The Parable of the Talents (Mat 25:14-30) is not the best name to give this teaching for an English speaking reader. Even when we know better, we associate this parable too much with human abilities and skills. That is only part of it!
Jesus is teaching his disciples that if they want to be ready for his return then they need to engage in the work of God’s Kingdom. How are they (and we) do that? By investing all that God has entrusted to them for that purpose.
“Talents” are better understood in broad terms that include abilities, spiritual gifts, personality, experience, opportunities, and passion. One more thing should be included, our new life in Christ. All of this together represents our Kingdom capital. This is what we invest in doing the good work that God has for each of us.
One of the things that slow us down in this enterprise is our uncertainty about our spiritual gifts. Although many of the gifts have continuity with our natural abilities (see Rom 12:6-8), some do not (see 1Cor 12:7-10). The latter ones are miraculous in nature. The question in focus is which gifts do we have?
A common approach is for an individual to take a spiritual gift inventory. That can help some, particularly if one is unfamiliar with spiritual gifts. Where inventories fall short, however, is in identifying gifts outside of our experience. These might be the gifts that are miraculous in nature but not necessarily so. As a young man, I had no experience in teaching and pastoring. I doubt these things would have shown up via an inventory.
I believe a better approach is prayerful experimentation with constructive feedback. Start by praying that God would bring to mind opportunities that are accessible to you in your current situation. Don’t delay because your life situation is not perfect. And don’t hold out for something more “exciting”.
Pray about the available opportunities. What resonates with you? What piques your interests? What moves you? Where does God seem to be leading you? Land on one and then engage wholeheartedly for a season. Be faithful, diligent, and mindful in the experiment.
I would encourage you to journal about your experience. Just write out your raw reactions. What is God teaching you? Are you seeing fruit? Do have a sense of fulfillment? Add to your own reflections feedback from people you trust and respect. Do they affirm you in this work? Do they confirm that your participation has been fruitful?
Don’t stress if your trial engagement shows you that this is not a current area of gifting. This kind of result never means you are not gifted! If you participated in the experiment as I have suggested you will have grown in your spirit and your self-awareness. The time will not have been wasted. Plus, you will have greater clarity from which to enter into another opportunity.
- Sermon: Gifted for the Common Good by Dave Pett
- Never Forget How God Has Shaped You for Ministry by Rick Warren
- How Do I Uncover My Spiritual Gifts? by Nancy Ortberg
- How To Discover Your Primary Spiritual Gift by Chip Ingram
- Spiritual Gift Survey by Lifeway
- Free Personality Test