Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-26
Dr. Tom Pace poses the following question from time to time, “What if I gave you a gift and you set it on the shelf (or put it in a drawer), but never used it? How should I feel?” Many responses likely follow. Disappointed? Disregarded? Discounted? Angry? Like I wasted my time/effort/expense in giving the gift?
Obviously, Tom is calling us out for not using the gifts and talents God bestows on us.
Reverend Marquise Hobbs goes a step further asking, “Why do we sit on the gifts God gives us?” I conjecture most of our reasons (excuses?) start with the word fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking foolish (see my Musing Stupid). Fear of not measuring up. Fear of being criticized. My list of fears for not using my gifts is a long one, and maybe you have some I don’t.
Talents come in so many varieties. Maybe you love to paint or sculpt, but have decided your art “isn’t good enough.” Maybe your passion is learning and sharing what you learn with others (we call that teaching), but you think others wouldn’t be interested (you’ll be surprised just how interested they are). Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, but have convinced yourself no one would read it. Maybe your passion is cooking and entertaining, but you don’t invite others to your home because you know they are too busy.
Let me introduce you to Jon Acuff, a fabulous writer and motivational speaker. A few years ago, he published a book entitled Start. Punch Fear in the Face. It encourages people to step out of the mundane and engage in those life pursuits about which they are passionate. And, he offers numerous mechanisms to get you over your fears and into action. I highly recommend the book and Jon’s humorous, freewheeling writing style, not to mention his concepts really work.
Four years later, he published another book. It is entitled Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. Let me share Chapter 1, page 1:
I fought the wrong ghost in 2013.
That year, I published a book urging readers to start….
I thought the biggest problem for people was the phantom of fear that prevented them from beginning…. Fear was the ghost holding them back and starting was the only way to beat it.
I was half right.
The start does matter. The beginning is significant. The first few steps are critical, but they aren’t the most important.
Do you know what matters more? Do you know what makes the start look silly and easy and almost insignificant?
The finish. 1
One day when I was in the doldrums with my writing, I was reading a book – I strongly suspect it was either Start or Finish. The author proposed the following scenario. “So what if you sold only 20 copies of your book? Maybe one went to the one person who really needed it. Wouldn’t that make it worthwhile?” This really slammed home as I had only sold about 20 copies of Disciple is a Verb, Discovering Richness of Life Through Deeper Discipleship at the time.
I challenge you to look deep inside for what it is you feel passionate about, but keep putting off (some of you already know what gift you’re sitting on so identifying what it is will take almost no time or effort). Once you have it identified, commit to activating your gift without regard to the outcome.
God gave you the gift and is waiting for you to use it. Don’t make him wait any longer.
Punch Fear in the Face, use your gift!
1 Jon Acuff, Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. (New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin, 2017), 1.