What are you doing with the abilities you’ve been given? Are you putting them to good use or shying away? Worse, are you embarrassed to have them?
Lack Of Creative Space
The other night one of my former Rutherford band members, David, dropped me a text to see what I was up to lately. We hadn’t communicated in a bit after the band went on its second “hiatus” toward the end of 2016. Granted, we had talked about trying to get things back together and get it moving in the proper direction, but it seemed like our lives just kept getting in the way. Among other things, I had a second child last November, and David was fairly recently a newlywed.
As part of that, we shared with each other our respective need for creative space. He specifically noted that he wished he had someplace where he could just drop his gear and come jam on it, or collaborate with others. A space reserved only for that. In my case, while I have an office space in the house that I use, it’s not exactly the same thing. For instance, if family is home (and typically they are) there’s always the looming threat of being interrupted with a crying baby or child crisis, which makes it difficult to open the creative brain and make things happen.
That “lack of creative space” is a real bugger. While David didn’t disclose specifically what it was he was unable to create, I very quickly shared that I had been having problems finishing up my new album, and that I had only now just begun writing new Operation: Joy and God Jots articles for the first time since late last summer or fall. As a matter of fact, I’d had to force myself to write by creating content calendars – with proposed topics and keywords – that specified by what dates throughout the year I’d need to complete each article.
But we realized that it isn’t just the lack creative space that has been causing a problem.
It’s that we have been shy to be honest about our goals.
Keeping Our Goals To Ourselves
If you frequent my website, subscribe to my mail list, follow my social media (or are a close friend or family member) then you pretty much know what my dreams, my goals, and my objectives are. In that sense, I’m not shy about them. This is what I want to do, after all, so I’m putting my best foot forward to do it.
In my everyday interactions, however, I don’t often bring any of this up. At work, I just pretty much do my job. I’ve made great friends there, but I don’t talk much about this part of who I am. It rarely comes up when I’m chatting with old friends and, nowadays, I very rarely say anything about it on my personal Facebook profile.
It’s more than just being shy about it. It’s more like I’m embarrassed to talk about these dreams and goals.
But why is that?
The Downside To Being Humbled
I used to talk about my dreams non-stop as recently as my late twenties. I had absolutely no filter about the things I wanted to do – particularly music-related – and how I wanted to do them. I was completely content to share with anyone and everyone my aspirations for becoming the next big rock star. But these days – for quite a few years now, in fact – I haven’t done a lot of sharing.
Granted, my goals have changed – while I want to continue with my music, being a rock star isn’t as important as finding an audience that derives meaning from my songs, and writing books and blogs shares that priority space – but I don’t open up to people with the same unabashed fervor as I used to.
One could argue that having a family and growing older plays into that. To some extent, I believe that’s true. In my case, however, I think some of the experiences of my late twenties and early thirties – specifically as relates to my larger dreams and aspirations – caused me to not just eat some humble pie (something I admit I drastically needed) but to practically engorge myself on it to a gluttonous degree.
I’ll be the first to admit that, at a certain point, I needed to realize I wasn’t God’s gift to rockstardom. And even if I was, that didn’t mean I could randomly act like a self-important jerk whenever I felt like it. On the other hand, however, I sometimes feel as though I eventually understood this a little too well. Like I didn’t need to just simmer down, I needed to crawl under a rock. Like I should be embarrassed to have these dreams and these aspirations.
Humility is a good thing. But it can still get out of control.
It can also get in the way of what you’re meant to do.
As a result, oftentimes I feel as if I’m squandering my talents.
The Parable Of The Talents
In the “Parable of The Talents” (found in Matthew 25:14-30, and Luke 19:12-27 as “The Parable of The Pounds”), a master leaves to his three servants the responsibility of looking after his goods while he is away. To the first servant he entrusts five “talents”; to the second, two; and to the third, one – each according to his ability.
When the master returns, he asks his servants to account for the talents to which each was entrusted. The first and second servants each report that they put what they were given to work and, in doing so, doubled the value of what their master had given them. As a result, the master rewards both of these servants.
The third servant, however, afraid of the repercussions should he lose that to which he was entrusted, reports that he had merely hidden his single talent away. He didn’t lose it, but he didn’t increase its value in any way, either. Displeased, the master punishes him by giving his one talent to the servant who had come back with ten, and then banishes him.
As with any story in the Bible, there are many interpretations of this particular parable.
For me, however, the meaning is very specific.
To each of us God gives talents and passions. The talents that God bestows upon us are meant to be used. Your passions are what those talents are meant to be used for – the task that God has given you to perform. In utilizing those talents to perform those tasks, you are not only lifting up yourself, you are lifting up others. In this way its value multiplies. In this way you are taking what God has given you and turned it into something of an investment. Not just in yourself but in the world around you.
But if you’re shy about your talents and passions – if you aren’t willing to just dispense with the preciousness and get uninhibited about your dreams – you may just as well be squandering God’s purpose for you.
Don’t Be Shy (Dammit)
Toward the end of our conversation, I told David – who also expressed a timidity regarding his ambitions – that we need to “stop being shy about that shit”. God put a spark in us for a reason.
I need to stop being shy about what I do, and what I’m trying to do. Yeah, I write blogs and books about inspiring Joy, and about the importance of Compassion. But for some reason (maybe some of the above?) I’m just always so shy and rather embarrassed about it.
I know God is calling me to use my talents to write and make music and give a voice to people like me who are interested in Christ but maybe are a little thrown off from the contemporary negative vibes, chatter, connotations and dogmas, and as a result are worried about getting into it. Who better to talk about all that than someone who felt (and sometimes still feels, depending on the company) the same way, and can express things not just analytically but with a self-deprecating sense of humor?
Or maybe it’s not so grand. Maybe He just wants me to use my abilities to share my story because it will have a profound, life-changing effect on even just one person.
Um… yeah… about that “self-importance” thing…
Although my goal is certainly to turn those five talents my master has given me into ten, I often feel like I’m simply hiding them away.
Best dig them out and show the world.