Talents. Our natural gifts or abilities, ranging from playing music, expertise in sport or writing articles. But why do talents matter? Why should we bother with thinking about them or even cultivating them?

It’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately. At the school that I attend, we  did a few surveys and tests to find out what our different strengths, weaknesses and talents were. Although the context was to help us pick what HSC subject to do, I was surprised (and not surprised) about some of the results it gave me.

These aptitude and talent tests cost money – and it struck me – why does the school bother spending money on tests like these? Why couldn’t the school just let us figure it out ourselves? Why would they put money, time and effort into setting these up for students? Because knowing our talents is vital to be able to live life to its fullest in serving God.

Now obviously not everyone’s raison d’etre is to serve God, but in any case, it’s important to consider what your purpose in life is and how your natural abilities and gifts fit into it. After doing a little research, I found that science says that talents are a mix of both genetics and the environment we live in. This means that your socioeconomic status and place in the world defines how talented you are. If you’re born rich and have good genes, you have a greater chance of being smarter.

I’d like to clarify that I’m not saying that your situation financially will not affect your cultivation of talents. It will almost certainly impact it. But that should not be the hindrance to us and be used as an excuse.

To a Christian, talents are not just a result of our situations and genetic patterns. Talents are a gift from God. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells of the parable of the talents. In the parable, there are three servants which are given different amounts of ‘talents’; one was given five, another given three and the last given one. Talents, in this case, aren’t literally talents as we know them. Talents were a monetary measurement, worth about 20 years’ wage of a labourer in Jesus’ time. The master basically asked the servants to cultivate and increase the money he had given them. At the end of a long time, the master came back to check with his servants and the servants with five and three talents had cultivated their portion well – this pleased the master. On the other hand, the one with only one talent became lazy and didn’t do anything. In the end, he was punished for not using the talents he was given, even though he only had one.

What can we learn from this? That God is a harsh master who forces us to do work? If we read this literally, that is definitely a conclusion that we could get to. But no, that isn’t what God is like. At the same time, however, it doesn’t mean we should slack around and not do anything about our God given gifts.

If we think back to ourselves, how can we work hard with the gifts that God has given us? In James 1:17, James writes that:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…”

God’s talents for us are good and for our benefit. We are encouraged to use them to their fullest, even though they are different in quality and quantity. As Romans 12:6 says:

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

It doesn’t matter who you are – every person has talents. At the same time, we all have a different number and types of talents, yet they are all still God given. No other talent is more important than the other.

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

– This article is inspired by Erin. There is something about you that inspires me to also do my best in my ministries. I’ve learnt from you to be grateful for the one or two talents God gives us. Always remember, no talent is ‘greater and more useful’ than another. Instead, we all work together as one body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–14)

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