Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Overcome fear and act upon it.

The text was Matthew 25:14-30. The homily was moving. I was personally moved by the homily. I heard this text preached many times and I heeded the words of the preacher (This comes from my Evangelical low church background, placing an emphasis on Sermon as a divine utterance.) However, on Sunday, I retook detailed mental notes. Reflecting upon the homily, I ask myself what gifts and talents do I acquire? Let's see. I can't sing. Strike Choir. I can play instruments only at home where no one can listen to my elementary chords. Strike Music. What have I done in the past that was really good and I enjoyed? Let's see. I have organized camps and retreats for children and college groups. I enjoy planning and organizing. I have recruited speakers and teachers to speak and teach at camps and retreats. I enjoy meeting speakers and teachers. I have recruited and trained volunteers to help me with camps and retreats and daily functions. I enjoy interacting with people. I have prepared, digested, and implemented new curriculum for children and evaluated curriculum for college group. I like reading new materials.

So I know what my talents and gifts are: administration and organizing. Now I ask myself what obstacle hinders me from using my talents and gifts?

You probably heard it before. "I am not good enough." "I don't have enough practice." I even mentioned above that I am not good at playing musical instruments so I strike music out of my talents. However, self-failure is not what is hindering me from using my talents. I have to admit that I am not lazy either unlike the man in the text with one talent. What I have is a failure of virtue: cowardice. I have fears. I fear that I may disappoint others. I am afraid that in a collective culture where "all for one and one for all" is the driving motto I may be blamed and accused for the responsibilities of other people. I am afraid of embarking on new a new journey because I do not know what the future holds for me. I have fear of the unknown. I am afraid to live and work with the world filled with marred and foible people. I have fears of people backstabbing and backbiting me. I am a coward like the man who said, "Master, I knew that you are a hard man.... So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground."

I have been curled up in a bag of fear for the past eight months. Perhaps I have been fearful longer than my knowledge of fear itself. So, I ask myself now: What can I do to overcome my fear?

Connect. We have heard it before. "Join a small group." "Connect with church people." "Introduce yourself to others." Connect with amiable, nice, caring people. Do not connect with backstabbers and backbiters, who inflict pain on other people. Instead be surrounded with teachers, trainers, leaders, producers, directors, and pastors. Know people and their names and make a list of good and marred people. Connect with good people and make friends with good people. Toss stuck up, conceited, backstabbing people around the corner. Nah! just kidding. That'll make one in the marred people list. Know backstabbing people, get their names, interact with them, but be careful around them and do not turn around when walking away. Always watch out for the one carrying a knife. Remove fear by connecting wisely.

Focus. Look toward the divine who gives talents. Do not look toward the people lest distraction may occur. Look up do not look around. Heed the words of the divine and not what others say about you. When focusing upon the works of God, on what he has done, what he is doing, and what he is going to do, we practice faith. God says to us, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Faith is the catalyst for communication with God. Without faith communication with God is impossible. Focusing on the one who gives talents eliminates fear.

How can I invest in my talents and gifts? In what ways can I continue to enhance what I have while serving others.

Time to work. Take a spiritual gifts assessment. Learn different kinds of spiritual gifts. Find out your gifts and talents. Journal on what brings you joy and contentment. Discovery and jot down top three gifts and talents. Go back to connect and focus. Connect with people who are trained to invest in talents. Speak with your leaders, coordinators, directors, and pastors. Tell them about your gifts and talents and what you can do for others. Try different types of work and encounter different possibilities.

Build character. What type of character develops when using gifts and talents? Stewardship. Using gifts and talents for the sake of others produces good stewards. While connecting with right people leads to the right path, investing in God given abilities sharpens character. Do not be like the man in the text who hid his talent. Use and enhance gifts and talents. Sing. Play an instrument. Greet people. Say kind words. Encourage. Uplift. Preach. Teach. Babysit. Help the poor. Feed the hungry. Give medicine to the sick. Care for the lost. Be a foster parent. Lend a hand to the recovery. Offer your shoulder to the divorcee. Listen. Empathize. Go on mission trips. Plan mission trips. Organize. When we use our abilities, we build our character of stewardship.

Investing in talents serves a purpose of interacting with the divine and interacting with others. Communication between the divine and human being increases faith and removes fear. Connection with right people proves ability to discern good and bad company. An active state is the key to change. The activity of a person defines character. What kind of person uses gifts and talents to bless others? A steward takes what is given and enhances abilities to better the self, be active, and serve others.

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