— Judy Gustum
Flashback in your mind to your childhood: Remember the excitement you felt when there were presents to open? Maybe you get the same thrill today. Watch children on birthdays or at Christmas—they can hardly contain themselves! The paper is ripped off, and cards are nearly ignored as the child races toward what is hidden in the wrappings.
Can you imagine receiving a present and not opening it? This concept has been called “the tragedy of the unopened gift.” Our “unopened gifts” can also be called our unrealized potential.
Do you have unopened gifts? Unrecognized talents? Unrealized potential? God asks, “What will you do with the gifts I have given you?” In I Peter 4:10, I read, “Each has received a gift. Be generous with the different things God gave you, pass them around so all get in on it.” Now that is a clear call to Christian duty!
Do you recognize your gifts? Do you acknowledge your duty to share them? God calls us all. He has equipped us and expects us to contribute to the well being of our fellow humans. Our mission is to take the love God gives us and in concrete ways, share it with others. He wants us to look daily for opportunities to make the world less difficult for each other—by being the hands and feet of Jesus. Serving our neighbors is what God is calling us to do. It is why we are here. There is proof for us in Galatians 6:10. “Right now, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”
If you have not identified your talents or gifts, I challenge you to seriously examine yourself. Notice your aptitudes and abilities. Ask yourself:
Maybe, you need only cultivate and start to USE these talents. Consider that you will be happiest if you develop the talents you already possess, rather than trying to overcome your weaknesses in an attempt to become good at things for which you just don’t have an aptitude.
Believe that you, like everyone else, has God-given gifts and nurture them. And don’t be surprised when someone else thinks he or she has no gift. Help them look deeper. Encourage them. People are hungry for encouragement. If talents are already recognized, your goal might be to help them find ways to use their gifts on purpose.
Judy Gustum was one of the General Session speakers at the 2008 Conference on Care and Kindness. This article is an excerpt from her address, entitled, “The Secret of Delivering Hope.”