biblical truth and to see God glorified.

Cautions: Needs to remember that it is not always their faith or the faith of the sick that determines a healing, but God, who is sovereign over all things, determines it; needs to realize that God does not promise to heal everyone who asks or is prayed for; should remember that Jesus did not heal everyone who was sick or suffering while He was on earth.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28 (c.f. Acts 3:1-16, 9:33-41)


The divine enablement to make known to the body of Christ the message of one who is speaking in tongues.

Traits: Obedient, responsive, devoted, responsible, discerning, wise and spiritually sensitive.

Distinctives: Responds to a message spoken in tongues by giving an interpretation of the message in a language the general body can understand; seeks to glorify God and demonstrate His power through this miraculous manifestation; edifies the body of Christ by interpreting a timely message from God; understands an unleamed language and communicates messages in that language to the body.

Cautions: Needs to remember that the message being interpreted should reflect the will of God, not of man; should remember that this gift is to provide edification and to build up the church; must use this gift only in conjunction with a word spoken in tongues; should be manifested only in an orderly manner.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:10 (c.f. 1 Cor 14:26)


The divine enablement to authenticate the ministry and message of God through supernatural actions that glorify Him.

Traits: Bold, venturesome, authoritative, convincing, prayerful, responsive, proactive and God-fearing.

Distinctives: Speaks God’s truth and authenticates it by an accompanying miracle; expresses confidence in God’s faithfulness and has the ability to manifest His presence; brings the ministry and the message of Jesus Christ with visible power; claims God to be the source of any performed miracles and glorifies Him only; represents Christ, and through the gift point people to a relationship with Him.

Cautions: Need to remember that miracles are not necessarily caused by faith; should avoid viewing this gift as a personal responsibility, remember that it is God who determines the location and timing of His deeds; needs to guard against the temptation to call on the Lord’s presence and power for selfish reasons; must realize that the power to perform miracles comes from God alone, not from self.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:28 (c.f. Acts 5:12)


The divine enablement to speak, worship and/or pray in a language unknown to the speaker.

Traits: Sensitive, prayerful, responsive, trusting, devoted, spontaneous and receptive.

Distinctives: Expresses with an interpretation a word by the Spirit which edifies the body; communicates a message given by God for the church; speaks in a language they have never learned and do not understand; worships the Lord with unknown words too deep for the mind to comprehend; experiences an intimacy with God which inspires them to serve and edify others.

Cautions: Should remain silent in the church if there is no interpreter; should avoid expecting others to manifest this gift, which may cause inauthenticity of the Spirit; should remember that all the gifts, including this one, are to edify others.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 (c.f. Acts 2:1-13, 10:45)

NOTE: We do not believe that the gift of tongues is something every believer must experience in order to be filled with the Spirit. Most New Testament examples show tongues as a real but unknown language for the speaker, but known to those listening. Such was the case at the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1-13).