Using Spiritual Gifts in Acts of Service

Q&A with Pam Hackett

By Emily Whartnaby

Pam Hackett is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and pediatric physical therapist who co-owns a local company serving children with special needs. Pam also travels each year to India as a missionary, working with a special school and teaching on spiritual gifts in churches to YWAM missionary trainees.

Jesus redefined greatness when He taught the disciples about serving others. They were arguing about who was the most important disciple or the greatest—even getting their mother involved with a request for one of them to sit at the right hand of God in heaven. To gently reveal their selfishness and pride, Jesus began to explain to them that those who are considered the least here on earth will actually be first in God’s paradigm (Luke 9:46). He also embodied this concept when, as God, He stooped down to wash their feet. 

From this passage, we can clearly glean that Jesus puts a high price tag on acts of service or the spiritual discipline of service; however, it may be difficult to figure out how to serve and love others and give our best “yes.” We know that books like When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett exist, describing how donating money to charity but not giving people guidance on how to handle that money may actually keep people in systemic poverty. Seeking God’s wisdom, then, on how to strategically use our time and energy to serve Him well is vital. 

We do know this: while we are all called to visit the poor and widows, give financially to those in need, and love one another, the latter calling may look very different for us based on our natural and spiritual giftedness. 

In 1 Corinthians 12:28, we are told that there are many roles and gifts within the church body: “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.” 

When we hear some of these gifts described, we can easily recall some people who fill those roles. We know a lot of teachers and those in leadership positions, but can you name anyone at ccdelco that is a prophet, has the gift of healing, speaks in unknown languages, is an apostle, and performs miracles?

To help some of these necessary and not-as-obvious gifts become more normalized and available in our congregation, I’ve interviewed Pam Hackett, who as a physical therapist also gets the opportunity to use her spiritual gift of healing to bring people closer to Jesus on a daily basis. 

Like our Lord, who healed many people and performed miracles while He walked with the apostles, and like the apostles, who also raised people from the dead, healed the sick, and commanded evil spirits to leave, there are ways to walk in these gifts today as we serve those who are hurting in our communities. 

I was curious to see how the gift of healing is used in the everyday environments we exist in: work, school, home, church, restaurants, etc. So I dove in with questions for Pam:

Q: How did you get into your line of work?

I was born with a birth defect, and my grandmother was a physician. I watched her help many people and knew I wanted to go into the medical field as well. I was planning on becoming a doctor but went into physical therapy instead. I currently run a company that supports children with special needs in public schools.

Q: When did you learn about the gift of healing?  

I was having health issues, and we were attending a church that didn’t teach about spiritual gifts, so we didn’t know any theology or doctrine around it. At that point, we were invited to a healing service at another smaller church by a family friend who is a holistic doctor and Christian. I was also questioning my faith after watching many kids die at the hospital where I worked, despite the prayers of their families.

After deciding to attend the service, we witnessed a man get healing prayer from a kind, country pastor. When I listened to this pastor pray, I realized this prayer was different from how I prayed. This was a prayer of authority, as he commanded the sickness to leave in the name of Jesus.  

His voice was firm and gentle, no shouting, and he never pressured the man who needed healing. It was beautiful to witness someone restored to full health, and it increased my faith for my own health issues. This healing also sparked Nick’s and my interest in spiritual gifts and launched our journey to learn more about the Holy Spirit.

Q: What else did you learn?  

We took time to study and find good teachers that taught from the Bible on this subject. During this time, I had a second health crisis that ended in a painful surgery. I saw no physical healing, despite prayer. It was during this period that I learned that healing is not something we control; it is a mystery. God is in control, and He is a good father regardless of the outcome. Even so, I was disappointed and was looking for answers.

For six months, God had me read the story of Elijah in the cave over and over again. Elijah was afraid and disappointed, despite all he had seen God do.  

The Lord ultimately showed me that He wasn’t in the fire, the whirlwind, or the earthquake, or in anything that is trying to kill and destroy. Those things are from the enemy. God was not in my sickness. He was in the still, small voice that was calling me closer to Him.  

My ideas of “if I do the right thing and serve God, or if I’m obedient to God then nothing bad will happen”— all those false beliefs fell away. The trials and illnesses that we go through are part of our earthly existence, and our only option is to run to God and trust that He is always good. So I released it to Him and rested in Him, confident that He cared for me.

During this difficult time, I was questioning God a lot. One night, I heard him say, “Do not ask me ‘why.’ That question is illegal for you because you ask it from a place of judging Me and doubting My goodness.” 

In Luke 22:31, Jesus tells Simon that he will go through a trial but that the Lord would be with him through it. I had to learn that the spiritual gifts are not something we control. The answer for me was in greater intimacy with God and understanding the Holy Spirit as a being who co-labors with us to serve others.

It was during this time that I began to recognize that I could hear from God, or what some communities call “words of knowledge,” which is when you know something that you have no way of knowing in the natural. I don’t hear an audible voice “shout” to me. It’s a still, small voice, almost like a thought, or an image that passes in front of me.

