There is a certain point where still just being full of potential is actually a tragedy.
I say this as I contemplate Matt 25:14-30, “The Parable of the Talents.”
When one is young, it’s a huge compliment when someone says about him, “He’s just so full of potential.” It means that the person sees in him abilities and capacity to do great things. But it’s a very common tale that as years go by, for whatever reason, that young person is now middle aged and “still full of potential.” There is still a lot of raw talent and ability wrapped up in him, but he has never really done anything with it.
For every young person full of potential, few take the steps to develop that potential, work it out, invest it, and bring a return that would honor the one who gave them the talents to begin with. In the end, those people who were once so promising are often told, “You wicked and slothful servant…”
By God’s grace, in addition to being able to serve my local body at The Journey Saint Louis, he has allowed me to travel and serve the larger church, pastoring through the vehicle of being an artist/song-writer. And it is in my travels that my eyes have really been opened to this idea of potential. As I go and serve in various churches and conferences, I interface with teens and college students on a regular basis and so many of them ask me questions like, “How did you get to where you are?” or “How can I build a ministry like yours?” I’m just a regular dude, so I have to look beyond the hilarity of it all for a second, and then find the motive and meaning behind the real question. The real question people are asking is, “How do I make my life count?”
No one starts out in this world thinking, “I’ll settle for mediocrity.” When we were kids we all wanted to be great. We aspired to be astronauts or actors, pro musicians or pro athletes. Most of us know by now that you don’t have to be famous to change the world, but the point was that we all wanted to count.
At some point along the way, we were told to be responsible… to get real. To have a backup plan. And many of us, much like the 1 talent guy, fell into the trap of thinking that God was a hard, graceless master – a terrible dictator. That somehow he who gave us the talent wouldn’t take care of us if we were faithful to invest it for his glory. We started to believe that college, a fallback, a guaranteed paycheck and benefits package were more faithful than the one who died to rescue us. And so we buy in and bury it.
Granted, it always sounds crazy when one gives up security (or at least the illusion of it) to pursue his or her God-given dreams.
To leave the well-paying job to start a Christ-exalting business.
To adopt a child who desperately needs a family, or be foster parents to children who just need to be loved… even though you already have kids.
To leave a church you’re comfortable in to plant a Gospel-centered church that would spread the name of Jesus to its city and the nations.
To sell everything you own and move to take the Gospel to an unreached people group who has never heard the name of Jesus.
To aspire to be an elder in your church to pastor and care for people who are broken and hurting.
Let me say this: it’s always the people who are insane enough to really believe they can change the world that actually do change the world.
For Christians, we can all have that bold, audacious faith that believes we can change the world because we actually have the ultimate World Changer indwelling us. As his disciples and missionaries, it’s not cocky to believe that God wants to do great things through us. Call me crazy, but I truly believe that by writing pastoral, artful and theologically rich corporate worship songs, I will impact the world in some significant ways. Some people call that naïve… but I can’t help it.
Now I may or may not have the ability to impact the world to the degree that some men have…I don’t know. God, in his sovereign grace, allots specific talents to men according to their ability. Maybe I’m a 2 talent guy and maybe I’m a 5 talent guy. Maybe you are… But I don’t want us to get to the end of our lives and have lived like 2 talent guys, when we were created to be 5 talent guys. And I certainly don’t want to be like the 1 talent guy. I really want to please my master and hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
So here are some questions I’m asking myself. Maybe ask yourself the same…
1. What is God calling me to now that requires audacious faith? What’s keeping me from obeying?
2. Where is my security? In my job? In my home? In my family?
3. Do I see God as a good, faithful master who will take care of me? Or a cruel, hard, unfaithful dictator who leaves me on my own to make it? Or maybe somewhere in between?
4. Am I spending my energy investing the talents He has given me or slothfully coasting on comfort?