Are you using your God-given talents?
We all have so many God-given talents and abilities. The question is: What are we doing with them?
In this week’s episode I talk about Jesus’s parable of the talents and how it relates to us using what we’ve been given.
How much is a talent?
Jesus tells of three servants who were given one, two, and five talents respectively. According to some Bible scholars a talent was approximately 20 years of wages for a laborer.
Let’s do some math. At $15/hour x 40 hours = $600. Take that for 50 weeks and you get $30,000 for the year. Twenty years would give you $600,000. Not bad for a lump sum of money to land in your pocket. And it was probably paid in gold, or maybe silver.
If your boss gave you $600,000 dollars and told you to do something productive with it, what would you do? And that’s just one talent. Two talents, by the same calculation would be $1,200,000. Five talents would be $3,000,000.
The two servants who received five and two talents used the money wisely and doubled it in business ventures. The third servant buried the money in the ground and didn’t event loan it to lenders to draw interest. Remember, one talent was plenty of money to do something with. It could have been used wisely.
Use your talents wisely
Each servant was given according to how well he had proved his abilities. The lesson here is not how much you’re given, but how well you use what you’re given. Originally a unit of measure of weight and money, the word has come to represent our gifts and abilities.
What has God given you? What are you passionate about doing? These are your gifts or talents from God. How do you use them?
My high school speech teacher, Marti Kirk, was able to see and bring out in her students, talents and abilities we didn’t know we had. The first time I gave a speech in her class, my knees were knocking together, I was so afraid.
But Mrs. Kirk coached me and helped me discover my natural abilities. I went on to compete at speech tournaments and win some prizes in the process.
Mrs. Kirk always said,
“Every talent you have is a gift from God. What you do with that talent is your gift back to Him.”
I will never forget how she helped me put this maxim into practice.
How do you use your God-given talents?
Are there ever times when you aren’t using the abilities God has given you? Yeah, me too!
But fortunately, there is always another opportunity, sometimes moments later.
What talents has God given you? Today is a good day to take an honest inventory of all the abilities God has endowed you with.
And more importantly, ask yourself: Why has God given me these talents? Better yet, ask God why.
There’s no better time than today to ask these questions.
How do I figure out what my God-given talents are?
You may have a good idea of what abilities God has given you. But if not, here’s a simple little exercise to help you discover them.
Ask yourself: What am I passionate about? What is important to me? What am I good at?
The answers to these questions will give you an indication of what your spiritual gifts are.
Jesus’ parable of the talents as a model for prayer
Recently I realized Jesus’ parable could be used as a metaphor for how we can pray more effectively.
When you use the talents and abilities God gives you, it’s kind of like a prayer in action.
If you are not using the talents God has given you or using them to serve yourself instead of Him, you are basically burying your gold in the ground where it does no one any good.
The “talents” Jesus gave us
Jesus gave us lots of talents, or gifts.
The first one I think of is worth far more than $600,000 or even $3,000,000. We call it the Lord’s Prayer.
Did you ever think of the Lord’s Prayer as a gift, a talent?
When you pray the Lord’s prayer in deep contemplation of God’s nature and how He meets our daily needs, forgives, and protects us, you are using your talent and it multiplies.
If you just say the words our of habit or ritualistically, without really connecting with God or thinking about what the words mean, you have just buried your gold in the ground.
More spiritual talents
Jesus gave us so many talents and gifts. Here are just a few more. How will you use them?
- The original message Jesus preached: the kingdom of heaven is at hand
- The entire Sermon on the Mount is a spiritual bank vault of talents with unlimited resources
- All the other parables
- What else can you think of?
And to paraphrase Mrs. Kirk’s saying: The Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, the parables, etc. are talents given to you from Jesus. What you do with those talents, how you pray and put his teachings into practice in your life, is your gift back to Jesus.
Why don’t we use our God-given talents
It’s usually because of fear or lack of self-worth.
And sometimes we’re just not aware of the abilities God has given us.
And I believe we all have more abilities than we are aware of.
The best way to discover these God-given talents is to use the abilities we are aware of and that will help us discover things about ourselves we didn’t know we could do.
A simple prayer
Here’s a simple prayer that has helped me:
Dear God, what one thing do You want me to do today, to use the talents You have given me?
Take a moment right now to ponder your God-given abilities.
Will you make a commitment to take at least one baby-step today toward using the talents and abilities God has given you?
James Early is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster and conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Podcast episode 19 mentioned this week: How to Discover Your Spiritual Purpose in Life
Bible references this week:
Matthew 25:14-28 ESV
14 For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[fn] and entrusted to them his property.
15 To one he gave five talents,[fn] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.
17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.
18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’
21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[fn] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’
23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,
25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’
26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.
Matthew 4:17 ESV
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
John 18:37 ESV
37 For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.