Monday, September 1, 2014

Trusting Your Gifts

This Labor Day weekend I celebrated by watching several uninterrupted hours of US Open Tennis on TV.  One of my favorite players was playing - Scottish born Andy Murray, who is the 9th ranked player in the world, and who finally vanquished his Russian counterpart A. Kuznetsov in the fourth set.  As Andy was playing, American commentator, Jim Courier made an interesting comment.  He said;

"Andy has some big decisions to make in his future.  If Andy wants to have a long career, he will have to ease up on the hard work.  Andy is always working out very hard in the gym.  He's always pushing himself too hard and too far.  Andy works way too hard.  Andy always says; 'I win my games because of my hard work.'  But that's not true Andy wins because of his talent.  I sometimes think that Andy doesn't trust his talent enough.  Trusting your talent is one of the great keys to success in life."

As watched Andy Murray run around the court, I noticed Jim Courier's point being played-out (no pun intended), right before my eyes.  When Andy was smiling and seeming to enjoy the game, and his God given talent, he was winning.  When Andy was angry and upset and straining, and working, he was losing.  As he was trying to push himself beyond his own talent (when he was working), he was losing.

The distinction actually reminded me a little bit of the now old movie, "Chariots of Fire" which featured two excellent but very differently motivated runners.  There was Harold Abrams who was motivated by winning and excellence.  He often came in second.  Then there was Erik Liddel, the Presbyterian minister who was motivated by God and by God's gifts in him, and the pleasure of running.  He said, "I believe the Lord made me for a purpose.  He made me for the mission but he also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure."  In a sense, Erik was the most successful as a runner when he was enjoying the pleasure of God's gifts through him.

Christians often refer to talent as giftedness.  According to the apostle Paul, God gives all of us separate and important gifts; "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and still to another the interpretation of tongues." (1 Cor. 12:7-10).

Distinguishing (Discernment)
Interpretation (Understanding)

These are some of the gifts of God.  And there are many more that Paul doesn't list.  One of the keys to life is figuring out what our particular gifts are.  What is not often discussed or talked about is the equal importance of not only identifying our unique gifts, but ENJOYING THEM.  And trusting in them.

For example, if a person is given is given the gift wisdom, there is nothing that can make a person more wise through hard work.  Hard work might help us to gain more information, but not wisdom.  If a person is given the gift of faith, there is nothing in hard work that can make a person more faithful.  Hard work might be the application of faith, but it does not make us more faithful.  If our gift is in distinguishing (discernment), there is nothing in hard work that will make us more distinguishing.  A therapist, for example, might get more adept through many years of work, but not more distinguishing or discerning.  And so, we must simply take pleasure in our gifts and TRUST THEM.

One of my gifts, I have been told, is in public speaking.  Working hard on my speaking can make transitions more smooth, can make illustrations more relevant, can make connection points more alive, but it cannot make my speaking any better.  Speaking is a gift.  As I have grown older, I am learning, like Andy Murray, to trust that gift, rather than simply to work it to death.

So, that's my blogpost for this LABOR DAY weekend.  Less work.  Less Labor.  More Trust.  More Pleasure in our gifts and talents.

What gifts has God given you that you need to trust more today?

All For Now,

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