God gives each and every one of us special talents and skills; maybe you’re an amazing photographer, math genius, musician, writer, or even great cook. Some of the skills you are using in your careers, others in your home. And some may still be left undiscovered. But once they are discovered a strange thing happens. We find it’s often not good enough to just possess that talent – we all of a sudden want to be the best.
I want to be an author. Technically, I am already a writer, I run the comms shop for a member of Congress so not surprisingly, I do a lot of writing. But I want to be an author and write books for Christian women. I truly feel that God has given me this vision, especially since the desire grows each year. However, God has not shown me that I will actually ever be published. The calling He has put on my life is to be faithful to this writing vision and obey Him – not necessarily that I will ever be successful.
How to Use Our Talents for God and Others
On good days I understand and accept this. On not so good days I not only want to be published, but I want to be one of the best. See, some days it’s not just good enough that God has given me this dream and equipped me to do it – I want to be better than everyone else.
Do you know what happens when we want to be the best? We no longer celebrate other people’s victories and instead become envious of their success. Lately I’ve been struggling with why I am not further along in my dream. I have an amazing job right now that I really do love. But the desire to be a real author remains persistent in my mind. Every year the voice grows louder and yet with no more accomplishments to show for it, I get frustrated.
I don’t get mad at God per se, but I did get mad at myself. Do I need to be doing more? Am I slacking? Who do I need to be talking to? Is it because I’m not actually good at writing? My internal-writing clock is ticking.
Then I see other people find success in writing: A friend who gets an article published. Another blogger who gets more likes, comments, and shares than I do. A woman who is 10 years younger than I am who gets a book published.
And I get discouraged. I get jealous, I even get angry and try to find faults with the person to make myself feel better. And I certainly don’t rejoice with them. Instead, I become envious of anyone who finds success in writing, especially in the Christian field. The irony!
That’s when you know you’re using your talents for yourself and not God.
And bad things happen when that’s the case. Here are three things that happen when you try to glorify yourself by using your skills for yourself:
- Envy and jealousy
- Creativity dries up
- Your work becomes drudgery, not inspired
Also, God will certainly not bless work meant to glorify ourselves and not Him. Now that I’ve had this epiphany (perhaps you can relate) I’m following the below steps to get out of this rut.
As soon as I realized my wrong-thinking (and it was only after several months of obliviousness) I confessed to God and repented. The whole point of my wanting to be a writer is to deliver truths and point more people to God – especially women who are hit with lies more and more in culture. The fact that I was letting my own desire to be noticed for my talent was counterproductive to what I hope God will do in my life.
We must repent of our jealousies and using our talents to try to glorify ourselves, instead of God. He gave us our talents in the first place anyway.
2.) Change of mindset.
I’m praying to rejoice with others’ victories; just because they received a success or blessing, doesn’t mean there isn’t enough left for me to get one, too. Also, if you received a victory, don’t you hope your friends and family would rejoice with you and not begrudge you that victory? I know I should do.
I want to be more encouraging of my family, friends’ and even strangers’ successes – whether in writing or in another field. The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and I’m afraid I haven’t always been that great at following that commandment.
The encouragement can come in the form of a text or handwritten note. I’m willing to bet that once I fully put this into practice, their joy will become my joy, too.
3.) Go and Sin No More
There is no sure-tell sign of being unrepentant than to keep stumbling into the same sin.
The woman at the well was rescued by Jesus but then told to go and sin no more. Does that mean she never sinned? No, but He was telling her that after that day she was to stop committing adulteries. I don’t believe we will ever achieve perfection this side of heaven, but we are called to stop habitual sin, absolutely.
Once you recognize a wrong-doing in your own life, stop committing it. Is this hard some days? Yes. But then the Bible also tells us we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, examine every thought that pops into our heads and throw away the ones that are not pure, right, and lovely. (Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8)
I once had a friend explain to me that whenever a questionably thought pops into her head she holds it as if a baseball, and examines it. Is it from God? Or is it from somewhere else (my own sin, even satan). If it is from anywhere but God it gets thrown far away. I always liked this imagery in helping with my thought life too.
4.) Remember that obedience is more important than the outcome.
God’s job is not to make our lives successful and pretty. Many people in the Bible received the promises of God, but not in the way they expected. Do you think it would have been Sarah and Abraham’s choice to have kids after they were in their 90’s?
The sign of strong Christian faith isn’t a successful career where we make lots of money and everything we touch turns to gold. The sign of strong Christian faith is humbleness and obedience.
That thought brings me great comfort and even joy: it is not up to me to become successful or even to be striving for it. I am only in charge of being obedient to the vision God gives me, and it is God who brings the increase – in His good and perfect plan.
So are you using your skills obediently to serve God today or to further your own accomplishments? Are you using your skills to help people around you, or to receive fame and money? Does your talent bring you joy or frustration?
Now want to hear some good news?
If you are faithful with the talents and skills God has given you today in using them for His plan, He will not only give you more, but He will fill you with an everlasting joy when you use them.
Surrender your talents to God today, recommitting to use them for Him and His glory and for whatever purposes He has planned for you.
That’s my prayer today for all of us.