I’m not typically a chatty person. Some people are, and that’s great. Some people repeat themselves more than necessary, some have a lot of new and wonderful words to say, and some just love the sound of their own voices. I, on the other hand, tend to only say what I absolutely need to, and will only say it once.
Recently I had a revelation of sorts. Not a new piece of information that I’d never heard before, but something I already knew in my head that hadn’t quite made it to my heart yet.
In my writing journey, I always thought my aspiration for perfection was my greatest hurdle to jump. I struggled to finish pieces because I wanted the end result to be 100% flawless.
But it hit me one Thursday in the most ordinary of ways, walking from my living room into my bathroom. More than never reaching the imaginary finish line of perfection, I was actually afraid of running out of content. Again, I’m the type of person who speaks in as few words as possible and tend to write in the same fashion. I’m not going to repeat myself. Redundancy is a huge pet-peeve of mine. Even this paragraph feels too repetitive and I’ve deleted and rewritten it multiple times. Didn’t I already say I’m not chatty? I really don’t need to emphasize it, right?
In my hallway that day, I stared fear in the face as it whispered lies and asked me ridiculous questions. What if I share all my words and I have nothing left to say? What if I write the best thing I’ve ever written today and nothing can top it? What if the three thoughts in my head right now are the last three thoughts I will ever think!?! It all sounds so absurd, but I have dozens of half-written blog posts on my phone to prove not only my fear of imperfection but also my fear of finishing them and never having another word to write. If I am left empty of words, then what?
God immediately interrupted me with a quippy one-liner as He often does. “You know that’s not how My kingdom works.” Then He, of course, took me to the Parable of the Talents.
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “Matthew 25:14-30 ESV
When we use our gifts, we won’t use them up to the point of running empty. If we put what God gives us back to work for His kingdom, He will multiply it. The money, the resources, the talents. He multiplies it all. We know this. But for some reason many of us still struggle to be faithful with what we have.
The third man in this parable hid his talent because he was afraid. He didn’t want to risk losing the one talent he had. I stopped writing because I was afraid of running out of words. What are you afraid to lose? Are you burying what God gave you to use?
As long as my half-written pieces stay stacked up, it gives me the illusion that I still have plenty of words to share. So basically I stop writing in the present to hold onto the potential of accomplishment in the future. I’ll have something to share tomorrow if I so desire.
“If I so desire.” It’s a control thing. I want control over the result.
The catch is, every time I put the pen down for a season, I forfeit any progress I’ve made. I have to start the process all over again. I am so worried about reaching perfection but my fear of lack is tripping me up prematurely. It’s like I’m cutting off God’s miraculous power. The reality is, my brain does have a limited number of thoughts and words at the present. But if I use them, God will fill me with more.
In 2 Kings 4, Elisha is talking with the widow who was in debt and who’s sons are about to be sold into slavery. He tells her to go collect all the jars from her neighbors and pour her one jar of oil into the new jars. We don’t know how many jars she ended up with, but we do know that the oil from the one small jar multiplied. Only when she ran out of vessels did the oil stop flowing. If she had collected five hundred more jars, I’m certain she would have had enough oil for those as well.
If we are obedient to use what we have, we will always have enough to give. Even it it is small, we will always be pouring from a full jar. Until the job is done, until we are out of days to fill, until we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we will always have enough talent to pour out for God’s kingdom.
Creatives, you won’t run out of content as long as you are living life and being faithful with what God’s given you. God honors good stewardship. Those half-written lyrics, the melody that’s almost there, the canvas that’s primed and ready, the manuscript taking up space on your hard drive… what are you holding onto because you’re afraid to finish, you’re afraid of what will or won’t come next?
You are anointed and entrusted to steward your talent. Pour it out and trust that God will keep the oil flowing.