I remember winning the privilege of standing before my whole school to recite a speech. I had spent hours and hours writing it, then rewriting it, and finally memorizing it. After presenting it to my class, I was chosen along with several others to present it to the entire student body.
I well remember my apprehension leading up to that event. I was frightened by the thought of staring into a sea of faces while quoting from memory my carefully prepared speech. What if I forgot a line? What if everything crumbled from that point onward? What if I made a complete fool of myself?
I did okay. I survived. I think some even enjoyed it. But my discomfort leading up to that moment and throughout those five minutes on stage was not quickly forgotten.
Thinking back on all the stress I experienced in connection to that speech makes me wonder why I ever continued on in that sphere. Why am I a public speaker today? What motivated me to press on? Why do I absolutely love what I do now but feared so much back then? What ultimately prompted me to work on a God-given gift I didn’t know I even had until years later?
It wasn’t until the end of my teen years that I began to flow in this capacity again. I was given a special oratory part for a choir program. I started teaching school and coaching my students in how to give effective speeches. I preached at the local church I attended. I got involved in prison ministry and spoke to inmates from the platform. All this happened before I had discerned a life career.
Did I just wake up one day and decide to be a public speaker? Did my awareness of God utilizing this gift within me come into sharp focus in a moment?
No, not at all. In fact, just the opposite. I more or less grew into it. My fear of audiences slowly faded. My speaking style morphed over time into what it is today. Oh, I still get nervous sometimes before getting on stage. I still quake a little at the fear of failure. And I certainly still have a great amount to work on in developing my speaking skills and presentations. But I’m moving upward and onward. I read books on communication. I both listen to and watch great communicators on DVD. I also constantly seek feedback on my presentations.
I think I’ve discovered my gift. God orchestrated various events throughout my childhood and adolescence to bring me to this point. I clearly know that this is the talent he has called me to utilize for His glory. He requires that I not bury it, that I not waste it.
I was reminded of all this while reading Erwin McManus’ insights into the parable of the talents (Luke 19:11-27) just this week: “God sees not only who we are, but who we can become. When we neglect our God-given capacity, when we refuse to maximize our God-given potential, it is wickedness in the sight of God.”
Did you catch that? The guy who buried his gift is called a “wicked servant”! Sometimes sins of omission are just as great as sins of commission.
Every one of us has potential. Every one of us has a God-given talent that He wants to maximize for His glory. And to not utilize it or develop it to its full capacity is wicked.
So what is your gift? Have you discovered it? If so, what are you doing with it? Are you going to do everything in your power to maximize it for God’s glory?