Each Christian is endowed with a unique gift for ministry. We are to use it to serve one another “as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10). Sadly, we often neglect our gift for various reasons and it becomes a dwindling flame in need of fanning.
This was Timothy’s temptation (cf: 1 Tim. 4:14). Fear got the best of him, and his gift went into disuse. So Paul wrote to him in order to “fan into flame the gift of God”, or, as the King James renders it, “Stir up the gift” (2 Tim. 1:6).
Many of us, like Timothy, let things get in the way of using our gift—and there can be a range of reasons. And, as Christians responsible for each other, we should seek to stir up the gift in others so that the body of Christ will be effective and whole (Eph. 4:11-12).
How can we help someone to stir up their gift or fan it into flame? How can we embolden and encourage others to use their gift and not allow it to lie dormant?
Learning from Paul’s example, I believe we have 10 ways to stir up the gift in others. They are found in 2 Timothy 1:3-7.
- Serve God with them. When you serve others, you provide a model for others who serve. It also gives them inner strength to see that they are not alone and that others are struggling alongside them. Paul said, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors…” So get in the work yourself.
- Thank God for them. All good gifts come from God (Jas. 1:17). So be thankful to God for what He has given others. This will remind you of your co-laborers and their needs as God develops them. And when you thank God, be sure to do it in their hearing. Paul did. “I thank God,” he said.
- Pray for them often. If you are mindful and thanking God, then you are already in the mode of prayer. But remember to pray often. Paul was thankful to God, “as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”
- Remember their hard times. Psalm 11:4 tells us to remember the wondrous works of God’s grace and mercy. Hard times in ministry come from duty and struggle, but they tie us together as people and remind us of God’s goodness. Paul said, “As I remember your tears…”
- Take joy in them. If you are praying often and desiring to see others grow and work in ministry, then you are already stirring up anticipation because your heart is with them. So take joy when you are in their presence. Paul did. “I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.”
- Recognize their faith. In times of struggle, we can be easily tempted to question our salvation. Having our faith affirmed and recognized as genuine can really strengthen us. Paul said, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
- Encourage their ministry. It makes sense for us to verbally encourage others to do the work of ministry and use their gift. Find the right words and share them. Paul said, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.”
- Affirm their giftedness. When urging others to develop and use their gift, be sure to affirm their giftedness. Tell them that you recognize the gift that has been discovered in them. Paul affirmed Timothy’s gift, “which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
- Remind them of their source. Another way to stir up the gift is to remember its source. God gave the gift for ministry. It is not a gift from man, but from God who intends it to be used for His glory. Paul said, “for God gave us…”
- Remind them of their power. Since the gift is from God and for His glory, it is only rightful to believe that it comes with divine power. God would not call us to serve without enabling us to do so. Rather, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
It is my hope that this helps you do the work of ministry by helping others do their part. We need the encouragement and urging of each other in ministry. Look for those in your church body who are not doing their part, and stir up the gift in them.