Dennis Flaugher gave this book to me to give to my wife about a year ago, but I failed to take it out of my truck, so I decided to read it instead.
Bugbee's premise in this book is that God has given each person spiritual gifts, styles, and passions to use in the church. These gifts, styles, and passions are given to use because God has a special and unique plan for each one of us. When we discover what those things are, we can "increase our ability to follow God's will for our lives." (Page 15) Bugbee walks his readers through the process of finding our spiritual gifts and when placed within our styles, and passions, should lead us to what we should be doing in the church.
On one hand, I found myself getting "sucked in" when I was taking the spiritual gift quiz. My gifts were (1) Teaching (2) Encouraging and (3) Shepherding. My personal style was "being with people" and being in the middle of the organizational scale. On further reflection, I think his questions missed the boat because I like to try to organize my schedule, but when it comes to actually getting things done, I tend to be "organized chaos." Finally my ministry passion was "Equipping Ministries", although I found his questions unhelpful in getting me there.
While these things were interesting, I still fail to see how it "actually" helps us go from knowing these things to serving in that one specific way that God designs us for. I see how it can point us toward an area of ministry, which is a very good thing, but falls short of the lofty promise he made in the opening pages.
I also took some exceptions to his theology in several places. For instance, on page 52 he suggests that only Christians have "spiritual gifts" after conversion through God's special grace while non-Christians have talents through God's common grace. He goes on to say that talents and gifts are not the same and can actually be opposites. As a Wesleyan Christian, I see our talents and spiritual gifts being more fluid. I believe God uses our talents to teach us about spiritual gifts. While I agree that our talents are not spiritual gifts until they are used to glorify Christ, I do not see these as being opposite.
The biggest issue I had with Bugbee was that he claims that God has an exact plan for our lives before the foundation of world. Our job is to discover what this is through knowing our gifts etc. This view seems very fatalistic. I would suggest that God's plan and desire for each person is that we glorify God with our lives. I believe there are a variety of ways we can do that. Knowing our spiritual gifts, ministry styles, and passions can lead us in a direction that will bring us greater satisfaction as we serve God. I also believe these things can change over time as we grow in our faith and understanding of God.
Overall, I found this book to be helpful and I would recommend it to persons struggling with how they should serve God. I don't agree with some of Bugbee's theology, but I would not want to throw the baby out with the bath water.