Dysfunctional Approach to Spiritual Gifts: Overview

A question was posed about the dysfunctional use of spiritual gifts.  I hesitate with this because by definition, spiritual gifts are special divine empowerments.  For me to say that spiritual gifts can be used dysfunctionally feels like an affront to God, like He can make a mistake, like His ways are not perfect, like His power is not sufficient.   When spiritual gifts are truly used, they accomplish what they are supposed to according to His power at work in and through us.  Maybe we should ask if dysfunction is present because spiritual gifts are not really being used.  Or, perhaps the dysfunction is in the person and not in the use of the gift.  Maybe it is our approach to spiritual gifts that is dysfunctional.

Dysfunction Defined:

The Encarta World English Dictionary provides three definitions for the word dysfunctional:

1.  relating badly
2.  not performing as expected
3.  affected by disease or impairment

When something is dysfunctional, then, it is not functioning as it should.  In what ways might our approach to spiritual gifts be dysfunctional?  The next three posts will attempt to answer that question.  (Subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new posts.)

Effects of Dysfunction:

Dysfunction affects interpersonal relationships, performance, and even our health.  The effects spill over onto other people.  So, in the Body of Christ, we will begin to see disunity, ineffectiveness, and a lack of growth because of a dysfunctional approach to spiritual gifts.

The effects of dysfunction are the opposite of God’s desires for the Church.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (Eph. 4:11-15)

Hence, a dysfunctional approach to spiritual gifts does not glorify God.

Dysfunction Broken:

As with any kind of dysfunction, we can change when we apply the following to our situation:


Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (Jn. 8:32)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Cor. 10:5)


For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.  (Titus 2:11-12)


His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  (2 Pet. 1:3)

8 Replies to “Dysfunctional Approach to Spiritual Gifts: Overview”

  1. I do agree with you about the way some people think that they can use God’s gifts any way they see fit. NOT SO! God only gives the per-fit gift to the one He see can use it for what it is design to do. If one can not use it to its purpose then God will not give it to them. To think that they can force the gift to do what they want is taking matters into their own hands. Where does their power come from to control God’s gifts? They had better be very careful as to how they approach these “GIFT OF GOD!”

    • Thanks for commenting. Certainly we need to see the use of spiritual gifts as a stewardship. Following a listing of some of the gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:11 says, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” and 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” As with any kind of stewardship, we will be held accountable for what we do with it.

  2. on spritual gifts it all starts with the holy spirit. without god it will not last or work to perform god’s work. some people think that they can use the gift of god to mislead people for material gain, but truth is that your work will fall just like the wall of jericho if god is not in it. then i believe that god gives his children understanding to see through a phony because god always speaks to me when the vice that’s bringing the message is not from the word of god. if you truly desire to do god’s will you must seek first the kingdom of god and god will truly do the rest. i have been thre and i know that the the only true god will not allow you to fail. god bless you,

    • You commented, “without God it will not last or work to perform God’s work.” How true. Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, we merely go through the motions if God is not in it. Our motivations are wrong. Pride and self-righteousness creep in. When that is the case we seek what’s in it for ourselves rather than seeking to glorify the Lord and be used by Him to build others us. Read through the Gospels and we’ll find lots of warnings for the Pharisees. May God work in our hearts so we avoid these pitfalls as there but for the grace of God any one of us could go.

      • Your concern for reverence for God’s name is appreciated. Many comments come through completely in small letters as people have acquired this habit due to texting and a quest for speed in typing. For most, if not all, who comment on the blog, this is undoubtedly not an intentional disregard.

  3. praise be to god almighty, thank you for lifting my sprit on the the subject of dysfunctionalism. i had to search my own thoughts and through your spritual readings god also spoke to me about my own fears of the blessed gifts he has blessed me with to use to glorify his name. now i’m back on track for the lord, praise be to god, i am so happy right now i feel like shouting i am shouting. you know i know that god answers pray i know it for a fact, i even know that god will speak to you because the sprit has done these things for me. i knew that god loved me even as a child. thanks.

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