To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Matthew 25: 14-18)
We wonder why this generation is full of lost young souls, unsure of where they’re going in life, labelled as spoilt, written off as lazy. Yet it’s not the most Singaporean thing to believe we are each gifted in our own special way.
From the tender age of 9, we are continuously classified in the national education system and put in neat little boxes with labels such as “gifted”, “special” or “normal”. Not the best at this? I’m sorry, you’ve got to go in another box. You like something so specific? We don’t have a box for useless stuff like that. But there’s this other box you could try. It’ll probably earn you more money in time to come anyway.
By the time we try to get into the real world with our boxes, we’ve spent so much time being told we’re not as gifted, not as able and not as worthy, that only one answer remains: I don’t know what I’m here for. I don’t know who I am. But it says on the box what I can do. I guess that’s what I am. All I am.
But we don’t have to be stuck in this vicious, self-defeating cycle. Just like the servant who buried his one talent in the ground because there was no way he could produce as much as those who had more, we bury our God-given significance whenever we choose inferiority and inaction over investing in everything He has gifted us with to build His Kingdom.
So we look to God, to trade our boxes and sorrows for something better: Our self-worth.
Each of us is fashioned lovingly for a specific use – God’s use – at a specific time, place and purpose. Our unique composites as individuals – our personality, desires, interests, inclinations, strengths, weaknesses, even histories and life experiences – are like grooves in a key that opens a specific door, that door being our unique mission and destiny in life. No tool is the same, just as none of us has the same journey.
We have different strengths, inclinations, resources and social networks. We have talents of all shapes and sizes, some seemingly more, some visibly less. However, each and every worker was expected to reproduce something from whatever he had been given – even the one with just one talent.
Not a single tool is made by God for fun, not even the simplest of tools – definitely not the worker with one talent. Having fewer talents than someone else does not absolve you of the need to do something about the talents that you have. If you have been gifted one talent, then you are gifted. I am gifted. The Master has a plan for us.
Without knowing God, you go through life’s pains, successes, downfalls and miracles blind to the reasons for these experiences. Instead, well-meaning people will look for meaning and define their sense of being and worth in other things of the world and man-made institutions. But once you know, your spiritual eyes are open and a rested assuredness awaits for those who see their place in the grand scheme of things.
And then somewhere along the way, the signs of a fall from significance will become less obvious, as God redeems the lies planted in our minds. Swap “I wish I could” for “I can, through Him” and trade “I am not” with “I am, in Him” and you’re on the path to reclaiming your sense of worth.
You are so special. I am so special. In the Parable of the Talents, every worker was given at least one talent to do something about. Yes, some tools are made for larger purposes than others, to each according to his ability.
Let that guy with five talents produce his five more, and the girl with two talents produce her two more. Our significance never lay in the quantity of talents apportioned to us anyway. Placed in the Lord’s hands, he takes what little or much we have to give and blesses it – our whole lives – for use in His Kingdom.
So, do you still think you have no talent at all?