In elementary school, I won first place in the 4-H baking contest. My mom didn’t have time to make homemade cornbread, so she took out a box of Jiffy Cornbread and the rest was history. I actually had no part in the actual making of the cornbread, but regardless, I still received the coveted blue ribbon.
I still have that blue ribbon almost 30 years later, which may say more about me than I really want to admit to myself. I had no problem taking credit for someone else’s talent.
In all honesty, I’m not a great baker. I wasn’t very good at basketball, even though I liked to play. And I’ve never beaten a Super Mario Brothers game, no matter how many times I’ve tried.
Talent Has Never Been Enough
I’m just not that talented, which is ok because talent has never been enough.
And I’ve learned that each of us has different levels of talent, but more important than the amount of talent we’ve been given is how we use it.
I have found that talent alone isn’t enough. Take for example Jesus’s parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30. Each servant was given a certain amount of talent, but each one did not use it wisely. This resulted in one servant’s talent being given to another.
When this happens today, we say that someone has squandered his or her talent. They were given a gift, in some cases incredible gifts, but they wasted it.
We know of other people who had what appeared to be very little talent, but they made the most of it and accomplished things we would have never thought possible.
3 Multipliers Leaders Need
So, what’s the difference between someone who squanders their talents and someone who multiplies their talent? I believe it comes down to knowledge, work ethic, and character.
- Knowledge – When you combine your talent with knowledge, it multiplies. The first servant made an investment that doubled his talents. I have some great news for you, it’s never been easier to gain knowledge. Read a book, read a blog, or listen to a podcast. The options are endless. The more knowledge you have, the more valuable you are.
- Work Ethic – How many of you know someone who has incredible talent but a terrible work ethic? If they’re on your team, get rid of them. They are setting a terrible example for those they influence. In the parable, it says that one servant went to work and doubled his talent. What’s your work ethic? Are you the first one there and the last one to leave, or are you always showing up late and leaving early? When Jesus called out the one servant who hid his talent, he called him out for being lazy. Don’t let that be you.
- Character – Jesus also called the servant out for being wicked. He had character issues. You can be smart, talented, and have a great work ethic and still fall on your face because of poor character. Are you trustworthy? Are you honest? Are you kind? Are you dependable? How’s your character?
We serve a gracious God who has given each of us a measure of talent. But talent alone isn’t enough. It has to be combined with knowledge, work ethic, and character, and when you put it all together, God can multiply that talent to accomplish something extraordinary.
Travis Stephens is a husband, father, and executive pastor of a small town church that went big. He has a passion for helping pastors grow themselves and the churches they serve. You can find out more about him and his ministry at TravisStephens.me.