Every reader of this magazine would like to serve the Lord. What keeps you from serving Him more effectively? What do you need that you don’t have? What abilities would make you a better servant? If the Lord was looking for someone to serve Him in some special way, what talent would you need, that you don’t have now? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a talented singer, or a talented musician, or a talented orator, or a gifted evangelist, or to be skilled in some profession that could be used in the work of the Lord, or to be wealthy and able to give vast sums to the church? Many of us do not have those talents.
Have you ever wondered, what talent is the greatest of all? Which talent would be the best to have? Paul said to covet earnestly the best gifts. I Corinthians 12:31. What is the best gift? There is one gift, one talent that is indispensable in our service of the Lord. If we have it, we really don’t need anything else. If we don’t have that talent, it doesn’t matter what other talents and abilities we possess. The very greatest talent is not something that can be inherited. Yet it is something anyone can acquire.
The best talent cannot be bought with money. Anyone, regardless of financial status, can have it. Age has almost no bearing on the greatest talent. So the young, the old, and the middle-aged can equally possess it. The greatest talent a Christian can possess is willingness. A tremendous pianist, who is unwilling to attend church services or music practices, is of no value. A talented preacher, who is unwilling to speak for the Lord, is almost useless.
People may have the ability to manicure the church lawn, to maintain the equipment, or to serve as an usher or nursery worker, but if they are unavailable when needed, their talent has not benefited the work of the Lord. The Apostle Paul wrote about Christian service to one of the early churches. He said in II Corinthians 8:12 that the first thing is a willing mind.
The Living Bible’s translation of that verse says: “If you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t.” No other talent is of any use if there is not first a willing mind. And because God is great enough to use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, I Corinthians 1:28-29, it doesn’t matter if a willing person has any other talent. If there is first a willing mind, God will supply all the other talent that is needed. The scripture does not promise that the talented shall inherit the good of the land, but rather that the willing and obedient shall. Isaiah 1:19. The great men and women in the Bible, and those who are renowned throughout history, have been willing to serve.
They were not too busy or too preoccupied to respond to the call of the Lord. The promise of I Corinthians 9:17 is: if we serve willingly, we will receive a reward. The talented, who are not really willing, but do a work or task out of some sense of obligation or some other motive, will not receive the reward that awaits the willing. Talent and ability are not important; availability and willingness are. Jesus did not need talented men to be the twelve disciples; He needed men who were willing to follow Him. See Luke 5:27-28.
He could supply the other talents; all He needed was a willing heart. The “ignorant and unlearned,” who were willing and available, became the apostles of the church. Acts 4:13. There were others whom He asked to follow Him, but they were not willing. See Matthew 19:21-22; Luke 9:59. Today, the Lord doesn’t need talented and skillful people.
The talented singer may not bless the congregation, but a willing grandmother, with a crackly voice, who puts her heart into her song, may bring a wonderful blessing to the people. If you have a talent, consider it a gift from God – a gift that is to be used for God. Combine that skill with the talent of willingness, and you will be blessed. You can develop the talent of willingness. No special tools or training are required. No formal education is needed. Jonah developed the talent of willingness in the belly of a fish. Another name for this talent is availability. Are you available to work for the Lord? Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor of a small church in the segregated South. He preached his sermons and did his best to help the congregation at the Dexter Street Baptist Church.
Rosa Parks was a tired seamstress who saw an open seat on a bus and took it. But it was in an area of the bus reserved for white people only. She refused to move to the back of the bus and was arrested. Civil rights advocates called Martin Luther King, Jr. and asked him if he would get involved. The rest is history.
But what would have happened if he had said he was too busy to get involved at that time? What if he had been unavailable? In Acts 16:1-3, we read of Paul’s second missionary journey. He found a young man who was zealous to work for the Lord, and asked that young man to go with him on the missionary field. That young man’s name was Timothy.
What if Timothy had not been willing or available to go? Did he have other plans for life – university or a career? Timothy was blessed because he was available and willing to work for God. The Lord called Moses for a mission. Moses thought he lacked talents, see Exodus 3:11; 4:1,10, but all God needed was a willing vessel.
Only David was willing to challenge Goliath. Others in the army of Israel may have been more skilled in warfare; but David was willing. I Samuel 17:24,32. Willingness was all that God needed to bring a great victory. When the prophet, Jeremiah, was thrown into the pit and left to die, only one man was willing to save him. Others may have had more influence with the king, or the ability to help; but only the slave, Ebedmelech, was willing to try to rescue Jeremiah. See the 38th chapter of Jeremiah.
The only talent God needs from you is a willing mind. Are you willing to serve Him anytime and anywhere. When Saul was little in his own sight, God used him. I Samuel 15:17. Jesus wanted to feed the multitude, but neither He nor His disciples had the money to buy sufficient food. In Luke 6:9, a lad knew he didn’t have enough, but offered his five loaves and two small fishes willingly.
The Lord used what was offered – and made up the difference. Make available what you have, and see if He will not make up the difference today. Ezekiel 22:30 shows us the Lord seeking for someone to stand for the things of God. He found none. “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” It is sad when God can find no one who is willing to serve Him. We can all tell the Lord or each other what talents and ability we don’t have.
We might say, “If I was rich, I’d give more.” But God doesn’t need your offerings. Giving works the right spirit in you; it doesn’t benefit God. He expects you to make available what you have now – whether is it great or little. If you cannot give from your poverty; you will not give from your wealth. Nearly five years ago, several brethren were named as elders of this church. There were other men who seemingly had greater talents for that position – but they had left church, they had moved away; they had made themselves unavailable.
When Bro. Vernon was considering who could be the elders of this church, he had to consider who was available and willing – and to trust God to supply what was lacking in them. So far, the Lord has stood with us, and provided what we needed. Isaiah 6:8 is an account of God asking who will go to speak for Him. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Isaiah was willing to do God’s will. Are you willing to do the same? It is foolish and unproductive to dwell on what you cannot do. Instead look for what you can do. Our church organist does not feel that she is a very good or talented.
But our very talented organist left and moved elsewhere. Someone was willing; she made herself available, took some lessons – and so far God has made up for any lack of talent. Look for opportunities to serve. Someone who is more qualified to work in the church kitchen, or more able to mow the lawn, or better at testifying, or singing, might not be willing to do those tasks. But if you will step up and do what you can, God may give you more talent and ability than you ever thought you’d have.
The greatest talent in the church is not the ability to preach eloquently – I believe that Paul was not an eloquent man. See II Corinthians 10:10. The greatest talent in the church is not the ability to sing like an angel – God can hear the angels sing anytime. Rather, the greatest talent in the church, and the talent that God can use, is the willingness to be available whenever and wherever the Lord needs you. The Bible tells us to willingly offer ourselves. Whatsoever you find to do; do with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10. Deborah and Barak rejoiced after the tribes of Israel defeated the more powerful Canaanites. In Judges 5:2 they said: “Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.” God will help when you are willing to offer yourself. In I Chronicles 28:9, an elderly King David gave some advice to his son, Solomon. He said, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.” That is still good advice: serve God with a willing mind.
Then in I Chronicles 29:5, the question is asked: “And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?” The children of the Lord responded to the question. “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord.” Verse 9. If you are talented, willingly offer your talents to the Lord. He can use those talents for His greater glory. That is why He gave them to you. Even if you have no innate skill or special ability – develop the greatest talent of all: willingness. That is the talent that God can bless, and use. He will take care of supplying what you lack. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:19.