I sometimes grumble that if I don’t sell or share what I wrote, then I’ve wasted my gift. I’ve served no one. And that’s wrong.
But that mindset seems perverse.
Consider the Olympic athlete who swims hours and hours to get ready for the race, the concert pianist who practices daily, the woman who crochets potholders for her own use, the man who whittles and whittles.
They are all using their gifts, their talents. But how has the common good been served?
I have a Christian friend who bemoans, “I’ve gotta do something creative.” She says this when she hasn’t crafted any beaded jewelry for a long time.
The other day when she said, “I’ve gotta do something creative,” I replied, “If you don’t, you’re hurting God.”
Imagine giving someone a gift, only to see it a week later in the Thrift Shop? How would you feel? Might hurt be the right word?In any case, why would God give my friend her urge to create if He didn’t want her to express it, to enjoy it, as He too enjoys creating? I’m pretty sure Satan hasn’t bestowed us with our gifts and talents.
Whether she creates a beaded bracelet for herself or for someone else, the sense of satisfaction she gets is:
- Serving herself. She too is part of the “common good.”
- Releasing stress, which makes her more loving in relating with others. (Love thy neighbor, yes?)
So, when would doing the gift be wrong? I can think of 3 scenarios where exercising ones talent could be a problem.
First, expressing our talents would be a sin if the intended purpose were ungodly. Take the woodcarver, for example. If he’s whittling tree limbs into torture devises, then he’s using his gift sinfully. The God-given talent itself isn’t wrong.
To think that every freakin’ thing I write needs to be read by someone else so I can feel validated is arrogant and wrong. This goes for swimmers, concert pianists and others. We’re practicing, man. Practicing. That’s part of the deal with gifts.
Finally, balance is important. Steve Jobs was “intensely” gifted. But he chose not to balance the time he spent at Apple with time for his family. His kids (both illegitimate and legitimate) suffered and will always suffer due to holes in their hearts that Jobs carved out with his blade of absence.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (NRSV, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7)