I’ve not seen the movie The Bucket List, but as a hospice social worker I understand the concept well – in fact, part of my job is to help my patients and their families identify and fulfill some of their final wishes. It’s important, and not just for the terminally ill.
In my office at home I have a plaque with the following statement by Erma Bombeck:
“When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'”
God is a God of order, of balance. Did you ever consider that while He gave you a primary gift or calling, He provided you with other gifts as well – for balance? In Ecclesiastes 3 we find the very familiar passage about there being a time for everything, a season. Read it again if you need to but notice the balance there: living/dying, planting/sowing, laughing/crying.
We tend to focus on our primary gifts because to a great extent that is how we make our living. There is nothing wrong with that, but what about the other talents that God gives us? If you believe as I do that God never does anything without purpose, then those ‘minor’ talents are there for a reason. And, as I think about it and my life, I’m convinced that those minor talents are things that will take us out of our comfort zone and stretch us. In other words, take us to places where we are more dependent on God and less on our own competence.
Not a bad place to be. Scary, but not bad.
Do you have some musical talent, just a little, that God could use somewhere? What about the ability to write well? Or sew a little bit? Can you paint? Yes? But isn’t there someone more talented and gifted than you? Of course! Wouldn’t they be the right person for the job then? Not if God has chosen you.
Before you groan, roll your eyes and stop reading let me say this: I’m not suggesting that we all run out and take on extra responsiblities and obligations. That’s the last thing we need – more busyness. What I am saying is those talents or gifts are there for a purpose and our lives will be richer and more fulfilling if we use them instead of ignoring them.
If you think about it, those ‘secondary’ gifts are usually the ones that bring you great pleasure and satisfaction – even if no one ever sees or knows about them. What a gift from a generous and loving Father! Sometimes those gifts spill over to benefit others as well. Even better.
I am learning to focus more on my ‘minor’ talents. I have to. I’ve been climbing out of a burnout pit lately, and the things that are giving me the greatest pleasure and restoring me are those things that I’ve ignored far too long. I am grateful for them, and praying that God will use them not only to restore me, but to minister to others along the way as well.
If words like depleted, calloused, cold, exhausted, unconcerned describe you, you’re not alone. We have a Savior who understands. The gospels are full of examples of Jesus going off by himself and taking time to recharge. God has built into us a need for balance: work/play, rest/activity, creativity/meditation.
So, my fun talents are cross-stitching, writing, decorating my house. I’m also trying my hand at developing a line of greeting cards with several different themes. Not all at once, but in the down time that I am now deliberate about scheduling.
Crazy? Yes, a little, and that has made it so much fun! Be intentional about your talents – every one of them. Use up every smidgen of them.
What’s on your bucket list and where are your hidden talents? This is a good year to bring them out to play!
“Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20
May God grant you, his faithful servants, gladness of heart in 2014.
Sherri S. has been a social worker for twenty years, first in the field of mental health, and currently as a medical social worker with Emerald Coast Hospice in the Florida panhandle. She has been a member of NACSW since 2011. Connect with Sherri at her own blog at www.sherristone.net.