Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Find Your Talent, Develop It, and Use It?

Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” Matthew 25:28~30

Do you know what your talents are?

All of us have at least one talent. Some people are good in sports while there are some who are good in singing or dancing, just to name a few.

On my part, let just say that I can write. I am not like Roald Dahl, Stephen King, Dan Brown, Bo Sanchez or something like that. However, I won’t say either that I don’t dream about it.

How will you know your talents?

You showed flashes of your talent as a young kid.
As a young boy I was so frustrated with myself. I was not strong and athletic like my big brother, Dhadz. I was not a good storyteller like my cousin Florenillo. In arts, I was just a little above average. I can’t sing or dance like my brother (again…I am now fuming with envy). I was only average in school during my elementary years. And I was painfully shy, and terribly lacking of self-confidence.

It seemed that nothing was going my way as a young boy. However, I just realized now the two manifestations of my talent as a kid. First, I could sit for down literally for hours just staring at our wall. My mother called me lazy and wasteful. What really happened was that my mind was busy churning out stories upon stories where I am the main protagonist. And I really enjoyed doing this.

Another sign was the fact that I felt nostalgic or I felt like crying every time I hear certain songs or music. I don't know why, but I could be emotional at times.

You are good at it and people admire you for your works.
I didn’t know how to write…until I was infatuated with a sophisticatedly beautiful girl in high school. From there, my world brightened with colors. Analogies and metaphors came out my mind like water from a spring. However, when she refused my heart I thought it withered and died. Instead, my heart burnt with deep emotion I didn’t know before. Though it was suffering (at least temporarily), but that experience pushed my writing to a higher level that people like my english teacher, Ms. Erna Yuson, began to notice.

You feel deep satisfaction in your work.
Some of you might be wondering when will this blog ends? A month for now? In two months time? In three? Honestly, I can’t tell you. However, this I can tell you – I enjoy writing the Daily Snacks for the Soul. I feel deep satisfaction just writing it. Where people see labor, I feel joy.

You feel a unique connection to your work
I am tempted to say that if your talented in something you will find it ‘always’ easy to do. In my case it’s not like that. There were many times when I experienced writer’s block. However, this again I can tell you – when I write I don’t rely much on my thinking ability; I rely more on my feeling or instinct. I only use my head to deal with technicalities in writing. I used my feeling to write the story.

In summary, God gifted us with at least one obivous talent, and normally we show flashes of this as a young kid. People admire the product of your talent, and you feel deep joy and satisfaction using your talent. Finally, since your talent in innate you don't think a lot when doing it, instead you rely more on your feeling and instinct.

How to develop your talent?

Once you find your sling (the word Bo Sanchez coined for talent), you must develop it. It’s a sin not to. Now here are my suggestions, which worked for me, how to develop your talent.

Read books about your talent
We may have the natural raw material to sing, dance, cook, talk, etc. but if you don’t study to improve your talent, your development will be slow. In my home library I have 4 books about writing.

Be yourself
I like Bo Sanchez’s writings because they are easy to read, and it's packed with simple wisdoms. In fact, I have several of his books autographed by the man himself. But I don’t attempt to write like Bo, not that I don’t like his style. Each and every one of us is unique, and it is this uniqueness that makes us valuable. Instead of trying to be like someone you are not, celebrate your uniqueness instead.

Believe that you can contribute
You may not believe in yourself, but at least believe that you can help others. And what better way you can help others than using your talent to contribute. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to be outstanding to start making a contribution. There will always be people who are higher or lesser than you in terms of talent, but that is not the point. The point is God give you a measure of talent, so use it.

Apply your talent in real situation
At first practice with people whom you know can possibly give you helpful feedback. However, sooner or later you will have to face the real world. Don’t wait for 30 years before you will come out of your shell.

In summary, once you find your talent develop it by applying it. Start with people whom you know can encourage and help you. Read literatures and asked the right people to help you improve your talent faster. When you doubt yourself, remember that there will always people out there that will need your talent no matter how insignificant you think your gift is, and you do not have to wait to perfect your talent before you start using it to help others; learn as you go. Finally, be yourself.

How to use your talent?

Use your talent to help others, not just yourself
Use your talent to give value, and to give joy to other people. A well develop talent can really help improve the lives of other people, a well develop talent can really captivate the hearts of any one.

If you use your talent with the emphasizes on what's in it for you, then your effort will be short-lived. Your legacy will be tainted. Of course, it is OK to profit from your talent, but in the context of giving value and joy to others. It's a win-win situation.

What's in it for me in writing this blog? The joy of knowing that God use me to touch the lives of other people. The satisfaction of knowing that I use God's gift, no matter how little it is, to live out my purpose in life.

Use your talent to give glory to God, not yourself
You are not the source of your talent. I am not the source of my talent. Stamp this in your head and you will never get lost amidst the praise and admiration this world will bestow upon you. God is the only source of our talent.

January of last year I asked myself how I can contribute to God’s work. The only thing I felt natural at is writing, so I decided to write about God’s words. At first I was afraid because I will have to expose myself to other people. What made me do it anyway is this very simple yet powerful belief, “I am not doing this for myself, I am doing this for God.” At first I sent e-mails to my friends and officemates, and this year it evolved into a blog. And that was how the Daily Snacks for the Soul got started.

