A few weeks ago, I was getting my hair cut and my stylist was listening to some jazzy crooner-type music. So, we struck up a conversation about true talent. It is tough to discern what real talent is in an age where a lot of “music” is produced solely on computers. Many of these “musicians” have never touched an instrument, much less read actual sheet music. It is also hard to define talent by biblical terms. If you do a search the word ‘talent’ on BibleGateway.com, 46 results will come up. But a talent was a form of money in those days. So, NONE of those 46 references talk about ‘talent’ as we know it today.
I think part of the reason that this topic holds so much weight for me is that I am a theater major, and it is virtually impossible to separate talent from this field of study. You have the talent, you get the part. You don’t have the talent, you don’t get the part. Simple as that. Or is it? Obviously not, or this would not be such a hotly debated issue.
So, what is real talent?
- I know a girl who worked tirelessly with her voice teacher, and as a result, she earned the first chair Soprano I position in the Texas All-State Mixed Choir. That’s talent.
- Meryl Streep, arguably the greatest, most diversified actress of our time, studied at Vassar and then went on the Yale School of Drama. She has been an actress in 76 films of varying genres, been nominated for nineteen Academy Awards, and won three. That’s talent.
- C. S. Lewis graduated from Oxford University, and went on to teach there later in his life. He undoubtably has a gift for writing and published over 40 books, including 14 works of fiction, and many titles dedicated to theology. That’s talent.
I believe that talents are gifts from God. Everyone is talented in one way or another. There is no one way to define talent because it differs from person to person. One person’s talent is not the end-all-be-all of talent, and it cannot prescribe all talent for their field. I believe that people with true talent are recognizable by two factors:
- They have a strong work ethic.
We are commanded in Colossians 3:23 to “…work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” Further, we are told that, as Christians, whatever we do is for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything you do, including your performances, whether they be athletic or artistic, reflects back on the God who fashioned you in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27).
2. They are humble.
This is the more important of the two characteristics of a talented individual. Humility has a huge place in the kingdom of God, primarily because human pride and the grace of God are incompatible to dwell in the same place. Matthew Chapter 18 is a key passage to understanding the danger of human pride and the role that humility plays in God’s kingdom. In fact, Jesus tells us that the greatest ones to inherit the kingdom of God are children. He even goes so far as to say that those who do not bring themselves to such humility will never inherit the kingdom of God! That sounds kind of harsh… But it’s true. Children come quietly and curiously in search of Christ’s love, and will expect nothing in return because they are often considered ‘the least of these.’ People who are humble are acknowledging the source of their talents. They know talent is not something that they magically achieved on their own, but rather it was something that was gifted to them. Talent ultimately points back to our Creator.
I have been blessed to know some extraordinarily talented individuals during my high school career. I have been blessed both by their presence in my life, and by God’s presence in theirs. I can’t wait to meet more of the people that God has touched in the coming weeks, months, and years.