ColumnsNaming Grace

Doubling our talents

She directs operations with grace and style. She trains new employees on appropriate tasks. Her picture is framed on the side of a semi-truck, on a corporate wall and on promotional materials. Her smile radiates, and her laughter is infectious. She is a celebrity in her own right—exactly what it seems most people are seeking in our culture. Or, as in today’s Gospel, one would suspect Meghan is one of the lucky few who God has given five talents—and one who most definitely has doubled God’s investment in her.

Meghan was born with special needs. Shortly after birth, Meghan’s parents were told Meghan would never walk nor talk. Well, Meghan talks and talks, walks and walks, laughs and laughs. She works at her local Goodwill store, directing the mail cart, often “instructing” her supervisor. When meeting Meghan, one might foolishly think, “Poor Meghan, God gave her only one talent.” However, one quickly realizes Meghan is not to be pitied for she loves her life. Though also dealing with physical pain and medical challenges, Meghan exhibits joy while fulfilling her God-given purpose. She lives in the now: without angst for the future, regret of the past or need to prove herself. With the unconditional and sacrificial love of her family and the help of many care professionals, Meghan has taken her God-given talent—giving and receiving love—and more than doubled it.

This Sunday’s Gospel reflects on the talents God has given to each person and our responsibility to double those talents rather than bury them out of fear. “To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability.”

We are challenged to respond wholeheartedly to the gift of our specific talents: will we use them to love and serve others, to bring about a more just society and to further the kingdom of God?

My husband, Mike, often told our children, “Your talent is God’s gift to you, what you do with your talents is your gift back to God.” As parents and grandparents, we name grace—God’s enlightening presence—by guiding our children in the discovery, development and implementation of their talents to further the kingdom of God. We mentor our children by fully using our gifts, courageously stepping outside of our comfort zones and humbly rejoicing in other people’s gifts.

Erma Bombeck expressed her desire to drink to the last drop: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” Each of us was created to burn brightly through the oil of our salvation. Fear, envy and self-glory bury our talents, while prayer, discernment and trust in God unleash them—until our dying day.

Frederick Buechner steers us in discovering the sweet spot of service: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Our world hungers most deeply for love, and Meghan gladly meets that need through her smile and affection. Meghan has more than doubled—maximized—her talents, and I’m confident when she passes from this earth, those in heaven will rejoice, and she will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. … Come, share your master’s joy.” Now, that’s good news!

How is God calling you to use your talents?

What is one specific way you will help your child to develop his or her God-given talents?