I don’t look at myself as the source of the wisdoms, and knowledge that I sprinkled here and there over my articles. I am not kidding. Instead, I look at myself as a delivery boy. Before writing I pray to God for wisdom and understanding, and then I read the Bible. From there I begin writing my thoughts and reflections. (I do read articles from other writers, and listen to preachings in between.) So when somebody tells me – “Your article is good! I like it!” - I can honestly say, “Thanks! But thank God more for He is the source of the message.”

In summary, use your talent to serve your purpose in life: (1) To love God above all things (2) To love others as much as yourself. Enjoy your talent, but don't fool yourself into thinking that you are the source of your talent. Praises are good when taken with the right frame of mind -- keeping in mind that the glory belongs to the Creator.

PS: Honestly, I still feel happy when somebody finds my article helpful, and I feel inspired to continue my chosen task everytime I see the people who followed the Daily Snacks for the Soul. Many thanks to all of you for your support!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why on Earth God Created Us?

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37~40

When I was a teenager I wrestled with the question: “Why I am here? What is my purpose in life?”

 I’m sure many of you did too at one point or another in your life. Now here is Jesus’ answer to this question in a nutshell.

(1) To love God above all things
(2) To love others as much as yourself

As simple as it seems but these are the purpose of our existence in order of importance.

What does this mean in practical day to day living? (Below are a few questions to guide you.)

To Love God
When you wake up in the morning, do you thank God or do go with the motion like switching on the TV to watch the morning news? Do you find pleasure in spending time with God?

When you are browsing in the internet alone and in the privacy of your room, do you intentionally visit adult sites or do you fight off the temptation knowing that you're making God happy and proud of you?

Do you contribute your resources to advance God’s kingdom? Do you find pleasure in giving God a treat?

Do you work to impress your boss or do you work to please God?

To Love Yourself
Do you smoke for pleasure or do choose not to because you care about your health?

Do you eat unhealthy foods or do you limit yourself to healthy diet knowing that there are foods that can poison your body?

Do you indulge in premarital sex for pleasure or do you refrain because you don’t want your body to catch STD or AIDS?

Do you read and try to learn something new or do you just let your brain wither and get wasted?

To Love Others
Would you look into the eyes of a dirty and shabbily-dressed child whom you meet in the street or would you look at the other way? Would you give because you care?

Would you help a distressed mother who needs money because her child is very sick even if you do not know her? (However, she showed you a doctor’s prescription.)

Would you initiate communication with your wife after an ugly argument knowing that she’s hurting too as much as you do?

Do you lie to promote your own interest at the expense of others?

How do we pursue our purpose in life?

God calls us to do our best and to excel in fulfilling our purpose in life. The only way for you and me to do this is to operate within the vicinity of our talents, and innate skills. Otherwise, you and I won’t shine our shiniest. We will only be average.

Before we were born, God had embedded into the fiber of our being our talents and innate skills; and each and every one of us differs in the kind, and in the amount of talents. For example, some are good in singing, dancing, acting, speaking, writing, cooking, designing, building, teaching, leading, etc., while some are more talented than others. Why God made us different?

We all have the same purpose in life, but we have different ways of serving these; we have different divine responsibilities. God choose our talents because He has specific ‘ways’ in mind how each and every one of us can fulfill our purpose in life. Therefore, to have a clearer idea ‘how’ we should pursue our purpose in life, we should discover what are our talents and innate skills. And then use these to show our love for God, and our love for others as much are ourselves.

Why on earth God created us this way?

We are not an accident or a coincidence. We are intentionally crafted and created by God to be part of a BIG picture, a picture bigger than any of us.

We are all part of one body with Christ as the head. There is an invisible thread that interconnects all of us. This means that if one part is hurt, the rest will suffer in one way or another. If one part becomes sick or cancerous, the rest of the body will suffer sooner or later. Think about it for a minute, and ask this question: “What will happen to our team if one member is sick, miserable or sinful?” Start with your family, then your neighborhood, then your workplace, then your city, then your country, and then finally the world. Think hard. It’s not really that difficult to see, isn’t it?

You see, we are all created to love God, and to care for one another. And our Master Craftsman placed a mechanism inside each and every one of us that will send waves of peace, satisfaction, and ecstasy if we aligned ourselves to our real purpose in life. This is the reason why it feels really good, and right to be close with our God. This is also the reason why you won’t feel peace and real happiness when you allow yourself to become selfish, indifferent and aloof. It’s like cutting off the oxygen to your spirit.

Now here’s the brighter part. If you don’t like the direction of your life now, and you feel as if you are chasing something that you can’t find or that your life doesn’t count much then maybe, just maybe your life is not aligned to your real purpose in life. It’s time to go back to your oasis, and live the life God calls you to be. Follow your purpose in life. Use your talents to serve God’s purpose for you.

PS: Now you understand the deep reasons behind God’s 5th commandment: “Thou shall not kill.” When God tell us to do something, He is not just bossing us around, He has deep reasons. And it is to our best interest to listen and follow. Amen?