By Joe Rector
On “60 Minutes” the other Sunday, a young boy played jazz piano with the stars of the genre. He amazed even the pros with his abilities to understand the music and to include his own interpretations, something difficult for most seasoned veterans. Last weekend, I traveled with other church members to Marion, VA, to work for Project Crossroads. The skills that my friends possessed amazed me and led to the construction of a large shed that was almost perfectly level and plumb. What I realized is that each of us has talents that wait to be developed.
The first part of the task is to identify exactly what our talents are. My wife Amy is a born problem solver. Our daughter is a creative person whose abilities have served her well in working in the music industry. Our son Dallas is a kind, sincere, and dedicated person whose leadership abilities are evident to all.
Each person has a special talent; no arguments about that can convince me otherwise. The good lord blessed us with those talents; one person might be a good listener while another might be good at fixing things. A quick inventory of self and the things which spark excitement in us leads to identification of the special skills that we have. A passion for something is a sure indication that we need to give it more attention. It is a gift that we’ve been given.
The next step is to take those infant talents and to mold them. That means devoting time to them and building on them with practice and simple hard work. All of us will to some degree have success if we pay attention to the gifts we’ve been given. No, not all of us can be the best in an area. Maybe baseball talents don’t translate into a pro career, but perhaps they lead a person to coaching young players. The ability to play piano might not be good enough to become a professional musician, but it just might be the very thing that a church or assisted living facility needs to reach people. I’d like to say that I’ve become a world-class writer. The truth, to the contrary, is that I’ve been blessed to write for this paper for several years and to publish some books, articles, and other short pieces. One person told me in the beginning that I should forget about ever writing for a paper or anything else. No, I’m not rich or wildly successful, but I love what I do each week.
The next area is the hard part. If a talent is a gift, it is important to share it with others. That means that our jobs are to reach out to others and to help them as we use these talents. Being able to budget well is wonderful for personal finances, but it’s also a talent that can serve to make others’ lives more successful. Perhaps teaching how to budget to a group at church is the way to share. Using the talents that involve construction or plumbing or electricity might best be shared with the many who live in substandard housing. The ability to teach should be used to reach children struggling in school and adults looking for a way to better their lives through education.
Finally, sending up words of thanks for the talents from God should become a daily thing. Yes, we might develop talents, but they were instilled in us by something larger than ourselves. Only after giving thanks can we find joy in those special skills and double their values by sharing them with others. In the end, the world might be a better place simply by your one act. Never fail to use your talents; it’s an important step in fulfilling your destiny.