Apathy is a common barrier to growth in our spiritual gifts [1]—and it is the one that we have the least motivation to overcome!

We do not choose indifference—we drift towards it. (Heb 2:1) And as we do, it robs us of  our hunger for God and our motivaton to serve Him.

It also robs other people of receiving a life-changing blessing from God through us.

Some signs that apathy may be blocking growth in your gift of prophecy or other spiritual gift are:

  • You believe that you have gone as far as you can go in the development of your gift
  • You are comfortable with where you are, and not motivated to move forward in your ministry
  • You can remember a time when you were excited about your spiritual gift, but you’ve lost the passion
  • There is always a ready—and plausible—excuse as to why you should not step out and use your gift

There is one crucial ingredient that we must have, in order to overcome indifference and push forward in our spiritual gifts.

That ingredient is desire.

This also holds true for all spiritual gifts. This includes prophecy, as well as other revelatory gifts such as discernment, intercession and word of knowledge.

The Apostle Paul said,

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. (1 Cor 14:1)

Here are three kinds of desire that are vital to growth in our gifts:

1. Desire for God

In any relationship, when we love someone, we want to spend time with him or her—and it is the same in our relationship with God.

To crave spiritual gifts without the greatest desire being for God Himself is like marrying someone for his or her money.

In Acts 8, Simon the sorcerer offered money to the apostles so that he could have the same power that they did. Peter rebuked him strongly for the wickedness in his heart.

Our love for God leads us to want to be close to Him, and out of that hunger for intimacy comes the longing also to hear what He is saying—to know His heart and priorities.

And right there is the place where we receive revelation.

Our prophetic ministry will not have depth, impact and anointing unless we foster intimacy with God.

If you feel that you have lost that sharp edge of hunger for God and His Presence, now is the time to return to that place. (Rev 2:4-5)

2. Love for People and Desire to help them.

The Apostle Paul made it clear in his lengthy discussion about spiritual gifts, that love is the vital prerequisite to the use of the gifts. (1 Cor 13)

Jesus said the whole law is summed up by the commands to love God and to love our neighbour. (Luke 10:27-28)

Loving people leads us to desire to help them and build Jesus’ church.

I encourage you to stop and do a check on how you are going in this area.

  • Is your motivation to prophesy, or utilise your gift based on a genuine desire to help people and lead them closer to Jesus?
  • How are you going in your desire to build the church—what about your own church? I’ve learned that my passion for my own local church is often a barometer or how I am going in this area.

Of course, sometimes discouragement or hurt can get in the way of this—and I will discuss that in another post.

3. Desire for the Spiritual Gift Itself

In 1 Cor 14, we are told to ‘Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.’

This desire keeps us moving forward, not only to develop the gift, but also to use it to minister to others.

I have often heard it said that we should desire the Giver, not the gifts (and have sometimes said it myself!) But the Bible clearly says we should desire the gifts.

We should desire the Giver and His gifts.

I am challenged to have the desire that Elisha did, that caused him to pursue Elijah for his mantle. (2 Kings 2)

That mantle was the outward representation of Elijah’s prophetic ministry and office of the prophet.

We have all seen people who have an unhealthy focus on spiritual gifts or prophecy. Being concerned about this is a good sign.

We need to be alert to the wrong kinds of desire. To check our motives, we can ask questions like: [2]

  • Am I comparing myself to someone else and wanting an ability that they have?
  • Am I willing to wait, if this is not the right time to step out?
  • Am I willing to submit this longing for a gift or ministry to leaders in the church—and hold back if they do not see God has called me to this area?
  • Is this about loving people—or feeling fulfilled myself?
  • Does reaching for this gift free me to be more of who God has created me to be?
  • Is it clear—to others and to me—that it is God’s glory and His church that I want to bring attention to and not myself?

Don’t Separate the Gifts and the Giver

We think of a gift in the human sense, that we give a gift that is separate to us.

However, the gifts God gives us are the expression of His Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. We cannot separate the two.

When we cease desiring the gift, we have not only forgotten the value of the gift itself, we have lost sight of the treasure that is the unique expression of the Holy Spirit impacting others through us.

In valuing our spiritual gift, we are valuing the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:7)

When we long for the manifestation of a gift with a God-breathed desire—a desire that is birthed in communion with Him—we are longing for God Himself.

Keys to Reawakening Desire

Some things we can do are:

  • Pray and ask God to stir a hunger up in you, so that you are not satisfied with anything less than God being first in your life
  • Specifically repent of apathy. Invite the Holy Spirit to move and breathe His life into your heart and gift
  • Stir up the desire by reminding yourself of the benefits of the use of your spiritual gift in helping people and bringing them closer to God

Was there an event you can look back on that caused you to stop desiring the gift? We will be looking at this in another post.

