Christians got talent

October 1st, 2014

Based on the success of shows like American Idol, Great Britain started a similar show, Britain’s Got Talent. It became an instant hit thanks to a woman named Susan Boyle. She was in her forties and very plain and old-fashioned. Everyone was amazed when she began to sing; she had a voice like an angel. I got to thinking about a Christian talent contest; perhaps it could be called Christians Got Talent. As I considered the possibility, I wondered what prize could be offered. Since all Christians receive the gift of eternal life, what better prize could there be?

Matthew 25:14-30 is the familiar parable of the talents. Three servants are given money (“talents”) to manage while their master is away on a trip. Each one receives an amount equal to his ability. One is given five talents, another is given two talents, and a third is given one talent. When the master comes home, the two servants who invested their talents present the master with a 100 percent increase. The third servant, the one given the least amount, buried his talent in the ground and returns to his master the same amount he was given. This servant is severely reprimanded and called wicked and lazy. What little he has is taken away and given to another servant.

Often when people tell this story, they focus on the third servant. They talk about not burying our “talent” (money or other gifts) and about the consequences if we do. I prefer to focus on the fact that all of us have talents, and we need to use them to help others and to serve God. The church is always in need of persons who will humbly serve and minister. We hold ministry fairs and ask people to volunteer for all kinds of programs and ministries, but there always seems to be a shortage of needed talent. Some people claim that they do not have any talent and so they don’t volunteer.

Everyone has talents, gifts, and abilities. Even in the parable, the number of talents may be different, but each servant has at least one. God has endowed each of us with talent. Some of us are gifted in the arts. These people paint beautiful pictures or make glorious music with their voices or instruments. Some people can make wondrous things with their hands. Others cook delicious meals or have excellent mechanical skills. Still others can build things and grow things. The list of talents is as endless as our imaginations. It doesn’t take a great deal of creativity to find a way to use these talents in the church and in ministry with and for others. I have known people who offered to change lightbulbs or write notes of encouragement for the elderly and shut-ins.

There are emotional talents as well. Some people are excellent listeners. People often feel a sense of relief just knowing they have been listened to. Some people are gifted advisers and counselors who can look at a situation and offer wisdom that is godly and beneficial. Other people are good at giving hugs, or offering words of encouragement or empathy. All of these talents can be used for the glory of God.

Most people have an occupation or a career where they receive training or gain insight through experience. Many of these skills can be used in ministry. I have known accountants who help the elderly fill out their tax returns, financial advisers who have led classes on money management, and schoolteachers who help with tutoring or teaching English as a second language. With a little creativity, almost any skill can be used to help others and further God’s ministry through the church.

Finally, when we receive Christ, we also receive the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Read Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; and Ephesians 4. Everyone has at least one spiritual gift, and many people have more than one. These gifts cannot be earned or learned, but we can certainly pray for spiritual gifts and open ourselves to their power. I know that I am always praying for the gift of discernment. Spiritual gifts are to be used for the building up of the body of Christ. It is important that we discover and cultivate them together.

Some people are jealous of others’ talents or gifts, but notice in the parable that none of the servants complain about the talents given to the others. The parable tells us that each one is gifted according to ability. We would be wise to recognize that we each are unique and have differing types and levels of talents and gifts to offer for the work of Christ. We can always find someone who can do something better than we can; we can also always find someone who cannot do it as well. Be thankful for the talents you have, and seek to develop them with God’s help.

We cannot use the excuse that we have no talent for serving God. Each of us has talents, gifts, and abilities that can be used to minister to God and others.

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