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Fine-tuning the Gift
Photo: Julia Freeman-Woolpert
There’s an old story floating around in the Kennedy family empire, which had one brother successfully run for President at the age of 42, another make a run for the White House at the same age, and a third brother in the Senate. Apparently—and there’s some truth to this—Teddy Kennedy had once seriously considered becoming a priest. But the family joke was that he would only do it if he could immediately become a bishop.

So what is the Christian’s proper and biblical response to the Parable of the Talents? Should we want to have more of them? In a book entitled "Surprised By the Power of the Spirit," Pentecostal minister Jack Deere shares four important things each of us should do with regard to our talents.

Four Important Things

First, we should pray and ask God to give us these gifts. We should want to be a five-talent person and to have God add to our portfolio. We should want to be major players. First Corinthians 12 is the passage dealing with spiritual gifts, and verse 31 follows a long listing of the various talents to be found in the church: "Eagerly desire the greater gifts." We should be anxious to have as much holy influence as possible.

Second, we should attempt to regularly use the gifts that we do have. If you have five gifts, use all five. If God gives you two, that’s great also; put them both to use. Don’t just utilize one and leave the other on a shelf. If you only have one, well, for sure don’t go out back and bury it.

Third, we should study the topic of spiritual gifts, the doctrine of gifts and talents. I Corinthians 12 begins: "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." Paul goes on to speak about the fact that the Spirit gives them, that there’s a great variety, that we are one body organized for service, that all the people and all the gifts are important, etc. You should know what your gifts are. Think about it until you have an answer to that question. Ask your friends for feedback; invite the Holy Spirit to guide you. Simply try new things for a while and see if they suit you.

I sometimes say this prayer: "Lord, please take me and use me anywhere you choose."

A preacher got up once and said to the congregation: “Folks, five years ago Jesus called me here, and this week Jesus called me to leave here and go to a new location.” All the members stood up and spontaneously sang, "What a Friend We have in Jesus!"

But along with prayer and Bible study and church attendance and being in a small group, we should spend time trying to find out what God wants for us to do with the spiritual gifts we’ve been given.

Here’s the fourth principle: have friendships with other people who are more advanced in the gifts than we are. Rub shoulders with other Christians who are active in working for God. I occasionally meet at a restaurant with Christian pastors of other denominations. We share strategies, exchange success stories, look for tips. I read Leadership magazine, not just for the cartoons, but to see how other people are expanding their gifts.

So Christmas morning is just the beginning of a great adventure. Tell that to Monsignor Kennedy.

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By David Smith. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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