Do you have any experiences or questions to share on this topic? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.


[1] Wayne Grudem defines a spiritual gift as ‘any ability that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in any ministry of the church.’ (GRUDEM, W. Systematic Theology. 1994. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity. p1016)
For examples of spiritual gifts see the following scriptures:
1 Cor 12:4-11, Rom 12:6-8

[2] From my e-book, ‘Grow Your Prophetic And Prayer Gifts.’

© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

9 thoughts on “Break Free of Apathy And Release Your Spiritual Gift”

  1. Hi Helen,
    I appreciate your encouraging articles. At the end of the article you asked, “Was there an event you can look back on that caused you to stop desiring the gift?”
    I was working with a ministry and we were moving powerfully in the area of personal prophecies even making recordings of the prophetic word for people so that they could listen to them again later. I left that ministry due to a conflict in vision for ministry. The departure was not smooth. It felt more like a nasty divorce than a seperation of ministries. I felt a lot of rejection and judgement, but also believed that I was obeying and following God. However, around that same time, I read a book by John Bevere called “Thus sayeth the Lord”. In this book he talks about personal prophecies being soulish and that people can sense what someone desires and prophecy what they want to hear. I began to wonder how much of that was going on in the ministry that I was with and even feared that maybe I was doing that and that I wasn’t hearing from God after all. For some time I was afraid to prophecy in any manner and even had doubts that prophecy is for today. I really do want to serve God and I really don’t want to minister in my flesh or soul. I only want to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. But sometimes I am still afraid that I am being decieved. I hear myself thinking, “Maybe it’s not God!” I am beginning to move in my gift again but I am often hindered by that fear. I keep praying for a breakthrough — that God will have His way with me. So that is my story.

    1. Hi Ed, I’m sorry to hear of the situation you have been through, it can be difficult to recover from that one thing alone, and then to have your confidence further knocked as well.
      I pray that you will grow to a new level of confidence in the value of prophecy in general and personal prophecy in particular.

      I love this word from1 Thess 5:19-21: Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good.’
      Yes there is a mixture sometimes just as John Bevere says, that is why prophecy needs to be weighed up, but oh so much is GOOD, may you catch a fresh revelation of this goodness and the power of personal prophecy for encouragement! Why do you think the enemy is attacking you with fear? It is because he has something to guard, he wants to prevent you breaking into your destiny and true prophetic ministry (which is based on grace, not perfection).

      Also, this verse comes to mind for you from Luke 11:11-13, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

      Did you catch this blog post I did recently?: http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2011/08/17/is-personal-prophecy-biblical/

      When I went through a hard time in a group and experienced a wrong approach to prophetic ministry and prayer, it knocked me for a couple of years. But thankfully, I was able to work through it and regain confidence again. Now I’m seeing many people’s lives are encouraged and transformed through prophetic ministry, but it took each small step forward, with His grace. And it is the same for you.
      Let me know if you would like to receive a complimentary copy of my e-book, ‘Prophetic People In A Changing Church,’ I’d love to send it to you 🙂

  2. Hi Helen,
    I did read your article about personal prophecy, and I just read it again. Very helpful, thanks. Also, thank you for the encouraging words and scriptures. I feel stronger at this time. God just brought to my memory something. As we (my wife and I work in ministry together) return to churches where we have ministered in the past, people OFTEN come up to me and ask me if I remember what I prophecied for them. I usually don’t remember. But then they go on to tell me that the word that I gave them is exactly what the Lord is working in there lives now. I know that I don’t have the ability in my flesh to give people words that will help them grow in faith and in their relationship with the Lord. And, I know that the enemy certainly wouldn’t give me such words! So, God must be using me to encourage and strengthen His people and draw them to Him, just as He is using you to encourage and strengthen me. I have often told people that God is not looking for ability He is looking for availability. Now, that word is for me and this day I declare that I am available to God to be used as He wants. Wow, I feel like I just stepped out of a dark shadow into a bright light!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By the way I would like to read your e-book “Prophetic People In A Changing Church”. I would be blessed to receive it.
    Thank you and God bless you or as we say here in Mexico, Dios te bendiga!

    1. Hi again Ed, and YES YES YES! You are bringing encouragement to people and that is exactly the purpose of prophecy that Paul lays out in 1 Cor 14. What a tremendous blessing and you will continue to be so.
      I will send you the book right now, keep an eye out in your inbox (or check the spam filter if it doesn’t immediately appear 🙂 )

  3. Thank you. I have been pastoring for 5 years now and I know the God has so much more for us. Please keep me in your prayers. I just want to help people to become who they are in Christ as I become who He has called me to be. Thank you so much.

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