Dreaming Dreams and Taking Risks
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a man going on a journey. As he departs, he entrusts talents to three servants. To the first, he gives five talents. To the second, two talents. To the third, one talent. Each was given talents according to their ability. Then he went away. When he returned after a long time, he came to settle accounts with the servants and to see who had done what with his stewardship. The servant entrusted with five talents made five more. The servant with two talents made two more. The servant with one talent made no more, for he buried his in the ground. The master rewarded the two servants who worked. The one who buried his talent was cast out.
God has entrusted each of us with a talent. But not all our talents are the same. He gives according to our ability. Our ability is dependent not on us, but on him. He made us who we are. He gave us what we have. He placed us in our time, place, and season. But no matter who we are or what we have or where we may be, God has entrusted something to us. What shall we do with it? That is the question to which we must find the answer. All our hopes and dreams must circle that stewardship.
The first step is to think through what we have. This first step is limiting because taking inventory is always defined by what we have right now. It’s not focused on the future, and it doesn’t dwell on the past. The purpose is to see what you have at this moment.
- What gifts has the Lord given?
- What can you do?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What limits you from doing?
- What resources are at your disposal?
- What time do you have?
- What materials do you have?
- What opportunities do you have?
The second step is to take those answers to step one and ask a further question: What must you start doing?
The third step is more difficult. What must you stop doing?
The fourth step is harder still. What dreams must die so that others may live?
The fifth (and final) step is easier but riskier. Start doing.
Hannah Anderson, in her book Humble Roots, has helpful insight. She talks about the moment when she made a commitment to becoming a writer.
“I wasn’t trying to earn my freedom; I just wanted to use my freedom well. And through the process I resolved the following:
- I will not overlook my privilege. I will take stock of the resources that God has given me including time, talent, education, and wealth.
- I will not feel guilty about what God has put in my hands or attempt to earn it. I accept it as a gift and rejoice in it.
- I will allow God to lead me in cultivating these gifts for His glory and the good of those around me.
You, too, have resources at your disposal. They may not be many or public, but you have them. And no matter how small, no matter how few, God intends for you to use them. He intends for you to become a humble, resourceful person, first by receiving His gifts with gratitude and then by cultivating them for the good of those around you.
But in His wisdom, He’s crafted the world in such a way that you can’t do this apart from Him. You will regularly have to take risks, you will regularly feel pressed past your abilities, you will regularly feel like the husk of your life is being broken open and your seeds scattered to the wind. But this is exactly how He means to teach you humility. This is exactly how He means to relieve you of your burden of guilt and self-reliance. Just as you must accept your resources as good gifts from Him, you must accept that you cannot cultivate them apart from Him. The very process is meant to teach you dependence.”
If we are to ever step out of our wondering and into God’s light, we must be willing to do two things constantly. We must be willing to acknowledge and thank him for the gifts he’s given (even if they don’t look like gifts at the moment). We must also be willing to take a risk and step into the unknown, trusting that our Father is with us because he’s promised he will be.