One of my favorite parables from the bible is the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30. Originally, at first glance, I thought the parable was about money. Essentially talents were a unit of financial measurement in biblical times. However, as I read it more it made sense to me that the “talents” could also refer to “gifts and/or skill” that people are blessed with. I believe this is where we get our use of the word as it relates to musical talent and artistic talent among others. In the parable of course the master leaves his servants with the financially related talents. The first servant takes the 5 talents and invests them and has 10 talents to give to the master. The second servant does similarly but with only 2 talents. The final servant has only one talent and buries it and does not increase the master’s talents. The parable states that each is given talents according to their ability. The reason I love this parable is that each one of us has abilities. No two of us have the same ability in all areas but we are ALL required to utilize our talents for the benefit of the kingdom. Not all of us are superstar athletes or musical stars. Not all of us are gifted speakers. But we are ALL required to USE our talents for the benefit of the master. It is only when we bury our gifts or skills…our TALENTS that the master becomes displeased. Burying our talents could be as simple as working an unfulfilling job that doesn’t utilize our gifts. It could be as simple as just marking time in our lives and not truly living out our divinely appointed purpose. The main point is that we are called to use our talents, not hide them, bury them or let them waste.
Who determines what a talent/gift/or skill is? One person may be very understanding with their kids. Another person may be a great listener. Sometimes it’s just comforting having a certain person to talk too. The problem comes from when society attempts to determine for people what a “talent” is. Often times this is attached with financial gain but can be very misleading. There are teachers with ENORMOUS talent for reaching our kids and teaching that are severely underpaid. There are police officers that are EXCELLENT at diffusing a situation with just their words. All of these, to me, seem like talents.
There are numerous ways to determine your gifts or talents. There are churches that offer service aptitude tests. There are psychological assessments that help people through surveys and questionnaires to determine talents or skills. Even trial and error is a great way to determine your talents. Not sure if you are a talented painter? grab a brush. Not sure if you can sing? go to a karaoke bar and give it a try. Regardless of the way in which you discover your talents the key is to DISCOVER them. Discovering your talents opens up an opportunity to use them for the benefit of mankind. And that can only be a good thing…