Use Your Talent
By DANNY MINTON
I never played much basketball in school. I believe I played in Junior High but spent most of the time on the bench. In sixth grade, two players didn’t make the team. I was one. You might think it’s because I was only about five feet tall back then, but you’d be wrong. I didn’t play because I wasn’t any good. That, my friends, presents the facts. In other sports, I excelled a little more. I played second base in Little League, making it to the All-Stars at that position. I ran the high hurdles in track even though I maxed out at five foot seven inches. I even won the freshman district race. The following year everyone grew a few inches but me. I’m a mediocre golfer, but my favorite sport was football. I was a decent player, not great, but I could hold my own. However, I was never any good at basketball.
As life continued, I discovered many other things at which I’m good or decent and at the same time things that I’m either mediocre with or not good at all. I can pick out a tune by ear on the piano, but I can’t play it or any other instrument like so many of my friends. I’m a decent speaker, but nowhere in the ballpark with men like Billy Graham or a lot of the men who fill the pulpits today. In my mind, I’m a good writer but have never written a book like a friend of mine. I guess I haven’t convinced myself people would pay for something I wrote. I’m a good cook but nowhere near as good as a professional chef. I can’t sing a solo, but I sound good alone in my car with the radio turned up or in the shower.
I’m not good at investing, so I leave that up to the people who know. I could keep going because there are so many things that I can’t do well or not at all. One thing that I have learned as I have matured is not to dwell on the things that I can’t do or those things I’m not very good at doing. Everyone has talents that we’re good at and those we don’t have the knack for doing. Some of these we work at trying to be better, but often the talents most essential to us are those that come naturally. The world we live in needs people of all skills and abilities. No matter what our talent, we need to do it the best we can.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church concerning the importance of spiritual gifts, possibly due to confusion over the significance of the different gifts. It was causing some diversity in the church, so he tells them: “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 (NIV2011)
No matter what your gift may be, use it for the Lord. Find a way to put your talent into action and accomplish things with the tools which God has blessed you. If you can teach yourself another skill, fine, but don’t ignore that talent with which you are naturally gifted. Quit comparing what you can do with others. I guarantee you that there are things you can do that make them a little jealous of your abilities.
Every person is valuable in God’s eyes. Everyone, no matter who they might be, has something that they can be good at doing. I remember the simple poem by Douglas Malloch, which we have all probably heard. It’s simple, but the message is powerful. It’s entitled, “Be the Best of Whatever You Are.”
If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley — but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can’t be a muskie, then just be a bass —
But the liveliest bass in the lake!
We can’t all be captains; we’ve got to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here,
There’s big work to do, and there’s lesser to do,
And the task you must do is near.
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail —
Be the best of whatever you are!
You and your talent and ability are just as important as anyone else. Use it to the fullest, especially in service to God and others. The main thing is to use it to the best of your ability. Oh, I almost forgot. If your talent is baking, I like cherry pie.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