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Burying Our Talents Away
When the baby wakes for the fifth time in the night, or the elderly parent we care for experiences a health crisis, the last things we tend to think about are our spiritual gifts in the face of such physical need. As natural caregivers, it is not uncommon for women to focus primarily on nurturing others, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.
This desire to care for others is certainly admirable. Self-sacrifice is a tremendous expression of love, one that Jesus himself models in the Gospels. While this nurturing instinct is a good and beautiful part of who we are as women, it would nevertheless be a mistake to lose sight of the other special gifts and abilities that have been graciously bestowed upon each one of us. Those God-given spiritual gifts that we have received by the planning of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4) are not for us alone. Rather, they can be joyfully utilized for the benefit of others and reflected back in worship to the very Gift-giver himself.
We see in the parable of the minas (Luke 19:11–27) and talents (Matt. 25:14–30) that using our gifts for the kingdom of God is not something that can be regarded as “optional” or simply at our leisure whenever we have enough time to spare—it is a necessity. The servant who wasted his mina by burying it in the ground responded to the master with words of fear: “Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:20–21). These words are not those of a close relationship grounded in faith, but rather those of suspicion. It seems to be a barrier to deeper trust in our heavenly Gift-giver if we do not proactively use the resources that he has given to us.
If we ardently desire to have a deep, trusting relationship with God, then I think we all want to avoid the actions of this servant. From my own journey of studying how women can use their gifts, I quickly realized that there is no “how-to” answer that fits all of us. Since we are all a part of the body of Christ, we each have different gifts that can be developed and used in a multitude of ways (1 Cor. 12:12–26).
The most encouraging part of this journey is that the question has never been, “Do I have any gifts?” Instead, it has always been, “What gifts have my gracious Father given to me?” In a time when we are inundated with an almost constant stream of messages about the ways that we fail in the world’s eyes, the Creator of the universe also made us daughters, his female image-bearers on whom he bestowed many special gifts. We are not a weaker part of the body of Christ; we are indispensable to the mission of the church.
There are many seasons in a woman’s life where her ability to specifically develop her gifts and regularly put them into action can seem thwarted time after time. No matter how perfect the time management is, when a family member is sick and in need of care, all other commitments usually get placed on hold. The class must be skipped; the chores and cleaning must wait; a substitute must be found and apologies made. These temporary setbacks can be so discouraging that we give up the fight altogether. We lay down our arms and surrender, convinced that we will not serve or grow as we had hoped in such a busy or challenging season of life.
Just as we must gracefully fight for time in God’s Word and prayer, so too must we fight to use and develop our gifts in every season. This may be a season of prayer and study more than active service, but our gifts from God, just like our relationship with Him, are worthy of faithful tending. Not only does this train us to be ready for any opportunities that lie ahead, it also wards off the lie that our worth is measured by things that pass away, such as the homes that we keep or the jobs at which we labor and spin.
As the book of Ephesians says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). The Greek word translated as “workmanship” is not referring to coarse, hand-hewn tools and implements. Rather, the word is poiēma, from which we obtain the word “poem.” Paul is highlighting that each one of us is a stunningly beautiful work of art crafted by God. You display that breathtaking work of art—the poem, the song, composed by God—when you walk with the Lord Jesus and live as a uniquely gifted and indispensable part of the body of Christ. May we all redeem the days that we have graciously been given, for God’s glory both now and forever.
Anna Catherine Pistor is currently a part-time compliance professional and cares for her young children at home. She studied English literature and history at the University of Michigan. When she is together with her husband (Randy) and two sons, they love getting as dirt-covered as health codes will permit while playing outside. Her first book, Women’s Gifts, Women’s Roles, was just released this summer.
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 “Making us dignified, despite the indignities we visit on one another, is an ongoing spiritual process. That’s why the Bible describes each of us as God’s ‘workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works’ (Ephesians 2:10). The two words, workmanship and created, are not interchangeable. Workmanship is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means anything brought into existence or compiled by someone. It’s where we get the English word poem from. You and I—all of us—are God’s poem.” Abdu Murray, Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 115.
All scripture quotations are from the NIV.
Looking for more on spiritual gifts including how to identify yours? Check out this post.