“God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”
– Eugene Peterson, The Message (2 Timothy 1:7)
How often it is that we fail to even recognize and acknowledge our God-given gifts, much less develop and utilize them boldly. I remember when our son, Cecil, was in high school he would audition each spring for the school play. Invariably he would be chosen for a significant part, having a real gift for acting and a strong, clear, distinct voice. On more than one occasion I tried to encourage him to pursue this obvious talent he possessed only to watch him shy away at my suggestion – being a teenager and all.
Fast forward to the present and now being a high school teacher rather than a student, he has rediscovered the gift of that strong, clear distinctive voice and the animated talents he shied away from all those years ago, utilizing them in perhaps even more productive ways than he ever could have before. The classroom is now his theater and his role is “sage on the stage” rather than actor on the stage. Occasionally he shares with us some of the creative activities he does with his students that often draw the attention of his principal and fellow teachers. No longer is he shy with his gifts, but uses them boldly, lovingly and sensibly. Needless to say I’m proud what he’s doing with his gifts.
In his bestselling book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell notes that among highly successful people – from artists, musicians, and athletes to professionals from across the spectrum – the one common characteristic is the time spent developing and perfecting each one’s specific gifts. Ten thousand hours invested seems to be the minimum requirement for extraordinary success, and that includes everyone from the Beatles to renowned pianist, the late Van Cliburn, to hockey players to lawyers and airline pilots. Success in any field requires first of all a recognition and passion for one’s God-given gifts, then a bold commitment to developing those gifts to their highest potential.
“You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world,” according to a famous quote often attributed (mistakenly I’m told) to Nelson Mandela. Absolutely true; for “God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible”