Thursday, May 25, 2017


The English word talent is defined as a natural aptitude or skill. The word is actually derived from the parable of talents. (Matthew 25:14-30) Which is what the parable was metaphorically talking about. But literally speaking, the Hebrew word talent was a unit of money equal to 6,000 drachmas. To give you perspective of how much that really is, one drachma was a standard days wage at the time. (Some newer translations replace the word talent with something more recognizable, like bag of gold.)

The aforementioned parable is probably more relevant today than ever. Since we are truly living in an age where most bury their talent in the ground only to falsely accuse God of not giving them any talent, just like the unfaithful servant does in the parable. But why is this? The parable itself says he did it out of fear of failing the master, which still rings true today. Church people are often too afraid of putting their talent to use for fear of judgment, or messing up and displeasing God. Not realizing that not trying, disappoints God far more than failure ever will. (See also Matthew 15:1-20 & 16:5-12) Yet it goes much deeper than that, so let me address these fears and perceptions about being talentless with a little science that just happens to make the truth of this parable come to life.

A group of developmental psychologists seeking to answer the question, is creativity inherent or merely learned, embarked on a long term study of the subject. They did so by observing many different children over the course of years. Their conclusions were, all children are born creative, it's non-creative behavior that is learned; REALLY. All their observations indicated that all children start showing signs of creativity very early, but things like routine and structure tend to teach us that creativity has little use. Also, a lack of encouragement, and a desire for acceptance teaches us it's better to forsake creative efforts. To just bury that part of our lives in a hole if you will.

Which is why so many creative adults tend to be loners. I say that because the trait that makes loaners the way they are, is that they are not as motivated by acceptance as the average person is. They would much rather be true to their gifts than compromise themselves for the sake of social integration. A tendency that they are often criticized for, which only reenforces their behavior, not change it. Since that constant criticism teaches them that relationships are a source of misery, not fulfillment.

Which is a huge obstacle for the church. Since the Biblical model for church (1 Cor.12:12-31) of sharing our diverse talents through service of one another, so that all benefit (Rom. 12:10, 1 Cor. 12:7) completely defies human nature and social norms. Since the people who are most self-aware, and have developed their talent often feel out of place within group dynamics. Where the ones who want to be part of a collective, tend to not be self-aware enough to know what they have to offer the group. So as you can see, we need more than mere human knowledge to make this lofty model for church work. However, the church was never meant to use human understanding to apply the unity in diversity concept, but rather scripture reveals that it's the Holy Spirit that makes it work. And guess what, the Holy Spirit will not necessarily revolve everything around your comfort, or your preferences, and he definitely will not direct you towards uniformity of gifting, which is what most people prefer, and are comfortable with. Nor, will he tell you to leave your talent buried in the ground and merely warm a pew every Sunday. That is not what the biblical model of church is about.

As you can see, discovering our talent isn't just a learning process, but an unlearning process as well. Unlearning what the world has told us about our talent, and a matter of remembering when we chose to forsake it, and where we buried it. A matter of embracing a role of a servant, not an entitled consumer. A matter of embracing all our diverse skills, not seeking a one size fits all church.

A man digging a grave for his own heart.
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. . . throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. -Matthew 25:30