After my mom died, her friends and acquaintances recounted how she had impacted their lives. They shared how selfless she was, how diligently she served her church, how she would take her time to remember the smallest details in their lives. I knew my mom was a very special lady, but hearing it from so many amplified what I already knew about my mom.
But two instances I haven’t been able to forget. They were each from men, both pastors who knew my mom at different times in her life. In each interaction, their voices caught as they remembered her. Overcome by emotion, they had to pause to compose themselves.
I remember speaking to my husband about this when we were driving home after Mom’s funeral. I asked him why he thought my mom had such an impact on these men of God. He replied, “Your mom had so many qualities that even the most godly of men strive for.”
Yes, my mom was a special lady.
What, then? I thought. What do we do, seeing this example of godly servanthood right before our eyes? How does it impact our own lives and kingdom work?
Unfortunately, for most of us, we admire from a distance but go on with our lives as usual. The godliness we observed seems unattainable. So we don’t even try. It’s easier to not make an attempt at what seems impossible than to try and fail.
It brought to mind the parable of the talents. We may dismiss the fact that the king gave different amounts of talents to three different people, but I think we can relate more than we think.
We admire people with ten talents at a distance. We wish we could be like them, to serve like them, to be admired like them…and we silently bemoan our one measly talent, if we recognize it at all. If we can’t be like that person, we’ll give up and bury that talent as if it’s good for nothing and simply go about our lives.
If we’re not careful, we can become content in the big pond, living in obscurity. We sink back and observe at a distance, praising others’ areas of gifting. Meanwhile, our one talent sits buried in the sand, unused.
Nothing New Under the Sun
I remember recently hearing someone talk to writers about how whatever subject I write about has been written about before by someone else. But no one has written it from my perspective, and there are people who have never heard it at all and won’t hear it unless it comes from me.
The point is, none of us — not the one with ten talents or the one with one — is all that unique, but on the flip side, if each of us doesn’t do what we can with what we’ve been given, someone will miss out.
Talk about Feeling Small
I’ll never forget going to a wedding reception at a high floor of a Dallas skyscraper. I was a young small-town girl, enamored by the wall-to-wall windows with the bird’s eye view. I gazed down to the streets at people as numerous and as small as ants.
Suddenly, I felt tiny myself.
What difference does my existence make in this huge world?
It’s a humbling yet freeing thought, this mysterious paradox. We’re not all that special, yet at the same time we are.
And it’s easy to look around and see people with all the talents and look at our own incomparable endowment and shrink back.
But no matter how many talents we’ve been given, they’re given for a purpose and our Master expects us to use them.
A small fish in a big pond? Yes.
A small fish with an invaluable role, a gift, set among people who need it. If we bury it because we’re not like another we admire, we don’t know who will suffer, who will miss out.
Use your talent; don’t bury it. You’re a part of something big. Embrace it. Own it. Multiply it.
In the End
Most people don’t realize how insecure my mom was in many areas of her life. She lacked confidence in situations you or I may not blink an eye. But she recognized where she was gifted or blessed, took what she had, and used it.
To her, it didn’t matter how big or small the pond was. Or how big or beautiful the fish around her were. To her, it mattered most that she used what she had been given.
And I’m positive some of the first words she heard was, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”