By Duncan Earley –
It’s honestly one of the best compliments I have ever received. It was a Sunday morning, getting ready for our first gathering of the day, and one of our worship leaders looked over at me and announced: ‘Dunx! Jack of all trades, master of some’ with a wink. I don’t think he realized how impactful that statement was.
We are all gifted by God with different abilities, talents and skills. Some have a couple, some a few and some many. None more important or greater than another. I am lucky enough to serve our church community in a number of different ways (I promise I’m not bragging, this will have a point so go with me). It could be preaching, leading worship, playing guitar, drums, producing videos and graphics, leading our production team, producing gatherings, writing scripts, pulling together openers, shaping series ideas… I love it all. All is the key word I want to highlight, because I believe every gift I have is God-given. Every single one.
Matthew 25:14-30 contains a famous parable, the Parable of the Talents. A master is going on a journey so he leaves three servants a certain number of talents while he is gone. One he gives five talents, another two talents, and another one talent. We know the story well… two of servants grow their talents and give their returning master double what they had originally been given, while the other servant buried his one talent out of fear and gives it back, as is, to his master. The overall lesson is that we are to grow what God has given us and not hide it away in fear. One thing I have begun to notice through this parable is that the servants who grew their talents were not selective. The text does not say the guy with five talents kept two aside, invested one in a bank, put another in a high-risk, short term investment, while the last one he took a conservative, longer term investment with medium-low risk and at the end popped out a total of ten talents. It says he took his five and brought back ten, done. Here’s what I believe God is teaching through this: we are to focus on every single gift and talent God has given us. We are to grow them, develop them and invest them.
There is a popular school of thought that has gone through the corporate world and I am seeing it being applied more and more to our gifts specifically within church. It says that when you intentionally focus on your top strengths you will be far more effective or successful. Things like Strength Finders, personality testing etc. have all brought this teaching through. Now I do believe this has a great benefit. I have gone through Strength Finders and found it so helpful in shaping how I see and know myself and how I attack things so please don’t think I’m bashing these ideas, I’m not. I just believe it has had one surprising negative impact that I am noticing more and more. I am noticing that people are getting so focused on one or two of the gifts God gave them that they are neglecting the other three, four, five or ten He gave them too, and the church is losing out because of it. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not calling people to over-extend, over-commit and burnout. On the contrary, I am calling people to fulfill their God-given capacity. The master gave the one servant five talents because He knew that servant was able to handle that. I am seeing a lot of amazingly gifted ‘Jack of all trades’ copout on many of their God-given talents in the name of ‘focus and intentionality’.
It is my hope that we would see people live in the freedom of their God-given talents and capacity, that there would be an ALL focus, not the limitation of the one or two when you’re a five talent kind of servant. This is a ‘get out the box’ push to the ‘jacks’ out there: don’t limit yourself to one gift, one title: ‘worship leader’, ‘host’, ‘group leader’. Many people can be all of these and more, and I truly believe we will be better for it.
Picture by Paballo Thekiso