When You Say Someone is SHAPED for Ministry, What Do You Mean?
S.H.A.P.E. is an acronym I developed years ago to explain the five elements that determine what a person's ministry should be. I believe every believer is uniquely shaped for a particular ministry.
The Bible clearly teaches that God gives every believer certain spiritual gifts to be used in ministry (1 Cor. 12, Rom. 8, Eph. 4). However, I believe spiritual gifts are only one part of the picture. In my opinion, spiritual gifts are often overemphasized to the neglect of other equally important factors. Natural abilities that you were born with also came from God. So do your experiences and inborn personality traits. These factors were also planned by your Creator. Spiritual gifts reveal part of God's will for your ministry, but not all of it.
The Bible uses the term "heart" to represent the center of your motivation, desires, interests, and inclinations. Your heart determines why you say the things you do (Matt. 12:34), why you feel the way you do (Ps. 34:7), and why you act the way you do (Pr. 4:23).
Another word for heart is "passion." There are certain subjects that you feel passionate about and others that you couldn't care less about. Some things turn you on while other things turn you off. That is an expression of your heart. God had a purpose in giving you your inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat reveals a very important key to understanding His intentions for your life. Don't ignore your natural interests. People rarely excel at tasks they don't enjoy doing. High achievers enjoy what they do.
These are the natural talents that you were born with. Some people have a natural ability with words. They came out of the womb talking! Other people have natural athletic abilities. They excel in physical coordination. Exodus 31:3 gives an example of how God gives people "skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts..." in order to accomplish his purposes. In this case, it was artistic ability to be used in building the Tabernacle. It's interesting to me that musical talent is not listed as a "spiritual gift," but it certainly is a natural ability that God uses in worship.
It's obvious that God has not used a cookie cutter to create people. He loves variety----just look around! God made introverts and extroverts. He made people who love routine and those who love variety. He made some people "thinkers" and others "feelers." Some people work best when given an individual assignment while others work better with a team. We need all kinds of personalities to balance the church and give it flavor. Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities. For instance, two people may have the same gift of evangelism, but if one is introverted and the other is extroverted, that gift will be expressed in different ways.
God never wastes an experience. Romans 8:28 reminds us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
At Saddleback, we help people consider five areas of experience that will influence the kind of ministry they are best shaped for:
(1) Educational experiences: What were your favorite subjects in school?
(2) Vocational experiences: What jobs have you enjoyed and achieved results while doing?
(3) Spiritual experiences: What have been the meaningful or decisive times with God in your life?
(4) Ministry experiences: How have you served God in the past?
(5) Painful experiences: What are the problems, hurts, and trials that you've learned from?
Your shape was sovereignly determined by God for his purpose, so you shouldn't resent it or reject it. "What right have you, a human being, to cross-examine God? The pot has no right to say to the potter: 'Why did you make me this shape?' Surely a potter can do what he likes with the clay!" Rom. 9:20 21 (JB) Instead of trying to reshape ourselves to be like someone else, we should celebrate the shape God has given to each of us.
Have you determined your own SHAPE? That's essential for you to know as you minister to your congregation.
This article is used by permission from From Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for those in ministry. www.pastors.com.