ome education theorists say that ” a child is born tabula rasa”. This means that they come with “blank slates” upon which the world can leave an impression, just like a blank canvas. Well, there is some element of truth in that theory. On the other side of the coin though, we do not come into this world “empty” as it were. We come into this world with an assignment. We come into this world to be “on mission”. The only “problem” is that the mission, assignment or purpose that we have been appointed to fulfill and deploy is not necessarily fully fashioned when we are born. It is already determined, but it needs something else to make sure that it is packaged for deployment–Stewardship.
I have found the subject of stewardship so fascinating. I dare say that stewardship is the bridge to our purpose in life. Yes, that purpose might have been determined but getting to it is normally never a straight forward thing. We have to go through interesting and adventurous twists and turns. In all this “process”, stewardship is what guarantees that you will get to your purpose. In other words, you could be on the path to purpose through those adventurous twists and turns, but if you will not be a good steward of what you have been entrusted with, you will not be gifted with your purpose. [ictt-tweet-inline]Stewardship is what makes us to be trusted and therefore be entrusted with our purpose[/ictt-tweet-inline].
In the past two articles, we have seen an in-depth sharing of the areas that we need to exercise great stewardship. I believe that if we are good stewards of these things, we will contribute towards the attainment of our own purpose in life.
Today, we shall discuss another area that is absolutely necessary in purpose pursuit. In fact, I believe that when it comes to stewardship, this one area is one of the most neglected in the whole wide world. This is the area of:
I believe that one of the greatest areas of stewardship is the area of our gifts and talents. To me, these are the greatest indicators or “hints” to what our purpose is. Isn’t it obvious that if you wanted me to be a motivating speaker, you will grant me with seeds of oratory skills that I should hone? That that is exactly it: our gifts and talents are an indicator of what we are supposed to do…but those gifts and talents also do not come fully formed. I shared the story of my writing prowess in primary school a couple of posts back:
So it so happens that those who have a gift of speaking like Martin Luther King Jnr, they end up living their purpose through that gift. Those who have the gift and talent of innovation end up living their purpose through deployment of that gift such as Steve Wozniak did. Those who have the special gift of entrepreneurship and smelling opportunities from a distance end up living their most rewarding life through expression of that gift like Steve Jobs did.
Jesus Christ gave a very telling teaching about this subject. In fact, he expressly talked about “talents”, although in the culture he lived, it signified money, or a resource. The gist of his teaching was that “talents” are given as a seed. Once “received”, the one bequeathed with it is given the responsibility of turning it until it is profitable. Jesus Christ spoke of people being given the talent “based on their ability”. The quantity/amount of talents given was not necessarily an issue. Stewardship though was. That is why the one who received 5 and the one who received 3 where given the exact same reward of stewardship, same to each other verbatim! The one who did not put his talent to work had it taken away from him and was termed “wicked”.
Stewardship is the process through which we turn our gifts and talents into genius. Bill Winston, the founder of Joseph Business School, if I can paraphrase him, describes the process of stewardship of our gifts and talents this way:
We always start with incompetence with our gifts. Then as we turn that gift and work it out, we get into another level of competence. But we do not stop there. We keep turning that gift and we are ushered into the realm of excellence. But we do not stop there either. We keep turning that gift and honing it and before you know it, we are into the realm of unique ability. As we keep turning that gift around, we suddenly get into the level of genius. And when you are a genius, the world will beat the path to you as you serve them with your gift.
Yet, before you can turn the gift, you need to “receive” it. Receiving the gift is akin to knowing and acknowledging that it does exist. This is where we all go wrong. There are two ways of looking at it. First, people are blinded by the misconception that natural gifts and talents are for those people in sports and Hollywood. Nothing can be further from the truth. Second, people do acknowledge their gifts and talents, but the pressures of the world make them abandon that gift for something that gives them “security”. They follow that which guarantees income at the end of each month, and a retirement package at the end of 65 years. This is the greatest hindrance to pursuit of gifts and purpose–seeking comfort and security.
Stewardship of our gifts will have to take into account that it takes time, blood, sweat and tears to become genius. It has to take into account that flashes of brilliance do not put food on the table. Genius does. However, we do not receive the gift because we are scared of the discomfort and the not institutionalized way that we can gain from this gift.
All in all, one of our greatest regrets here on earth will be the failure to turn our gift into genius through the process of stewardship. We shall pick this discussion up in the next post.