When I teach on words of knowledge, I have someone stand at the opposite side of the room while I whisper. I tell them to keep coming closer until they can hear me. They could only hear my voice when they got very close to me. I believe that’s why God speaks so softly—so we must draw closer to Him through his Word, time in prayer, and by being still and listening for Him to speak.  

Q: Can you share an example of a time when you heard God speak in a normal setting?

Of course! Two experiences come to my mind. 

The first one was at my work, where a woman that I employ came to a staff meeting saying she had lost her engagement ring at home. She couldn’t find it anywhere and was crying. She asked me to ask God where it was, so I bowed my head and asked the Lord to show me. 

I saw a picture of the ring between her couch and side table on the floor, which I shared. This woman was not a Christian at the time, but she ran home and the ring was exactly where God had said it would be. She said she fell to her knees in awe that God was real and cared about her. That opened the door to her wanting to know God. She is now a Christian and happily married.

The other time that comes to mind was a night at ccdelco, when General Boykin came to speak. Because of his need for security, there were several state troopers who came to monitor the event. I felt the Lord call me over to thank them for being there to protect us all. When I was speaking with them, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee, so I asked if anyone had a problem with that part of their body. One of them came forward and said that he did and agreed to let me pray for him. It is always a little scary to ask a stranger if you can pray for them, but I’ve learned that if I don’t step out when He leads me, I won’t get to see His power work through me. I quietly laid hands on his knee and prayed, and the Lord removed all his knee pain. After that a second cop asked me to pray for his knee too! Both men thanked me, and I reminded them that it was Jesus who did the healing. Not me.

The great part is that no one else even knew about it. It was just part of normal life and happened naturally like all our acts of service should occur. In Matthew 6:1, Jesus warns us not to do good deeds to get the attention of others. Of course, at times, like this interview, it is good to share testimonies to increase the faith of others in the church so they can also discover how to walk in the gifts God has given them.

Q: Are there people who do not want to hear what God is speaking to you?  

Not usually. I think that if you always approach things from a place of humility and love, people will be blessed. When I get a word of knowledge, I have confidence that this is God’s timing. He knows the condition and state of that person’s heart. No one has ever been offended because I don’t make it about me. I try to never act out of my own will. I wait for a prompting from Him, and that’s why the usual reaction is people are astonished and thankful. 

When God gives you a word of knowledge, He knows what will happen, and He doesn’t want to upset or embarrass anyone. God’s heart is to heal and restore the whole world. We, as believers, enjoy the privilege of being used by Him to help accomplish that goal. When I hear something, I always pause and ask what He wants to do. How does He want to love this person? Sometimes the answer is to pray for the person on my own and not engage them, and sometimes it is to share what God has put on my heart. I try to keep listening so I can stay obedient to what He is doing in that moment.

Q: Do people look at you as the healer instead of God as the healer?   

It does happen sometimes, so I always make sure that I give God the glory. Even the apostle John who wrote the book of Revelation fell down to worship the angel who was giving him a revelation, and the angel corrected him. When this happens, I like to give the person the analogy of an extension cord. I’m just the extension cord. By myself I have no power, but when I am plugged into the source, which is God, then His power can flow through me. It’s the Holy Spirit working through us; it’s not us. We are His hands and feet.

Q: Can anyone receive these gifts?

Yes! There’s nothing special about me. I’m just a suburban, working mom! Hearing from God is like radio waves. They are floating around us in the air all the time, but you need to tune into them to hear the music. 

Everyone hears differently from God. Some people hear His voice in visions, dreams, a prompting in their spirit, through guidance, or events that make it obvious that God is revealing something to them. And of course, God can speak to us through his Word. He is constantly talking as He lovingly seeks out all of us. We just have to take time to be still and listen and obey. That’s a big challenge when our world is so full of distractions.

As for the gift of healing, Scripture says there are different levels of anointing, but it’s available to everyone. It’s like the parable of the talents. If you are faithful with the little bit of anointing that God has given you, He will trust you with more. We are not in control, God is. I am not responsible if there is healing, and I’m not responsible if there is not a healing. If someone does not get healed, it’s not because of a lack of faith or anything that I or the person did. 

Healing, like all the gifts, is a mystery, and to move in healing you have to accept that fact. My main priority is to make sure that the person feels loved. Even if healing doesn’t occur, I know that they will experience God’s compassion, attention, and love.

Q: Which scriptures support spiritual gifts?

1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 discuss spiritual gifts, what they are, and how they have also been distributed.  

Also, in the flesh, Jesus performed miracles and didn’t turn away anyone who asked for healing.  He always had compassion on them, as we should.  In John 14:12, He also told the apostles that we’d do even greater things than He did on earth through His Spirit within us: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

If you make moving in spiritual gifts about you, it doesn’t advance the kingdom. Jesus said He needed to go to the Father so the Holy Spirit could come and live inside all of us. We are all called to go and spread the good news (the gospel). I’ve found spiritual gifts to be invaluable when it comes to evangelism. Healing is not an end in itself; it opens the door for faith. The gifts help show all people that God is real and that He loves them. Jesus and the apostles used healing to help people see the truth, so shouldn’t we?