Strengths, talents, and abilities. These are the internal resources that are essential to identify in those who struggle with addiction, low self-esteem, depression, and many other problems that cause impairment in day-to-day functioning.
Our Lord places in each of us gifts – talents, if you will. I remember taking one of those Christian surveys to determine my gifts so as to find my niche for serving the church. Organizational skills, faith, people skills were some of these identified gifts and abilities. Even choosing a career was easy because I was drawn to a field where my strengths were needed.
For some people, however, knowing one’s talents or having the confidence to use those talents may be difficult. Many times life events have interrupted the development of these gifts from God – childhood trauma, extreme loss, disabling conditions, mental health disorders, etc. And some of us are simply unaware that what we have been given is something to use for God. Take Esther, for instance. She was “lovely and beautiful.” Those two words combined means she was in today’s world, ‘a perfect 10; model quality.’ Yet, growing up with her uncle Mordecai, both of her parents deceased; I can imagine that her beauty was not always appreciated. Girls can be jealous and vicious to the prettiest girl in the room. Who would have thought, however, that Esther would win the first beauty pageant in the Old Testament and become queen of a kingdom? Yet, at some point, Esther realized that she needed to hone her talent, gift of beauty and prepare for the big event. Until then, did she know her beauty would be used by God to position her to save the Jewish nation?
Sometimes I struggle with motivation or desire to use the abilities gifted by God. What happens when we tire of the ongoing work it takes to stay sharp, to keep producing excellent work, or to give so much of our time and energy to what God has called us to do? The parable of the talents in Matthew describes how God views our disregard for His giftings. Those who have much and use what they have been given for God’s glory are given more; those who have little but hide their ‘talent’ (the money to invest in this case) will lose even the little they were given. This isn’t about rich versus poor. This parable is to remind us that we are charged by God to be about doing His business. He will be pleased with our attempts to use the talents and abilities He has placed in us.
In the end, we all want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” Whether we dig ditches (think of Isaac’s talent for finding water and digging wells!), are persuasive orators (think of Paul’s eloquence in talking with kings and leaders), are skilled laborers, artists, counselors, stay at home moms/dads, and every other purposeful place of service, do all in the great name of our God. Let Jesus Christ be our model of sacrificial service, perfect obedience, and joyful giving to others what He enjoyed with His Father, and we, too, will find joy in honing and using our gifts for His glory!