CHAS was having a rotten day. And it should have been a great one. He was at Scout camp. He was on the lake in a canoe, all by himself. While that should have been the good part, actually it was the bad part. He was supposed to be paddling straight across the lake by himself. But all he could make the canoe do was go around in circles. What's worse, some of the other Scouts could see him-- even some Girl Scouts! But then Chas remembered that he could pray.
There's a talent story in the Bible that Christ Jesus once told. It's in Matthew's Gospel (25:14-30). Maybe you know it. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was like a man who was taking a long journey and gave his servants his belongings to take care of while he was gone. Now, the talent the Bible is referring to is an amount of money. But the story makes clear that the differences between the servants weren't just in the amount of money they were supposed to look after, but were in their ability to do a good job with what they had. Two of the serv-ants used the talents well, and when the lord returned he gave them more. One got scared and didn't use what he'd been given. That servant had his talent taken away. The message is plain: When you use your talents and abilities rightly, don't be surprised to see them increase.
Talent the way we're used to thinking of it today as a skill or ability really isn't something we're just born with. Or without. Seen spiritually, it's something God, the source of all good, gives us. And no one gets left out. Everyone has God-given talent. Soul is the name for God that relates to ability and artistry. The more we see Soul, God, as the source of all talent and ability, the more confident we'll be in using that talent--and seeing it grow.
Maybe we're not the best dancer or guitarist or ball player in the world. But we each have intelligence, creativity, strength, love. These qualities have a spiritual basis, are derived from Soul. When we put them to work, they grow--and other talents we didn't even know we had come to light.
When you get a big head, though, and feel as if you're more talented than anyone else, you're often in for a big surprise. Or even a big flop. It takes more than human talent to do a good job. If we want to be successful, it takes sincere effort. That's true whether we're talking about drama or music or sports or academics. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, said in her Message to The Mother Church for 1900: ``Sincerity is more successful than genius or talent'' (p. 9). That sincere effort helps our talents shine more brightly.
What do we sincerely want to use our talent for? How about praising God! What if every time we were about to compete in sports, or perform on stage, or write a paper we first made a prayer. Our prayer could be a quiet thing. Just taking a moment to remember that it is God, Soul, who gives us strength and ability and intelligence. Then the activities we do won't be just for the purpose of making us look good, but will be for the purpose of praising God. And we'll be expressing the ability of Soul.
Chas never did get across the lake that day. But he found out afterward that all the others were also trying so hard to make their canoes go straight that they didn't notice his circles. Not even the Girl Scouts. Since then he's learned how to canoe. But he's even happier that he's learned that when you take whatever talent you have, even if it seems small at first, and use it to glorify God, the talent grows and grows.