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No One’s Good At Everything

My oldest son Anthony enjoyed wrestling . . . until he lost. The fact that I was the one teaching him—someone who went 3 and 2 in high school, with 2 of my victories coming by way of forfeit from my opponents—probably didn’t help. Nevertheless, after experiencing loss, he didn’t want to wrestle anymore. If he couldn’t be the best, he didn’t want to continue. (Whether the apple falls far from the tree in this matter will not be discussed.) Moving on!

The fact of the matter is that we want to succeed in our ventures, whatever those ventures might be. But what happens when we fail? More to the point, what happens when we fail, but those around us succeed? How do we cope with others who are better than us at something? Maybe they’re better athletes; maybe they’re better salespeople; maybe they’re better parents; maybe they’re better students, teachers, preachers, pastors, leaders—whatever. My question is: How do we cope with this?

Do we pause and thank God for their gifts and contribution to the church and the world? Or do we harbor resentment and jealousy, all the while perhaps experiencing what poet Jane Kenyon once referred to as “that cheerless satisfaction we sometimes feel when others fail.”[1]

We’re All Gifted at Some Level

As a Christian, my mind goes to Jesus’ Parable of the Talents, found in Matthew 25:14–30. Whether or not the point of the parable has to do with “spiritual atrophy,” is not my point here.[2] The fact remains that God has gifted people differently. Not only does he bestow spiritual gifts on people, he also blesses each person—whether Christian or non-Christian—with certain abilities. This means we won’t be great at everything we do. We’ll have more success at certain things than at others. Whether we have one gift or five gifts, the questions remain: First, do we acknowledge God as the giver of the gift? Second, do we ask God for grace to cultivate the gift? Third, do we carve out time in our day-to-day lives to develop the gift(s) he’s given us?

In addition to the Parable of the Talents, my mind also turns to the young boy in John 6 who brings five loaves and two fish to Jesus (Jn. 6:9). In the context of the passage, he’s set in sharp contrast to the fumbling disciples who aren’t sure how to feed the famished crowd.

Please forgive my overly simplistic application, but I’ll venture to say that this youngster is an example to us. The issue isn’t how much we have; the issue is bringing what we have to Jesus and trusting him to multiply our gifts and bring fruit.

Some of This Comes Down to Personality

I’m convinced that some of this simply comes down to personality. God wires us each differently. Sure, some of us probably know an all-around exceptional individual who seemingly succeeds at everything. Perhaps we men know a guy who fixes cars, toilets, AC units, and still manages to chop wood for the fire place, all the while taking banjo lessons—and he sings like Michael Bublé to boot. Personally, I have a strong distaste for such men, since I can’t compete with them. (Hence this blog!)

As someone with minimal gifts, I’m learning that I simply must take what I am and what gifts I have and bring them to the Lord and trust him to make something out of my life. My guess is you feel the same way. May we ask God to give us a spirit of adventure and enthusiasm as we continue on the journey of life. Thankfully, as David Gibson says, life is gift, not gain.


[1] Jane Kenyon, “The Way Things Are in Franklin,” in Otherwise: New & Selected Poems (St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1996), 20.

[2] But see Craig L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1990), 213–219.