What’s the Difference Between a Spiritual Gift and a Talent?

What a great question—and one that caused me to think about things I a) had never really given much thought and b) hadn’t thought about in a long time. But rather than give you a simple cut-and-dried answer to the question, I am going to give you:

  • The definitions of a spiritual gift and a talent
  • Examples of both
  • Scriptures pertaining to both
  • Reasons why it is important to know the difference between the two
  • A list of ways to discern between a talent and a spiritual gift
  • A “call to arms” encouraging you to use them both for the LORD

Are you ready? Then let’s get started…

The definitions of a spiritual gift and a talent

A spiritual gift is a God-given capability (skill, proficiency) to Christians upon receipt of the Holy Spirit into their lives for the purpose of carrying out their function in the body of Christ, which is the Church.

A talent is the inherited and self-developed ability to do something well.

A gift is given at re-birth. A talent is something you are born with and/or worked for.

Examples of talents and gifts

Spiritual gifts: Leadership, prophecy, healing, apostleship, teaching, service, giving, mercy, hospitality, exhortation, evangelism, faith, administration, pastor, intercession/prayer, discernment, encouragement, wisdom, and knowledge of the Word, etc.

Talent: Athleticism, music, art, an eye for photography, a green thumb, public speaking, cooking, fishing, optimism, money management, acting, storytelling, woodworking, and sewing, etc.

Scriptures pertaining to talents and gifts

Spiritual gifts

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
~1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
~1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
~Acts 1:8 ESV

 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…
~Exodus 31:1-3 NIV

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.
~Proverbs 25:14


For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
~Ephesians 2:10 ESV

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
~Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
~Matthew 25:15

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
~1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

Why is it important to know the difference?

In doing some research for this article, I found several opinions and reasons given for why it is important to know the difference between spiritual gifts and talents. But at the end of the day I think the most important reason Christians need to know the difference is for their spiritual health and well-being and for the health and well-being of the Church. Let me explain…

As Christians we tend to go one of two directions when it comes to ministry involvement and service in the Church. One: We sit back and let everyone else do the work because we have a ‘feed me’ mentality or because we don’t know how or where we should minister and serve. Two: We throw ourselves into the work of the Church doing whatever needs to be done, whether we are spiritually gifted for the task or not.

We may be talented in an area, but that doesn’t mean that particular talent is how God wants to manifest his purpose for you in maintaining and growing the Church. We should always use our talents for his glory, but again, they aren’t necessarily the ministry God is calling us to. And if this is the case, then doing these things will leave us feeling burned out and spiritually unfulfilled.

Those who do nothing are simply stagnant and again, left feeling spiritually longing and unfulfilled.

Knowing what your spiritual gifts are will allow you to minister in ways that will best benefit the local church, the Church as a whole, and your own spiritual, emotional, and even physical wellbeing.

Not taking the time to learn and discern between the two will result in you:

  • Failing to live up to your God-given potential
  • Failing to live up to your responsibilities as a Christian
  • Failing to enjoy the deep and intimate connection God wants to have with you through the Holy Spirit

A list of ways to discern between a talent and a spiritual gift

Talents are something you are born with or develop on your own. Spiritual gifts are God-given.

Only Christians have spiritual gifts.

Talents can be used for personal gain and even in worldly (sinful) ways. Spiritual gifts are used only to serve God’s purposes.

Spiritual gifts grow the kingdom of God. Talents simply meet needs.

Spiritual gifts help you discern God’s specific will for your life. Talents, when used right, are an act of worship commanded by God for all Christians.

A “call to arms” encouraging you to use them both for the LORD.

Take another look at the scriptures listed a few paragraphs back. Just as God gave us the gift of salvation with the condition of faithful obedience to him, he gives us spiritual gifts expecting us to use them for their intended purpose… for the growth and health of the Church.

I encourage you to take the time to discover your spiritual gifts. There are tests/quizzes that will help you get the job done: click here or here.

Next make a list of your talents. How do they differ?

NOTE: There will usually be some cross-over. That’s to be expected since God wants us to enjoy using our gifts.

Now pray, asking God to turn the Holy Spirit loose in your heart and mind with the desire and drive to share your gifts in the way(s) God intends you to. Then do it!

~ By Darla Noble

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  1. Reply
    Anisere dele says

    That I may Him

  2. Reply
    Joy chidinma fidelis says

    Thank you very much for this great explanation,you have given me an understanding I have been longing for.God bless you

  3. Reply
    MENTOR says

    Oh this is Good job. God bless

  4. Reply
    tezza t says

    Thank you in Christ Jesus, for such a powerfullllll, tool in helping me maintain my course in faith, holding to the hope and strength that can only be found in Him.
    each day brings new challenges and changes regularly. again, thank you so very much for your help and encouragement. God bless

  5. Reply
    Semujju Richard says

    We thank God, for the gift of teaching set upon you.

  6. Reply
    Olagunju Sijuade says

    This is awesome, it provides answers to many questions I have been trying to answer. God will increase your wisdom.

  7. Reply
    Sunday Awosika says

    Am a Sunday School Teacher, You’ve just given the right answers to my Sunday School students questions. Our good Lord will continue to bless you give you more wisdom and more anointing and may you never lose your reward in Jesus name, Remain blessed.

  8. Reply
    Oyediji Olumide says

    Thank you so much, I’m really blessed

  9. Reply
    Madubuko Daniel says

    Thank you for given me the answer of a qeustions that was asked to me in the school

  10. Reply
    Sandy says

    Hello – thank you for taking the time to put this together. I do have a question regarding the 9 Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirt versus all of the other spiritual gifts. I do know that the 9 Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit are for “service/for others” and are received when the “Spirit comes UPON you”(Acts 1:8). I have read that this is also called Baptism by Fire (Holy Spirit upon you) and Baptism by Water (is the Holy Spirit within you.) Baptism by Water brings about the 9 FRUIT of the Holy Spirit (developing in us, for us). So my question is…the other spiritual gifts that you are mentioned on your site (including a part of the Spiritual Gifts Test), such as Hospitality, Mercy, Administration, etc…these are given at birth? Why are they lumped into the Spiritual Gifts Test, as I thought these were gifts, given by the Holy Spirit as HE WILLS. Just trying to get answers to a few additional questions…thank you again.

  11. Reply
    Winfred Tekpo says

    I want to take part of this

  12. Reply
    Gideon Gyamfi says

    God bless for the good work done. May He gives you more wisdom to such great work for the Kingdom.

  13. Reply
    Ngozi Goodluck says

    Thank you JESUS for saving my soul

  14. Reply
    azeez jimoh says

    thanks this article was really helpful. May the good Lord continue to increase you..

  15. Reply
    Maganda Julius says

    I was blessed for that information may God richly bless you

  16. Reply
    Michelle Lewis says

    I want all God has for me , thank you for explaining the difference between the two, I want to use not just my gift but my talents also, if this is what God expect me to do , to God be there he Glory.

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