We do what we like. So why can't we like what we do?
When my first book came out, I went right on Goodreads and gave it a 5-star rating.
"Hmm. Really, Tracy, you think you're that good?"
I don't remember who offered that sentiment, but as you can see, it stuck with me. My finished, published book came from much toil. Writing was fun! Finding the right publisher and getting it accepted was less fun. Going through the editing process - wow. Talk about work. First word written to book in hand took about a year and a half, two editors, and more re-reads than I can count. A lot of work went into the final product. Of course, I like it!
But is my own favorable opinion conceited?
I've spent some time thinking about it. Here's what I've decided.
There is a place for humility, and there is a place for recognizing God's gifts. Humility is simply recognizing that God is greater. If you recall, the purpose of man is give God glory. How do we do that? By praising Him for who He is and what He has done or created.
He created each one of us. Beyond that, He has blessed us with gifts and talents that can be creatively and uniquely used to draw man's attention to Him.
Do you remember the parable of the talents? (Matthew 25:14-30). A master was going away, so he gave his money to his servants to care for while he was away. One was given 5 talents, one was given 2, and one was given 1. (Talents were a form of money.) The one with 5 worked with it to gain 5 more; the one with 2 worked to gain 2 more; the one with 1 took his and hid it until the master returned. The worker who buried his talent was chastised by the master. The two servants who worked hard with their talents were told the words we all long to hear someday - "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
You were given a talent too. You were meant to use it, not shamefully bury your head and hide it. When you use the talent God has given you and then deny it - "No, no, it's not that good. Really, I stink." - that's what you are doing. Burying your talent.
What are the rules, then? What are you supposed to think about your work?
1. Recognize the source of your talent
All I can give you here is my story.
So, I wrote some books. To be honest, I feel like the ideas came to me as an answer to prayer.
I started writing many years ago, and I really liked it. Then, I was inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved the idea of a modern re-telling of Christ's sacrifice in a way that was appealing to kids and adults. I loved that C.S. Lewis could almost bring to life creatures not found in reality. I wanted to do that too.
So, while I was out running, the wheels in my mind were turning. The first thing I wanted to come up with was the un-real creature to be central in my story. Almost instantly, something from the Bible came to mind - the Nephilim. The Nephilim were the result of fallen angels intermingling with human women. What if they still existed today? (They don't, but that's why it's fiction.) And since these Nephilim (who I renamed "angelmen," for the sake of ease) were not part of the human race, they did not have the same salvation plan as humans and needed a new one if they were to have any hope of making it to heaven. And that salvation plan would require a sacrifice.
Boom. We have the basis for my books, as I feel was given to me as an answer to prayer with a principle from the Bible.
2. Think how you can use it to give God glory
Writing is an easy one. I use my writing to bring focus on God. God is a major part of my stories. Song-writing or performing is likewise easy to use for God's glory. Taking pictures of God's creation is a wonderful way to use His general revelation.
But what if you are good at math or sports? You make jewelry or scrapbooks? You sell cars? This is where you need to use your creativity. And yes, even if you don't think you have any, it's there. God would not have called you to something that He doesn't plan to use to further His kingdom.
Here are a couple of examples from my life. I am very good at remembering dates. Seriously, give me just about any friend, family member, or child in church (don't worry - I'm the Sunday school director, so I have a reason for the last one) and I could tell you their birthday. How does this glorify God? Everyone needs encouragement on their birthday. Although I have given up the easy little "Happy Birthday" on Facebook, (it just creates more work for that person) I'll pray a blessing for that person.
Or how about this one? I can bathe my children, even washing their hair, without them crying. I must say, this isn't always a treat, since the kids always need me to be the bath person. But it is a chance for my kids to learn trust. Something that will be essential to their faith.
If you can take a minute, I would love to read about your interesting gifts in the comment section below.
3. What if your talent is difficult to use for God?
First of all, make sure your talent IS something God-given. The world has a lot to offer. I don't think God is calling too many people to the likes of gambling or other sins. If you are Rain Man, you better find a better way to use that genius than running off to the casino to count cards. If you can't come up with a way for your talent to glorify God, then what you have is not a God-given talent.
4. When should you be humble?
Always. Humility in promoting your talent just means using the right words so that people aren't thinking about you. Humility is lifting God up, not putting yourself down. Simply recognize God's rightful place above you (and your work).
5. At what point are you bragging?
Easy. The very minute you take credit for anything for which God is responsible. When you find yourself saying any of these sentences, you're in trouble.
"I knew I could do it. I believed in myself."
"I never doubted my ability."
"I expect to put up a lot of sales because of how hard I work."
"I did it my way."
(See why I don't like Frank Sinatra?)
6. Does this mean you don't need to work hard?
Of course not. The parable of the talents is a great example of how God urges us to use what He has given us. The servant given 5 talents worked to turn it into 10. But James 1:17 reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. The work you do shows God that you are thankful for what He has done for you. But always remember Who got you started.
The bottom line is if God gave you something good, it's okay to like it. If you like it, it's okay to say so. It's possible someone else might like it too.
By the way, if you would like more information on my books, go here: http://protectthecause.weebly.com/about-the-angelmen-series.html
Passion Under Grace,