One of my favorite quotes regarding gifts and talents was penned by the author Dr. Charles Boyd. He stated, “Any strength pushed to an extreme can become a weakness” (2004). When considering the strengths God has given each one of us, we have to consider if we are us using our strengths as they were truly designed. I believe our gifts and talents are an integral part of our calling in life - that good plan God has for each of us. Furthermore, our gifts are designed to bless others.
Do you know anyone who is gifted and talented in a specific area, but can’t seem to get along with others or as many say, “play nice”? Many times that person has simply pushed his or her strength to the extreme. Let’s consider an individual who is gifted to lead. This leader has the gifts and talents needed in his or her life to successfully lead others. This leader can be direct and bold without fear- all characteristics needed for this person to lead. However, when boldness is pushed to the extreme it can come across as rudeness toward others. It can come across as being blunt and uncaring. So in this case, being too bold changes the very gift needed for success into a unwelcome weakness and many times a gift unaccepted by others.
The best way to be effective in a strength is to focus on operating that strength through love.
I Corinthians 13:4-5 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible states;
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs”.
For the idea of not being conceited, the Message Bible uses the phrase- “does not have a swelled head”. We probably all know dominant people- with true gifts to lead - who lead with swelled heads. They lead with a conceited attitude and thereby cause their strength to become a weakness. This is simply a picture of not walking out their gifting through the plan of God’s love.
What about an individual who has a gifting to help others? That sounds like a real strength! However, if helping is pushed to the extreme or not done in love, it becomes a hindrance to both the helper and the one being helped! The helper can start doing things his or her own way, being pushy, thinking only his or her way is correct and causing more problems than would have occurred if they didn’t even help. In this particular example, the strength of helping becomes a liability because it is not executed in kindness or patience. It is not done in love.
Another aspect that can cause a strength to become a weakness or liability is fear. When any part of life is lived out through fear, the result is never good. Martha gives a good picture of this truth. Being a person who also likes details, I always used to feel sorry for Martha. I mean, no question Mary chose the best thing- sitting at the feet of Jesus; but someone had to make sure the home was in order and the food was prepared, right?? In the back of my mind I would think...why didn’t Mary help her? Didn’t Mary care about any of those “things” that seemed so important to Martha? I would guess that Martha had a gifting or strength in the area of hospitality. It appears that perhaps in this particular event she pushed it to the extreme by maybe being fearful of what Jesus thought by focusing on how good the house looked, how great the food was, and why Mary wasn’t caring about these details. I believe Martha was upset because Mary wasn’t stressed, like she was! Fear can cause us to lose focus and use our strengths outside of the love walk.
I John 4:18 reminds us,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (NKJV).
We can love others by sharing our gifts and talents with them. We must never be afraid of any response from others; but rather be compelled to love.
Finally, each of us can find our best success when we share our strengths in love and when we celebrate each other’s gifts and talents by valuing them. By doing this, we not only find fulfillment, but also aid in helping others to walk out their callings.
Start today. See value in other’s gifts. Over celebrate those around you. And make sure you are using your gifting in love.
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