Talented by Design

While researching content and style on various blogs, I have noticed several posts challenging readers to master their art. Advice abounds across disciplines calling artists to work and encouraging those with a voice to use it. Each call-to-arms echoes my thoughts as I attempt to convey God’s influence in my life and craft this skill called writing.

We are all hard-wired — purposely designed — with certain skills. We educate and train ourselves to develop numerous proficiencies which make us viable, contributing members to society, but there are some skills that come more naturally than others. Often admired by others, these unique abilities set us apart, differentiate us from our friends, and add color and dimension to the ordinary. Gifts. Strengths. Talents.

These natural inclinations often make themselves known through subtle pricks, nudges, and twinges. If left untapped or purposely stifled, they make us squirm. What talents do you possess? Where does your bent lie? Do you have any strengths sitting dormant or unexplored? Perhaps criticism, the thoughtless comment of another, or the busyness of life has prevented you from focusing on your God-given propensities. Regardless, God has given us the strengths we possess with the intent that we not only use them, but increase them.

Recall the parable of the talents in Matthew 25: 14 − 30. Like the master described in this passage, we serve a God who reaps and gathers. (Vs. 24) This same God  rewards those – 100 fold in this example – who are faithful with what he entrusts to them (vs 21 & 23.) Therefore, it stands to reason that like the servants in this passage, we are expected to develop what we have been given lest the Lord take our talent and give it to the faithful (vs 28.)

Increasing our talents is two-fold: 1) As noted in this example, the faithful servants actively managed the talents they were given. They  invested what was entrusted to them and were able to account for it at the master’s return. 2) Because of their faithful stewardship, the master increased their talent. Not only did the servants benefit from their own effort, but they were also blessed by the master.

In regard to trusting the Lord for the increase, observe an Old Testament mother by the name of Hannah. Hannah introduces us to the beautiful concept of Faith-Promise giving.  The heartbroken wife of Elkannah, Hannah desperately longed for a child but was unable to conceive. One night Hannah “vowed a vow” (1 Sam. 1:11) to give back to the Lord the male child she hoped He would give her. The Lord heard Hannah’s plea and blessed her with a son. Elated Hannah loved and weaned her son Samuel and then faithfully returned him to the Lord by taking him to the temple where he would learn to serve the Lord and grow up to judge the Israelite people.

We serve a God who freely bestows. By trusting in His provision and realizing that all we have has been freely given to us, we can more freely give to others. Money, time, and talents were all given to share, not bury. As God rewarded Hannah for giving what she did not have, as the master rewarded the faithful servants for multiplying the talents left to them, God rewards those who develop what has been entrusted to them. SHARE YOUR GIFTS! Sharpen your skill. Explore those stirrings and gentle nudges.

We live in a world that attempts to give us formulas for success, monetary gain, and happiness. Go to college, seek wealth, follow my plan — none of these are bad in and of themselves unless they cause us to overlook our natural bent, skill, or hard-wiring for the promise of wealth and fame. God designed us with purpose. Our gifts were given so that we might give them away. It is impossible to multiply something by hoarding it. It is impossible to increase without investing, sharing, and taking risk. When God gives us a talent, he intends us to develop it, master it, and share it with others. We are a “pass-through” – a conduit – rather than a self-contained, storage vessel.

Are you developing your talents? Are you sharing them with others? Are you actively investing your time and energy into cultivating the natural abilities God has given you? Are you directing those energies so that they benefit the kingdom? While we are not all called to Christian occupation, as Christians we all have a vocation to further the kingdom and use our talents for God’s glory.

Pursue your gifts. Dream big. Live boldly. Trust God for the increase.