I come from what I would call a “multitalented” family. Everyone in my immediate familial circle is blessed with some serious skills, and I’m not just saying that because I love them. My husband, mom and brother are all gifted artists; my brother is also an extremely talented musician, even having never taken a single lesson, something he gets from both of our parents; my husband is a jack of all trades and a natural entrepreneur; and my dad, well, he’s got the music gift as well as the ability to quickly pick up and be good at whatever he puts his mind to, whether it’s electronics, cooking, or anything else.
Me, I’ve always called myself a one-trick pony: I can write. That’s it. I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, I can’t even draw a mean stick figure. But writing isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am. I believe God has placed stories in my heart to teach His lessons in ways that speak to an audience who would otherwise not be receptive to the messages of Christ. I’ve been writing since I was little and there’s nothing I’m more passionate about.
But any writer will tell you that a lot of the process goes on behind closed doors, inside your own head. Growing up, that was a struggle for me. I remember many times in my youth gathered with friends who cheered on my brother’s piano playing, or the occasions I saw my mom’s hand-calligraphed designs in weddings, meetings, and public venues, and I would feel a deep yearning for a talent more tangible than a dozen unfinished drafts growing dust on a computer drive. I didn’t want the only thing I was good at to be something I couldn’t use to connect with people.
Finally, somewhere in my teen years, I backed off. I stopped writing other than in sporadic bursts because I felt like nothing I wrote really mattered, anyway. But the nudge stayed. I kept wanting to go back to it, which I realize in hindsight was a God-thing. Slowly, I eased into the craft again, resigned that I was just going to become a crazy cat lady with my laptop and my coffee cup forever, hoping to write something marketable.
About the time I decided I was okay with that, one of my friends did a teaching on The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, only he compared the “talents” (money) that the Master left with the servants to talents (giftings) that God has given us. He encouraged the listener to consider how they’re using their God-given talents, whether they’re making a return on them or burying them. I thought this teaching was super cool (lo and behold, I even jotted down an idea for how to convey the concept in a novel. Imagine that), but I didn’t think about applying it to myself.
Funny how that usually happens.
Fast forward almost a year. I’ve been struggling once again lately with doubts about writing. My husband and I were reading the Gospels together one morning, as we do, and happened to read Matthew 25. It honestly felt like I was reading it for the first time. I could literally feel God opening my eyes to the story of the talents, combining my own doubts with the memory of my friend’s teaching and then, last but not least, with the example of my family.
Five talents like my father. Two talents like my husband, mother, and brother. One talent for me. The Master didn’t treat any of those amounts as if they were less important than the other. Whether he gave one servant many or just a single talent, he expected them to make the most of it, to invest, to grow a return. And right then God struck my heart: I was thinking about burying my one talent, devaluing it and making no use of it. How could I expect to be entrusted with more if I squandered what was given?
Maybe you’ve felt the same way at times. Maybe you’ve seen people around you with giftings that you crave and talents you wish you’d developed. And maybe you could develop them with some effort—that’s not a bad thing to do! But speaking from experience, I want to encourage you not to bury your talent, your passion, just because it doesn’t come with the trappings you might desire. God entrusts us with our talents for a reason. He expects us to make a return. It may be a difficult, lonely, painful journey, but to invest in your God-given gift and truly make something of it comes with reward beyond measure.
After all, there’s no one among us, whether with many talents or just one, who doesn’t want to hear at the end: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”