Posts Tagged ‘talents’

Art by Kelly Watts

Art by Kelly Watts

Apparently, there were several concentric circles of influence, courage, and power around King David. In I Chronicles 11, there are several references to both the three and the thirty. Unfortunately, they don’t exactly match up with sister references in II Samuel 23. (See Wikipedia article for details.) And yet, they are provocative in their specificity:

Jashobeam, a Hacmonite, was commander of the Thirty . . . Next in command came Eleazar, Dodo’s son the Ahohite, who was one of the three warriors. . . . Abishai, Joab’s brother, was chief of the Thirty. He raised his spear against the three hundred men he had slain, but he wasn’t considered one of the Three. He was the most famous of the Thirty. He became their commander, but he wasn’t among the Three. . . .  He [Benaiah] was famous among the Thirty, but didn’t become one of the Three. [I Chronicles 10b; 12; 20-21; 25]

These groups represent spheres of influence as well as strategies of leadership.They were predominately known to be mighty warriors.

Jesus also had spheres: the three closest disciples [Peter, James & John, so referenced in Mark 9:2] and of course, the twelve who became the core group, “first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him” [Matthew 10:2-4] and lastly, the seventy or seventy-two, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go [Luke 10:1].

In each case, these groups had particular assignments. In David’s case, they were warriors and commanders, built for strength, battle, and protection. They displayed courage and often risked their lives for their beloved King. They came to David gifted in these areas.

On the other hand, the disciples that Jesus selected seemed less than qualified. They came from different walks of life except for a sub-group of them who were identified as fisherman and one a tax collector. We don’t know much about the rest, but we do know they were not the normal supplicants who would follow a rabbi. Many stories, in fact, show some frustration on Jesus’s part at their ability to grasp his teachings and what his teachings meant. Essentially, the disciples did not really come into their own until Jesus commissioned them upon his resurrection.

In recent years, the phrase, “God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called” has become quite popular. And although that is true in some cases, like the New Testament disciples who learned by doing and following their Teacher, we also have the example of the Three and the Thirty who were already gifted and committed their gifts to the King. They gave what they had.

Both are needed: those who have talents can surrender them to God and those who don’t know what their talents might be can surrender their will to God and their use will evolve.

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make a wayWe all were. Sent ahead. In some cases, that is more obvious than in others, but if you think about it, we can each lay a path or new ground for our descendants and loved ones.

But God sent me [Joseph] ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. [Genesis 45:7, NIV]

My mother and father left Europe and came to America and worked hard for the sake of their children and a new life. My mother’s mother left her village in Lithuania to go to Riga to experience city life. In my own life, bouncing from city to city, I eventually landed with a husband and a home here in Maryland and drew three orphaned children to us from Latvia and St. Petersburg, Russia, their lives forever changed.

We can each make a way. We can cut the brambles to the best of our ability so that others can walk behind.

But of course, some people refuse. The road ahead seems too difficult, too overwhelming. And so they sit in what small space they can carve out and wait. Reminds me of the parable of the “talents.” Three servants were entrusted with wealth to invest for the Master while he journeyed away. Two took risks and plunged ahead. But the one merely buried what he was given and although he returned it all, he had made not change or increase.

Humans are given gifts as well as challenges that make us who we are but also help make us what God intends. It is not about the money but about the attitude, the response to life’s events, accepting the truth of what is and making the very best of what that truth can contribute.

This process is true for organizations as well as individuals. Churches, in particular, have a mission to reach out to those stagnant souls who have lost their will or hope toward the next step. The Church, the Body of Christ, can do corporately what cannot always be done by the one. But it must be done in unity and love.

Look back: who is following you? Whose steps are landing in your footprints?

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A popular teaching among Christians emphasizes a person’s weaknesses and God’s ability to work with them to create strength [2nd Corinthians 12:9] and I don’t necessarily disagree. But perhaps we have lost sight of the importance of gifted strengths.

I Peter 4:10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
[NIV 1984] or As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor]. [Amplified]

I have given a number of workshops on problem solving and the core usually revolves around some type of brainstorming, a wild explosion of crazy ideas tossed onto the table without concern for viability or ridiculousness. It’s a tool for tackling that worn-out saying, “think outside the box.” It’s a tool for generating creativity.

But many people will shy away from this term, creativity, saying they don’t have it. I disagree. I believe everyone is creative to one degree or another. Most people put some energy into selecting clothes in the morning, making a meal, purchasing an item, planning a party or other event, etc. These decisions are made out of that creative place within. It’s directing oneself toward an end. It’s seeing beforehand, it’s dreaming and imagining.

Divine gifts: some people nurture their creativity and as a result, it is more accessible to them. But everyone has it, because God is creative. And we are extensions of God’s mind. And it’s a definite strength, foundational to human, unique and elastic.

But we must also remember that gifts are a personal responsibility. Like the parable of the talents [Mathew 25:14-30], we have to administer the gifts entrusted to us: we have to use them, not exercise false modesty saying, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” Baloney.

I understand there are concerns about working our talents and, as a result, getting prideful or self-absorbed. But it’s not the gift that’s the problem, it’s the motive.

It’s the same misunderstanding many people have about money, thinking that money is evil, when it’s the “love of money” that strangles the soul [I Timothy 6:10].

Perhaps we should all try this: create a resume for serving God and others.

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In many ways, this phrase just rubs me the wrong way. I want to put my hands on my hips and say, “MY place?” Who are you to say what my place is? But then, I take a breath, and think: isn’t it true . . . isn’t htere a moment in time in which we are touched by God? That’s the place we start.

I Corinthians 7:17a
Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.

Whether I like it or not, I started out in a place in life: daughter of immigrants, relatively poor, gifted with some wit and bits of talent. When I recognized the Christ spirit within me, I was on quite a downhill spiral. I was actually losing place. I was falling into a different place, casting away my God-given talents.

So, my place in life is not just my class and race, it’s the entire package of who I am in a moment. It’s not that my place may not change, but it’s not for me to destroy what has been given.

Paul writes that it’s the commands of God that must be followed, that being more essential than place. (For me, these are the two great commands of loving God and others.) When doing this, THEN, place may change.

Today, I am in a new “physical” space, in a workshop for writers. Today, I sense my place in time and Christ is about to take a turn.

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I just realized I’ve been confusing God’s gifts with God’s tools.

Romans 11:29
For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] [Amplified]

The parable of the talents has always been a challenge for me as I thought of those talents as gifts (like intelligence, creativity, good health, etc.) [Matthew 25:14-30] And how important it has been for me to invest these talents wisely that they may bring forth fruit. Obviously, I don’t want to be the one-talent guy who gets the outer darkness treatment.

But as I pondered verses 11:28-29, I realized the talent parable is not about irrevocable gifts. It’s about “tools” that God gives to help us accomplish whatever is laid out before us. He gives challenges and he gives equipment.

But the irrevocable gifts are wrapped up in “call.” This truth is foundational from the times of Noah and Abraham. The covenants of God are eternal. We will not be destroyed and if we accept the call to God Presence within, that gift is also eternal.

I have been too centered on what my senses can experience and not given enough place to the spirit. This is where the words of eternity have meaning. This is where faith can grow. This is where assurance, trust, and hope find root.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

So often when we talk about “the lost,” Christians are referring to people who have not accepted Christ. But I think there is more. Jesus came to seek the lost parts of ourselves as well and to redeem what we have lost.

I think humankind has tremendous potential. But, by the choices we make and roads we take, much is lost. We lose our giftings. We lose our talents. We lose our ability to love. We lose our ability to hear and see God.

Reintegrate me.

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