Of Talents

“I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress.”

-Jane Austen

If Jane Austen thought this of herself, where does that put me? Jane Austen is practically a heroine in the world of literature. However, if she truly believed herself to be uninformed and unlearned, she was indeed brave to write anyway. Perhaps there is a lesson in this for us. 

We all have talents. Some of us write; some of us sing; some of us draw and paint. Everybody has a talent, a gift, something they’re good at. If you don’t recognize your talent yourself, someone close to you is sure to be able to point it out. It may not be a popular talent- for example, you may have the gift of being a charming hostess, or maybe you’re really good at encouraging those around you. 

Sometimes we are reluctant to make good use of our talents because we feel insecure about ourselves. We see ourselves compared to other people, and we may certainly feel “unlearned and uninformed,” naive, ignorant, less than… Does anybody really feel completely secure about themselves? If we allow these feelings to control us, we are not being good stewards of our God-given gifts. We have so much to give to the world, to contribute to the lives of the people around us. 

It takes courage to rise above the feelings of insecurity. Maybe that’s why Jane Austen used the phrase: “dared to be.” We must be brave and use our talents. Being brave will always require us to step out of our comfort zones. So- sell that painting, host that tea party, write that story, bake that layer cake. Take it a level deeper- help that homeless person, talk to that stranger about grace, give an invitation to that lonely person, spend that hour in prayer. Become uncomfortable. You will grow in the process. Do the things you’re scared to do. 

I certainly have insecurities. I would definitely benefit from taking my own advice. However, then there is a whole other aspect to using our talents that would be good to look into. It is not good to drown in insecurities and hide away our talents. On the flip side, it is also not good to think so highly of ourselves and our talents, that we fall into the sin of pride. If I am to be honest here, I should say that I can be a crazy mix of the two problems. I can be both insecure and prideful. I can feel both inferior to and superior to other people. That is the truth, and it is ugly, but there you have it. We are sinful people, whether or not we want to admit it.

Back to the talents, though. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if you and I could discover the secret to bravely using our talents, yet realizing that, ultimately, those talents are not of our own doing, but are bestowed upon us by God, therefore, He should be the One getting the glory? If we did nothing to acquire our gifts, we should be willing to give the credit for those gifts to the One who gave them. Let’s strive to walk in confidence and in humility!

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