It seems to have become acceptable in Christian circles to say things like, “I’m waiting for God to direct me as to my next move” or “I can’t do this without God, so I really need to pray about this some more.”
While there is often truth in these statements, perhaps you, like me, have grown tired of hearing clichés like this tossed about constantly. Or perhaps you recognize yourself saying something similar to this, and aren’t sure what the problem is.
In Matthew 25:14-30, there is the parable of the master who gives his servants bags of gold and asks them to invest the gold for him. This parable is often called the “Parable of the Talents,” and it is aptly named because the bags of gold are not meant to represent money but rather resources.
Before we were born, God carefully and consciously selected for us resources for our lives’ journeys. These resources include our distinctive personalities, our amazing brains and the way we think, our heart and our passions, worldly talents we can use to create a livelihood for ourselves and various spiritual gifts.
Like the last servant in the parable, we sometimes take the resource given to us and hide them in the ground. When the servant was called to account over why he hadn’t invested the resource given to him and returned it with interest, his response was “I was afraid” (Matthew 25:25). If we are honest with ourselves, this is often why we neglect using the resources God has given us—because we too are afraid.
What are we afraid of? We’re afraid of failure, of making mistakes—because so many of us still have this mental image of an old, stern, white-haired God sitting in the clouds keeping a tally of our wrongdoings all day.
So instead of moving forward, we say “I’m waiting for God to tell me what to do,” because then if it doesn’t work out it isn’t our fault. Or perhaps—even worse—we don’t ever make a firm commitment to anything and keep sitting on the fence, thinking, “I can’t get it wrong if I don’t commit myself one way or the other.”
This latter option is the one the final servant took. When his master found out what he had done, he replied, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (Matthew 25:26). If this seems like a harsh reprimand, consider this: The one talent that the servant received was said to be the equivalent of about 20 years’ worth of wages for a day laborer at that time.
This is how much God gives to us in spiritual resources for our life: the value of 20 years worth of wages! We are born into a state of such abundance, so though we should rely on God for power and strength, we should not mope around like helpless victims who need step-by-step instructions from God.
God is the ultimate creative being—the one who made the beauty of the entire universe and the awe-inspiring intricacies of the human body—and He is asking you to be creative too, to recognize that you can claim the resources given to you, and create masterpieces, too.
No masterpiece can be created without a risk, without the boldness and willingness to be wrong, to learn as you go and to claim your own power and admit your own responsibility. What we don’t realize is that God expresses Himself through us, but if we are not moving, we aren’t allowing Him to use us.
So how can we step up and live from a place of personal responsibility, not spiritual victimhood? There are three simple things each of us can do starting today that will help create this vital paradigm shift.
Firstly, change the way you pray. Pray humbly, but from a place of empowerment rather than lack. This is a fine line to walk, but what I mean is rather than asking God to tell you exactly what steps to take, thank Him for the wisdom He has already given you, and ask for discernment as you move forward. And then move forward in faith. This is the prayer of a child of God who is claiming their inheritance and birthright, and it is the prayer of someone who is choosing to be accountable for their actions.
Secondly, share your good works with the world. Although God is constantly speaking to us, we do not need to have moment-by-moment instructions from Him to know His will. Galatians 5:22-23 has already outlined for us what the fruit of the spirit look like: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Note the second part of that text: against such things there is no law. This means that if we are acting in accordance with love, kindness and self-control, for instance, we can be assured that we are doing God’s will, whether or not God directly spoke to us and specifically told us to take that action.
Thirdly, don’t allow yourself to get paralyzed looking for your “calling.” By all means pray, but don’t let your praying trap you into a state of paralysis. Instead sit down over coffee with a close friend or a career counsellor and make a list of what you are passionate about and what you are good at (friends are especially useful here, as often they can more readily identify our skills than we can). Then look at the common themes between what you are passionate about and good at, and think of how you could use them to address a community or world problem.
Once you do this, you will be overwhelmed with options for all the amazing ways you can start to make the world a better place and share God’s love. Then start something, anything!
There are already enough Christians burying their talents in the ground where they can’t be seen or used. Let’s start a new trend: one where Christians are known as people of action and change and living demonstrations of their faith. Who’s in?