When I was little I remember wondering if I had any talents. I even asked my Mom one day, “Do I have any talents?” My mom is a gifted painter and watercolorist, and I can barely draw stick figures. My dad was a professional baseball player and an excellent all-around athlete, and all of my siblings were involved in sports — baseball, soccer, swimming, volleyball, golf — while I could barely make it through P.E. class. Most of my family is outgoing and at ease in social situations. I was extremely shy and timid.
Looking at all that talent and skill in my family that I didn’t share in, it seemed to me that I didn’t have any gifts. My mom assured me I did and encouraged me to find out what they were, even though they would be different than what God had given the rest of my family. It took me a very long time to do that. Why? Because I kept comparing myself to them.
The pitfalls of comparing
A big problem we human beings have is comparing. We look at other people’s appearance, gifts, skills, possessions, lifestyle, and compare it to ours. That always ends up badly. When we compare ourselves to others it can lead to envy and despair (if they seem so much better than we are) or it can lead to pride (if we think we are better than they are).
When we are about the work of discovering our talents and gifts, instead of comparing ourselves to others we need to ask the Holy Spirit to show us, “What unique gifts have you given me?” Then start looking for opportunities to use those talents in God’s service.
St. Paul talks about this in 1 Cor. 12:4-31. Your homework is to read the whole passage. But verse 14 and 15, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body…’”
I felt like that when I was little. Because I wasn’t a “hand” perhaps I didn’t have any talents. My comparing myself to others made me sad and insecure.
Verse 20 and 21 goes on, “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’”
The world needs you
God put each one of us here with a specific mission in mind. St. John Henry Newman says this:
“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nought. I shall do good; I shall do His work.”
If you feel shortchanged or that God didn’t give you much to work with, get busy finding out what He did give you and put it to use in the Kingdom of God. Whatever gift you have, use it well and wholeheartedly.
It might not be flashy or stellar or applaudable, but if you use your gifts and talents — be it a bright smile, the gift of housecleaning, helping calm a fussy baby, data entry done diligently — whatever it is, do it for the glory of God and the world will be a better place.
And one day, on the other side, you will see all that God did through your faithfully-used gifts.