We can discern God’s calling when three factors come together for us: Affinity (What human needs do I ‘vibrate’ to? What interests me? What are my passions?); Ability (What am I good at? What do people say I am effective in?); and Opportunity (What doors for service are open? What needs to be done?). When all three factors come together, you can see God has equipped and called you to do something or to move in a certain direction.
This process can be applied to finding a job and making major life decisions, but how do we apply it to service in the church? I propose that in the church you start with the third aspect — Opportunity. In other words, find the jobs in the church that need to be done and then do them. Just serve. Don’t ask too much about whether it fulfills you.
Why? First, the only way you will ever really come to know the kind of ministry that you are best at is if you do a lot of different things; then you will know what God blesses. Don’t look first at your proven abilities — at your day job or natural talents — to determine what you do in the church, because as mentioned earlier, God may not use that. Likewise, don’t look first at your deepest affinities — the things that excite and interest you. If you gravitate too quickly to those areas, you may miss latent gifts that you aren’t aware you have. Just serve — plug the gaps in the church and help out. Go through the door of opportunity in the church, doing what needs to be done, and then as time goes on you can check your affinities and abilities and begin to specialize. If you are in a church with many opportunities, you may be able to specialize earlier on in the process.
– Tim Keller
*Quote taken from the Redeemer City to City article, “Discerning and Exercising Spiritual Gifts”