“I just don’t want to draw anymore.”
Every once in a while, a kid has to make a choice. Which activity to do after school, which friends to spend time with, which talent to pursue and nurture. There are only so many hours of the day.
Naturally, as the art teacher, I try to keep kids interested in art as long as possible. I know that most of them will drop it eventually. But when a kid is trying to make a choice about whether to take art classes or join the soccer team, I try to get them to see things my way. You’ll have sports for a few years, maybe you’ll even play in college if you’re lucky. But you can have art forever.
I wasn’t prepared for this response though:
“No one else is doing it.”
Simple, direct, and airtight logic based entirely on the fact that kids are so good at viewing themselves through the lens of how their peers see them.
How do I argue with that?
No One Wants To See Your Talent
I wasn’t very old before I realized that whatever my talents were, they weren’t going to win me any popularity contests.
It was actually the school talent show that proved this point.
I was a very quiet, reserved child. But I always had a secreted desire to try out for the school talent show. I wanted to show off some unknown talent that would blow everyone’s minds, make them sit up and take notice of this quiet kid they had never given much thought to before.
The problem was, I didn’t have a talent…at least not the kind you take to the talent show.
Sure, I was good at art. But no one goes to a talent show to watch some kid draw a picture. I was pretty decent at math too. But I’m pretty sure if I went on stage and started solving math problems, the parents would probably start booing.
Whatever I was good at, which was not baton twirling or piano playing, no one wanted to see it.
All the World Is a Stage
Since those school talent shows, in which I never took the stage, I have felt that the world works in a similar way. It is a lot like a talent show…
…But only a few of us ever get to take the stage. Only a select few, with the “right” talents and gifts ever get the applause of our peers, while the rest of us quietly sit on the sidelines, yearning to let out our inner rock star. Maybe it is true that “all the world is a stage,” but most of us feel like we’re just understudies for the real stars.
Even the church feels this way sometimes.
God has gifted us all in different ways. But I never felt that God gifted me adequately. I never felt that my gifts were good enough, compared to someone else’s gifts. (I don’t think this is a new feeling. Read Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.) Even though I lead my church, I don’t even feel like the right kind of leader! I know I’m not alone. I see Christians sitting on the sidelines all the time, like church is a talent show. But no one wants their gifts.
Whatever we are good at, no one is doing it.
And that’s when I had a realization.
What Is No One Doing
Kid, you say that you don’t want to draw because no one is doing it?
That’s exactly why you should be doing it.
We train ourselves to conform, to pursue gifts and dreams where there is already a trailblazer ahead of us. But the world is never changed by people who only do what everyone else is doing.
People start ministries and adopt orphans and take care of poor people and help drug addicts and change lives because no one else is doing those things. Stop looking at what people are doing, and start looking at what people are not doing. That’s where you’ll find exactly what you should be doing.
I don’t know what your talents are. But I do know that the world needs, desperately needs your gifts…
…because no one else has your gifts.
Question: Have you ever felt like your gifts didn’t have a place in the world?
[photo: karindalziel, Creative Commons]