31 for 41: Talents and Trophies

Dear Donovan,

When you were in preschool, I came to pick you up one day and a teacher met me at the door.  “I need to tell you about something that Donovan is doing.”  That statement often means that the child is in trouble, so I braced myself to hear what had happened.

“Donovan can climb all the way to the top of one of the posts of our shade shelter.  He gets up there and can just hang out and look at the other children.  None of the other children can climb up the pole.  We just wanted to make sure you knew and were okay with it.”

D spiderman

I was not surprised by this bit of information.  I had my very own four-year-old Spiderman living with me.  Not long after you could walk, you were already climbing as high as you could and then jumping off of whatever you had climbed.  You were certainly gifted with physical abilities.

So for any gift you are given, the question that follows is “Why was I given this gift?”  The short answer is:  to glorify your Creator who gave you the gift, and to help others by using your gift.  This answer is in keeping with Jesus’ words when asked which is the greatest commandment of the law:

 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Matthew 22: 37-40

As you develop a talent that has been given to you, look to others who have successfully developed the same talent but who also use the talent graciously and unselfishly.  Also be considerate of those who are not gifted in the same way, and who may self-conscious in that particular area.  Remember when you had a hard time understanding why some of your classmates dreaded PE class?  There are many adult versions of PE class, and if you can be sensitive to others’ insecurities, it will make you an understanding and insightful man.

What will make you a humble man as well is remembering that you need help from others who have talents in areas that will always be weaknesses for you.  Also, if you daily acknowledge the Source of your talents, you will not become arrogant in the exercise of those talents.  When you broke your thumb playing baseball in elementary school, you asked me why God let it happen.  Then only answer I had then is the answer I have for you now.  Since you have been gifted with physical abilities, maybe it was an early lesson to never become too prideful in those abilities.  You were allowed to experience just how swiftly a physical ability can be taken away.

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You have been given so many gifts, my son.  To be given gifts means that you have a purpose.  To be fulfilled, then, you need to partner your gifts with hard work and let God direct for you a purposeful path.  Do not be like the man who buried his talents out of fear (Matthew 25).  Be a good steward of what has been given to you.

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As for those around you, view each person as someone who also has a gift, and with it, great potential.  That is central to our belief in the value of each human.  Love people by noticing their talents, supporting them in the discovery and development of their talents, and by celebrating their achievements with them.

Finally, while it is fine to use your talents to strive for a championship or award, be aware that many trophies quickly lose their value and people soon forget about awards.  So do not pour too much of your energy into the gain of temporary trophies that have no eternal value.

I was once reading the story of David and Goliath, a great tale about combining talent, preparation, and the desire to glorify God in order to defeat a giant in one’s life.  That day, a certain verse stood out to me.  It’s not as well-known in the story, but it says “And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.” (I Samuel 17:51b)

We have a Champion who is alive and victorious.   “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:18)  So, we have no reason to flee from difficult tasks in life.  If you are doing what you have been called to do with the gifts you were given, you cannot fail because the Champion who created you is also guiding you and supplying you with His power.

Use your talents for God.  Expect great things and attempt great things (William Carey).  Work for a trophy that can never be stolen, burned, or forgotten.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  Colossians 3:23-24

I love you forever,

Your mama who is proud of her Spiderman

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2 thoughts on “31 for 41: Talents and Trophies

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