By Stephen Phinney   
The Word says that we are the very Body of Christ.  We also are to understand that we are all individual parts who make up this Body (Romans 12:4).  Christ is the head over the Body, just as our head is in charge of our body.  Our body does what the head decides to do – that is why our mind needs daily renewal.  Our thoughts need to be yielded to the Holy Spirit.
Let’s take a look at Romans 12:4-8: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.”
Picture the Body of Christ as a toolbox and the tools within the toolbox as the members of the Body of Christ.  God is the Owner of the “Fix and Repair Shop,” Jesus is the manager, and the Holy Spirit is the mechanic.  Individual members of the Body of Christ are the tools the Holy Spirit uses.  The Owner determines the project and all those who work for the Owner use all of their very being to carry out the commands and desires of the One who owns all things.
I would think it would be critical for the Holy Spirit to know everything there is to know about the tools within the toolbox.  The Holy Spirit does know the design and function of each tool in order to carry out the will of the Owner (Heavenly Father).  Therefore, it now becomes quite important for the tools to be who they are and not attempt to be anything other than themselves.
Imagine one or more of the tools trying to be another tool instead of being who they are, i.e. a screwdriver tries to do the job of a pair of pliers.  Sounds silly, huh?  Not really!  This is exactly what the Body of Christ has the tendency to do; tools trying to be like the tools they admire.  Tools want to be like tools that seem to have greater importance and rewards.  Tools want to be in the hands of the mechanic more than not.  If I were a tool, I certainly would want to be in the hands of the mechanic as much as possible.  In fact, it would be fun to be the mechanic’s favorite tool!
Also, imagine these tools having legs, arms, mouths, and minds of their own.  Now we have some potential problems.  When the mechanic reaches into the toolbox to get the right tool to do the Owner’s will, one or more of these tools is running around the shop doing its own thing, making it challenging to get anything done.  What is the mechanic to do?  Well, He will use the tools that are willing and waiting, for the waiting tools are secure in their design.  They will wait on the mechanic as long as it takes to do the part of the job they were designed to do.
Think of the work the mechanic could get done if every tool accepted who he was, understood his purpose, and was willing and ready to be used by the mechanic.  Wow!  We could have the world “fixed” in no time.
I certainly hope you are seeing the parallel.  God has many members to His Son’s Body.  Within each of these members, God has carefully and methodically placed His gifts to accomplish the work assigned to His Son and the Holy Spirit.  Having each member exercise his gifting when the Holy Spirit calls upon him would pull the Body of Christ together, unifying the Church in such a way that the world, the flesh, and the devil would be in serious trouble. 
Don’t get me wrong; God is in control and He is accomplishing all of what needs to be done, fully knowing He doesn’t have full cooperation with His Son’s own Body.  However, God certainly is calling us to join Him where He is at work.  The Body members joining Him where He is at work will add to the proving of the will of the Father to the world, all of flesh, and even to the enemy, Satan.

The Lord has not given everyone a gift(s), only those who have accepted the Lord into their lives.  Once a person has accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit delivers the gift, so to speak.  1 Peter 4:10 tells us: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  The Holy Spirit also gives a manifestation.  Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:7: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  It is for the good of building up the Body of Christ.
The Church’s growth is dependent upon God causing the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6).  However, the Lord is also clear that we are to plant and water.  The planting and watering is done through the very gifting He has placed within each Body member.
Once a person gains an understanding regarding his gifting, he needs to have a ministry of “a calling” to have the gift to function within.  When a person functions in a gift that is not his, he ends up laboring to do the work.  He seems to “run out of energy” in doing good.  If a person is using his gift but it is being used within the wrong “calling,” it usually causes more work for the people he is working alongside.  He ends up giving the appearance of “doing his own thing.”  Therefore, understanding the calling can be equally as important as understanding the gifting.
There is a general calling and a specific calling.  General calling is the Body of Christ, as a whole – being called to serve one another.  Specific calling is like an occupation or a job.  Specific calling determines a particular way or a particular setting in which the person uses his gift, i.e. Sunday school teacher, worship team, clean up duty, secretarial work, or preaching from the pulpit.
IMPORTANT POINT: God does not give a gift without giving a calling.  If the person does not have a calling with the gifting, the person will spend the gifting on himself/herself, which is self-abasement.  More like self in the basement!
A spiritual gift is a God given ability planted within our soul by the Holy Spirit, given upon the day of our Salvation.  Every member of the Body of Christ receives at least one.
The Greek word used for spiritual gift ischarisma,” which means “grace.”  Each member of the Body is given a special measure of grace – unmerited favor (Ephesians 4:7).  In this unmerited favor, God moves through this measurement to accomplish His will.
Grace means God does the work and law means man does the work for God.  When grace is motivating us, we know that God is doing the work through us.  When the law motivates us, we can be certain that it is self who is doing the work, which means we are using our gifting to do what we want.   Understand this: grace and gifting have the same meaning.  God is the One using the gifts.
In conclusion: spiritual gifts are supernatural or God breathed abilities to empower believers to do His work for the common good of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7).
The time God moves the most significantly is when the Body is gathered together.  When two or more gather together in His name, He will be there ready to move within the Body.  It could happen in a one-on-one discipleship setting or in a group dynamic.  The fact that we are looking to a God who is alive and ready to reveal Himself to us, puts us in a position of expecting God to do a work.
First, we need to come empty-handed.  If you have any thing(s) you need to hand over to the Lord (acts of rebellion), now is the time to drop those before the feet of Jesus.  God, most likely, will not fully use us if we are struggling with present acts of rebellion.  If we do decide to use our gifting with rebellion in our hearts, the gifting will promote self, mixed with flesh.  That spells PROBLEMS.  We certainly will end up hurting someone and/or ourselves.
Secondly, when we gather, come to listen.  Watch your leader!  God moves through leaders.  Be listening inside for the Lord’s prompting and be watching in the group as to what might be going on in the lives of the people.  God will often prompt one Body member to help another member to use his gifting.  For example: “I am noticing, Jim, that you might have something to say; would you like to share with the group?  Are you receiving a Word from the Lord?”
Be watching for pain.  The eyes never lie.  Constantly be on the alert for people’s facial responses.  Many times, newcomers do not feel comfortable sharing unless they are prompted to do so.
Thirdly, it is important to be transparent when coming together.  We need to be willing to share our life openly with everyone in the gathering.  Transparency is what communicates trust.  If we are willing to be open and transparent, then the person(s) God wants to minister to will be more apt to receive the help God has for them.
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.