There are two contexts in which this can happen:
- You may be aware that you have a gift of prophecy, or another spiritual gift. In fact, you may have exercised that gift or ministry in the past, and even seen great results as the Holy Spirit touched people through your ministry.
- You may be newly emerging in your spiritual gift. You are aware that you have a gift and Spirit-given ability—so why is it that others do not see it?
Maybe you can identify with the following questions:
- ‘Why does it seem as though my gift is hidden?’
- ‘Why am I not receiving opportunities to exercise my gift?’
- ‘Why don’t leaders in my church recognise my ministry?’
- ‘Will I ever fulfil the call of God on my life?’
These are questions that I have asked myself at various times in the past. If you can relate to this today, I have some things that I would like to share with you on a personal level.
Blaming Others will Disempower You
It can be very easy to blame others when we are not being given opportunities to exercise our gifts in church life.
We perceive that leaders especially, have the power to release or hold back possibilities for us to minister. It may seem that they are blocking the achievement of God’s call on our lives.
But the reality is that as long as we are blaming others for our lack of ministry fulfilment—whether it is a spouse, pastor, ministry leader or anybody else—we are actually disempowering ourselves and limiting God.
Invariably, we will begin to voice our frustration and resentment, for as Jesus said, ‘Out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak.’ (Luke 6:43-46)
Eventually, discouragement, disappointment and frustration pervade the atmosphere around our lives, creating a cycle of barrenness. But I have good news for you today: you can break free!
Reasons why Your Gifts are not Being Used
Firstly, you need to remember that God is sovereign. No human on the planet can hold back the fulfilment of His call on your life—except you.
You are empowered. You do not need to look to someone else to release your ministry.
So, if your spiritual gift or ministry call seems to be hidden, here are some possible reasons why this might be happening, along with some suggestions to help you move forward: 
1. You are Waiting for Appointment Unnecessarily
Sometimes we wait for an invitation, role or position when Jesus just wants to love people through us.
For example, if you have a gift of prophecy, you can use it at the basic level of encouragement in a small group and everyday life amongst family and friends. Remember, though, that if you have a word that goes beyond simple encouragement, the principles of accountability apply.
If you want to be used in the area of healing, start offering to pray for people—and so on.
The key is to stay within the appropriate context in the use of your gift. 
2. You Need to make your Desires and Dreams Known
Sometimes we think that ministry leaders are aware of our gifts and calling and should open doors for us. They would—if only they knew what was on our hearts.
I can remember one time in particular where I was frustrated because a ministry leader wasn’t giving me an opportunity. When I eventually broached the subject, he asked me why I hadn’t mentioned it, and happily provided a pathway forward for me.
Leaders aren’t mind readers. Sometimes we think that they are supermen and superwomen who should be listening to God about our personal gifts and situations.
They may simply need the opportunity to hear from us firsthand.
3. You are Beginning and Need to Step out.
Sometimes we wait too long for encouragement, when we should be stepping out of the boat ourselves.
Understandably, when you are new in your gift, this can be a bit daunting.
When a seedling emerges from the soil, there is a last push to break through the earth. When a butterfly is emerging from a chrysalis, there is a final wrestling to break free.
This is the kind of motivation that the Apostle Paul talked about when he said, ‘Desire spiritual gifts.’ (1 Cor 14:1) Is your desire strong enough that you will seek tangible ways of moving forward in your gift? 
4. The Delay is about God’s Timing
Wilderness seasons are a Biblical theme—remember Moses, Joseph, David, John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul? 
Some reasons that God ordains a time of hiddenness may include:
- Timing as He brings circumstances and people together
- Strengthening other gifts and skills in your life that will be needed in the long run
- Preparation of our character or gift
If God has ordained a season of waiting, He is faithful and will release you at the right time.
5. You may Benefit by Adjusting Something in Your Ministry Approach.
This is a vital point. Many times I have seen people held back because there is something unsuitable in their approach to using their gifts—and yet they are completely unaware of it.
Here are some checks we should do regularly in relation to our gifts and ministry:
- Am I willing to serve in small ways?
- Am I present at meetings, even when my gift is not being called on?
- Am I honouring my leaders in my conversation and actions?
- Am I being self-centred, i.e. it’s about my gift and my ministry, or others-centred—“What can I do to help you?”
Culture and Style
- Does the style of the way I use my gift fit with the culture of my church?
- What about my language—terminology and expressions?
- Do I use any methods or ‘formulas’ when I minister that my leaders do not use?
- Do I use actions, gestures or manifestations, e.g. when I pray for people, which are not in keeping with the culture of my church?
If a movement we have been brought up in, imparted to, or taught by, is different from that of our church, this is something that we need to especially consider.
We need to be willing to lay these methods aside and align our ministry style with the culture of our church or ministry organisation.
Vision and Values
- Do my values and vision for ministry differ from that of my church?
A friend of mine observed that a church is like a train—led by God and our leadership with a definite destination in mind. We need to decide whether we are willing to get on board and to serve in the direction that our church is going.
So long as we are nurturing our own desires for a different destination or culture of church life, our leaders will perceive this. They need to know we are pulling with them—not against them.
Why not ask?
You may benefit by approaching someone in leadership—perhaps sharing this article with him or her—and reviewing any possible reasons why you seem to be stuck in relation to your gift or ministry.
This will only work if you take an open and humble approach and are willing to listen to suggestions without becoming hurt or offended.
Often leaders do not address situations such as I’ve mentioned above because they know that their observations will not be well received. If you initiate the conversation, and are willing to make adjustments, you may be surprised at the results.
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.
 Another reason our gift or ministry may be hidden is because we are hiding ourselves—due to fear or hurt. We will be covering these topics in the next few weeks.
 Every church has unique protocols for the operation of spiritual gifts. See Prophetic Ministry In Church Life: Why Have Guidelines
 If you believe you have a gift of prophecy emerging, see the following post for ideas:
 Here is a post on the topic of wilderness seasons that you may find helpful:
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church