There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (Corinthians 12.)
God skills us. He makes us. He gifts us with talents. Sometimes we are born with amazing skills that can be nurtured. Other things, we are not so great at - but we ENJOY.
My two elder girls belong to a dance school. We've spent much of the months in rehearsal, and were up TOO late last night for the last show. The girls are different in their attitude to dancing, and their aptitude. One does ballet, the other modern theatre. They both had the moves down, pretty much. They enjoyed it in different ways. One froze but picked it up later on. One is the youngest in her group but holds it together nevertheless. They both loved being in costume and having 'proper' makeup (actually quite subtle but necessary with those stage lights.) There are friends backstage they know from dancing, most who are at church and school too, but with whom they have a special camaraderie.
One girl (young woman, I should say) gave a special performance last night - a sequence of 'flashbacks' to when she was 3, then maybe 8, then 12 perhaps - the dances she has performed over the years. She's now off to study dance professionally at a prestigious school, and her performances last night were faultless. But she was one amongst many, and the company worked together as a team. Eldest to youngest. Most professional to most amateur. Largest to skinniest. Most capable to just holding it together. They come from many different backgrounds. No one who tries hard and turns up for classes is excluded. Not everyone looks fantastic. But as a whole, they put on an amazing show.
People have been reminding me about Paul's 'parts of the body' speech in Corinthians 12 this past week in terms of my own contribution to community and ministry. But the dance show said it all, really. Not everyone has to be blessed with the most amazing natural gifts to succeed at and enjoy something. Nor do we don't need to be Tiger Moms and drive our children crazy making them practice at something they hate (my 6 year old loathed the rigidity of ballet but embraced the freer modern dancing; she may give this up in the future too, but it's given her improved posture and confidence.) But God wants us to have something that we enjoy, that will challenge us, stretch us (and our parents!) and teach us new skills - how to be patient, focused, how to get through a quick costume change, how to help others get ready and on stage. How to appreciate each others' talents, work together as a group, learn to love music more, and see how taking instruction can bring out the best in us.
And I think it's the same the world over, really. God has an image of how we can be, how our potential can be drawn out, so we can be the person He has in mind. But this doesn't necessarily mean focusing on one vocation or career. We are all given multiple talents, to multiple or lesser degrees. They can all be nurtured, enjoyed and used, even if we never get much better at them.
So let's celebrate them. The people who like to bake even though their cakes may be wonky. The singers who love to join in but may be a bit shy or need encouragement to realise they don't need to have the strongest voice. The children who are shy going on stage at first but are helped on by a selfless elder girl.
God wants us all to step up and try, to make use of our abilities. Just because we aren't the best at something, it doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. Let's take the Parable of the Talents literally. He doesn't want us to hide our light under a bushel. Even, I think, the lights within in us that shine a little dimmer than the rest. The things within us we daren't do because we don't do them perfectly. He wants us to try, even if we fail a few times. And I'm not even talking about it getting us into the kingdom of heaven yet - it's about being who He wants us to be, here on earth.