You’ve probably heard the parable of the talents many times. In Matthew 25, we read that a master gave talents to his three servants. One servant had five talents, one had two, and one had one. Mr. Five Talents put them to good use and became Mr. Ten Talents. Mr. Two Talents did the same and became Mr. Four Talents. Mr. One Talent was fearful and lazy, hid his talent, and his master had his talent taken from him, and the unprofitable servant was cast into outer darkness.
Yikes. But no matter how we may perceive what abilities God has given to us, we ought to use it for His glory.
Did you know you can steal glory from God? Okay, no you can’t actually diminish from His glory, but you can try to put all the attention on you instead of God, trying to attract glory for yourself rather than give it all to Him.
When you’re serving in ministry, it’s not about you – it’s about God and others. It’s about the Kingdom. But when you’re in the middle of doing something in the Kingdom, something you may be very good at, and someone gives you a compliment, it can be hard for your flesh to resist letting that go to your head. If you’re not careful, you’ll start chasing after compliments.
Your talents are not your own. They are God’s gift to you, and they belong to God.
There are three types of approaches you can have when it comes to using your talents in the Kingdom, but many often lean toward one extreme or another.
Approach 1: Look at me.
This is the narcissistic, self-serving approach. When you feel yourself taking pride in “your” accomplishments and talents, and when you start chasing after glory for yourself, you’ve just made an idol of attention, fame, and popularity.
Glory-chasers care more about being seen than serving. Attention-seekers care more about open doors and new opportunities than simply working in their local church. When all you care about is being elevated, you develop a prideful and arrogant spirit.
Solomon warned about pride many times in Proverbs. Proverbs 16:18 states that pride goes before destruction, and Proverbs 27:2 tells us to “let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth.”
One of the things God hates is a prideful spirit, and He cannot bless something that is contrary to His Spirit.
Having an eagerness to serve and be used is good. Wanting the spotlight on yourself to gain praise and attention is not. The opposite of this extreme is similar to the issue of the one-talent servant – not putting your talent to good use.
Approach 2: Look at them.
Ugh. They’re so much better than me. What’s the point? I’m no good.
This is also self-serving because it still puts your attention on yourself as you hide your talents because you convince yourself you’re not as good as so-and-so. This approach involves our obsession over everyone else’s apparent success in comparison to our weaknesses.
Maybe you’ve got the one talent only, and you think, ugh, so-and-so has five talents. I’ll never have that many. Might as well just sit on the pew. What good am I?
Or maybe you think you have no talent. Well, believe it or not, it’s not about what you think about yourself. It’s about being willing to serve in the Kingdom.
Perhaps you’re feeling down about not being as talented as someone else. Perhaps you’re struggling just to do what you can. But then someone comes up to you and tells you how your ministry and willingness to serve has blessed them. And then it hits you: this is why. This is how you can be used in the Kingdom even if you think you’re not that talented or useful. You might think you’ve got these limitations, but when you’re moving and operating under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, God can move and touch people through your willingness to serve.
You don’t have to be the best, but you have to be anointed. And then God can use you for His glory to reach and minister to others. And that brings us to the third approach.
Approach 3: Look at God
This is the correct approach, putting all the attention on God rather than trying to get it for yourself or hide your God-given abilities. This is the approach that says, “God, I just want YOU to be glorified. I just want YOUR will to be done in me. I just want to do whatever YOU want me to do.” The person who operates with this approach is willing to serve no matter what.
Maybe you can cook. Serve in the kitchen ministry. Maybe you’re good at gardening. Help with the upkeep of the church lawn. Maybe you can take pictures. Do photography for the church. Maybe you’re good at media or graphic design. Help with the slides on the media team for services or create logos and graphics for your church’s social media page.
Maybe you’re just really great with people and always have a smile on your face. Become a church greeter. Maybe you don’t really know yet what you’re great at, but you just want to help out. God can use your desire to serve in whatever capacity is needed in the Kingdom. Whether you’re cleaning, cooking, teaching, singing, playing an instrument, greeting guests at the door, serving as an usher, helping with church planning, decorating for special services, or taking pictures every service, you can become a vital part of the Kingdom by just being willing to help out wherever help is needed.
We ALL have at least ONE thing we can do for God and for others. And here’s the thing about using that one thing for God: when you’re faithful with that one thing, God will bless your faithfulness. You may go from just helping clean the church to working in the kitchen, too. Then, you might find yourself saying, “You know, I can help decorate for the Easter program.” Then, someone might ask for your help with teaching Sunday school as a backup. And before you know it, you’re doing multiple things in the Kingdom all because you were willing to serve with just that one talent.
Be a faithful steward of the abilities God has given you. Be eager and willing to serve. Find ways to serve more. Put effort into improving the abilities God has given you. And remember that it isn’t about you. If you pair prayer with commitment and sacrifice in your ministry, then God will reward and bless and strengthen you even if it’s just through personal growth rather than through open doors to serving in a larger capacity.
Want to grow in using your abilities for God? Be faithful. Be willing. Be humble. Be a servant.