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Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Downside of Talent

Talent. We all have one or some. We love it when we get to use them. We enjoy the praise that comes when others notice ours. We get frustrated when we don't get to use them.

We wish we had others. We admire those who have different ones than ours. We enjoy watching others use their.

At the end of the day, you and I will be held accountable for how we use them whether we believe that will be by our boss and/or our Maker in heaven. That will come at a review or a termination or a pay raise. Or at that face-to-face meeting we have have with God upon entering his eternal presence in heaven when we says, "Well done, good and faithful servant," or "You wicked and lazy servant!" (Matthew 25:14-30)

I started reflecting on this truth when I recently read an article about Michael Vick's reflection on his time playing football in Atlanta. He looks back with regret on his time in there because he was "complacent, lazy and settled for mediocrity." He relied on his legs - his talents - to get him by and it cost him, that organization and the fans.

Then this morning I read this article about Apolo Ohno and his run at being the most decorated winter Olympic athlete ever. It states how early in his career, Ohno, won on pure talent and sheer speed that at times won him victories, but at other times cost him gold medals. The article goes on to say what got him to the medal stand last night was not just his talent, but his willingness to prepare.

God is using both of these to convict, grow and guide me. I think for most of my vocational life, I have been relying on talent and living off the hype as a can't miss success with students.

Now don't get me wrong, I have worked hard and long hours. But that is very different than preparing in the little (but big) ways to get the "biggest return" on my talent especially when I was pursuing my dream of serving as a youth pastor. You see the downside of talent is I/we end up relying on it at the expense of not preparing well, listening to others, and, ultimately, not walking by faith in the area of work.

I don't know if I'll be back in full-time vocational ministry ever again, but through lots of personal reflection, I acknowledge like Vick, I have dropped the ball with my talent. But I hope live and lead out the second half of my career with the will to prepare and humility to seek God and trust him whether it be in education, ministry, or somewhere else so as to squeeze the most I can out of what He has graciously given me.

So the question I have for you: how have you been affected by the downside of talent? Where have you cut you or other short because you relied solely on talent and not the other "little" things to maximize what God has given you?

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