The other day Todd and I were having a conversation about the devotional books I am writing. I said something to him that seemed to catch him off guard. (How this could possibly get by him in 33 years of marriage I don’t know…but there’s that!)
I told him that I had ‘zero’ confidence in myself.
That revelation came about as we were discussing a new devotional I’m working on, and how it fits with our ministry. He’s a strategic thinker, and he’s already counting the cost of printing more devotionals, and how we will get them into people’s hands, so they don’t just sit on the shelf. Now I appreciate my thinker-husband. (I know…he’s such a talker you wouldn’t know he’s a thinker!) But when he says things like that, my natural feelings of inadequacy automatically kick in, and I hear the voices in my head saying, “Well, why don’t you just stop writing? Other writers are more talented and can communicate more effectively. There’s no reason for you to be doing this.”
Of course, this is not what he was communicating at all. I just jumped to a wrong conclusion, based on my feelings. We talked it out, and I admitted (maybe for the first time out loud) how insecure I am about myself and any ability to write or serve or lead or teach. Pretty much, there’s an inner battle raging at any given time inside my head and heart: a battle between the weakness of the flesh and the strength of God’s Spirit.
Are we supposed to have confidence in ourselves? Paul says in Philippians 3:3 we should put no confidence in the flesh. Here is talking about the worthlessness of our works in relation to the treasure of knowing Christ, that any accomplishment on our part pales in comparison. I know this very well. I could write a best-selling book and make lots of money, but if it only brought attention to me, and gave me worldly success, it would be meaningless. Only when our work gives glory to God does it take on meaning.
Feelings of inadequacy are a good thing when they cause us to recognize that God is fully adequate!
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 tells us how to handle inadequate feelings. Briefly, here’s the story.
The master goes on a journey, but before he leaves, he entrusts three of his servants with his possessions. One receives five talents, one receives two talents, and the third receives one talent. These were given according to their ability. In other words, the master knows his people, and distributes the responsibility for the talent based on their ability to manage it.
Two of the servants immediately go and “invest” their talents, with the result of 100% increase. The five becomes ten, the two becomes four. But the one with the least talent buries it. Literally, he digs a hole and hides what was entrusted to him.
When the master returns, after a long time, he calls them to account for what he has given them. The two who invested their talents are commended as faithful servants and given more responsibility. But the one who hid his talent is reprimanded as wicked and lazy and loses his position as a servant.
What’s the moral of the story? Here’s two lessons that I can see in this parable.
The talent belongs to the master.
The original meaning of the Greek word translated as “talent” is “something weighed.” In other words, it’s something that belongs to the master that “tips the scales” on your account. We can call it a gift, or special ability, or simply, a talent in the modern sense of the word. The key to remember is that it belongs to the master, not us. We are simply the steward of the talent, and we will one day be called to give an account of how we used what was placed in our possession. We are not given talents to bring glory to ourselves; we are to invest them so that the master benefits.
The “amount of return” is irrelevant.
The wicked servant was told that he could have at least put his money in the bank to receive interest, even if he was afraid he would lose by investing it. Talents are distributed according to the ability of the one who receives it. God has not gifted us to be in competition with one another. He calls us only to be faithful with what we are given.
You see, it doesn’t matter if I feel inadequate or insecure. The issue is, will I be faithful to use the talent that I believe God has given me, and leave the return on my investment to Him?
It doesn’t matter if there are a thousand others in the world who can speak more eloquently, write more beautifully, communicate more effectively, teach more powerfully, or serve more passionately. It only matters that we are faithful to do what God lays on our side of the scales.
I call this recognizing my own little corner of kingdom work and offering it up to God as a sacrifice for Him to do whatever He wants to do with it. I’m just one voice. You are too. But as faithful servants of the Master, we must set aside our feelings of inadequacy and trust that the Master has given us exactly what He knows we are capable of doing.
What has God placed on our scale?
How will we steward it so that it brings the Master a return?
Will we have Spirit-led courage, or will we dig a hole and hide what is entrusted to us?
Something to think about!
Philippians 2:13 – For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.