Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Word to People Like Me: Passions and Talents

Concerning Passion and Talent…

First, I would like to say that God wants to use you, but He also wants to do so in His timing. This can be discouraging to many of us. Perhaps you are wresting with your purpose or you have a child that is struggling to find a place in this world. My advice, do not be discouraged by the wait. Second, once we do finally find our calling, we can become consumed by it. It becomes all we care about. Be on guard for hubris. Each person’s gifts are important, but they are not the be-all and end-all of God’s work and beauty in the world.

Part One: Take Heart.

When I was a child, I struggled with finding my gifting. I struggled in sports, I struggled in academia, I struggled in playing the piano and other instruments, and the list could go on. Compared to most of my peers, I proved to be a fairly good cartoonist (more of a doodler actually), but there were no competitions for me to practice for or to prove to myself that I had what it took to be ranked high with other cartoonists. No affirmation whatsoever…

I received no trophies or accolades, and my artistic passion never matured to painting or the like. Doodling is where it started, and doodling is where it ended (so far). I simply could not find an outlet for this talent where people would encourage and challenge me, and I was frustrated with myself, my direction, and with my God. I did not excel at cartooning or anything else for a long time, because I convinced myself I had nothing to which I could excel. For many years, I became apathetic.


It might be quite a surprise to some of the men and women who taught me in my early years of education; however, I did eventually find myself passionate about learning. I did not have the raw talent to retain information like some of my peers. I never received an impressive SAT score, and my academic career never got much above average. I have never joined a collegiate or graduate honors program, and some of the papers that I have been most passionate about writing received lackluster marks. Even so, I gained a deep appreciation for knowledge and a desire to share my passion for knowledge as a teacher. Perhaps, I thought, this could be my calling.

It took a longer time for me to find a talent hidden within my being than some of my friends, and discovery of talent is only the beginning. Mastering a talent takes time. My passion soon found an area of interest to work with, theology. However, I look back with horror at some of my early attempts to teach. After fulfilling an invitation to speak at my home church in my college years, I asked my father to evaluate my work. He was kind, but suggested that I did not convey my thoughts very well. It was devastating to learn that I was not as great at this talent as I thought I might be. I had to learn a lesson that many talented people learn as children: Talent still needs to be made useful through practice.

I kept it up, but I have not even spent a decade in practice. So, I am still a somewhat rough work in progress. Even so, at the core of who God has created me to be lies a passion for teaching. God has identified His self in me as a God who is concerned with proper knowledge. He is walking with me down a path of wonderful discovery, as He is honing the rough edge of this gift into a fine edge. He has given me people who believe in me and challenge me to continue in my art. Over the past few years, I have been able to use my talent to great affect, and my confidence in this calling has risen to great heights. I praise God for His continual work in my life as He uses me to bless others.

So, if you are struggling, keep at it. Perseverance is key to God’s work. He has to shape us, and the molding of our being into His intended image is often painful. However, the more He works, the more time He takes, the more we allow Him to shape us in His mighty Hand, the more impact we will be able to have for His purposes. Thank Him for being so called that He would only reveal His gift to you after long wait. Jesus prepared thirty years for a three-year ministry. Take heart!


Part Two coming soon...