What you need to have to stand before Kings
Happy New Month Y’all!
I don’t know why but I am super excited about this new month. I guess it is because I have some renewed energy to go after my dreams and goals with gusto.
To kick off our August theme, here below is a short story I’d like you to read:
Once upon a time there were two incredibly intelligent and capable boys. Their wonderful talents were obvious from an early age, and they easily outdid everyone around. They had always known they were special, and they harbored inside them a desire that, in the future, everyone would come to admit how exceptional they were.
Each of them developed in a different way. The first used all his talent and intelligence to have a successful career and show everyone his superiority. He took part in all kinds of competitions, visited all the most important people and places, and was great at making friends in high places. Even when still very young, no one doubted that some day he would be the wisest and most important person in the land.
The second boy, equally aware of his own capabilities, never stopped feeling a heavy responsibility. He would do almost any task better than those around him, and he would feel obliged to help them. This didn't leave him enough time to follow his own dreams of greatness. He was always busy looking for ways to more effectively help others. As a result, he was a much-loved and well-known person, but only in his own small circle.
Destiny was such that a great disaster struck that land, spreading problems and misery far and wide. The first of those brilliant young men had never come across anything like this, but his brilliant ideas worked successfully throughout the land, and they managed to slightly improve the situation. But the second young man was so used to solving all kinds of problems, and had such useful know-how in certain subjects, that the disaster hardly affected the people in his region at all. His admirable methods were then adopted across the land, and the fame of this good and wise man spread even more than had that of the first young man. Indeed, he was soon elected governor of the whole nation.
The first young man then understood that the greatest fame and wisdom is that which is born from the very things we do in life, from the impact they have on others, and from the need to improve ourselves every day. He never again took part in competitions or vain shows, and from then on, whenever he travelled, he took his books along with him, so he would be ready always to offer a helping hand to all.
From the above story, I am almost certain that you must have guessed that this month’s theme will be about gifts and talents. After talking about goals and dreams for nearly six weeks since mid June, I have received queries from quite a number of people asking how they can identify their gifts/talents and how they can be sure to put them into the right purpose/goal. Well, from the above story, we shall try to derive a few pointers that will help answer those questions and hopefully more. So what are some of the pointers we derive from the above story?
Talent and Gifts are inborn – from the above story, we are told that the young boys’ talents were evident from when they were young. This easily confirms that every one of us has something unique they brought into this world when they were born, but the challenge is always in identifying that unique thing.
Talent and Gifts can be used either for good or for bad – from the above story we see that two people can have the same gift and talent but use them in different ways, resulting to different circumstances. As seen, one could use their gift in a way to benefit everyone around them, and the other could use their gift in a way to benefit himself only.
Talent and Gifts minus skill and wisdom is nothing – we also learn that even if you have great talent and gifts but you lack the skill to know how to apply your talent/gifts, and wisdom to know when to apply the skill, then your talent and gifts will not take you far. In order for your talents and gifts to work for you, then you have to add skill, knowledge and wisdom to the package.
Your talents and gifts are like a muscle in your body - If you do not work towards developing your gifts, then you risk never realizing your dream. You risk losing your gifts because as they say, what you don’t use becomes weak and suffers a huge risk of being destroyed.
But having said all that, how does one know what gifts and talents they have? How do you identify what you have hidden inside of you? How do you know what to put much effort in as you pursue your dreams and goals? Well, this is one of those instances where in order to answer these questions you will have to answer a different set of questions first. Here below are the questions that if you answer correctly will give you a clear guideline of identifying your unique gifts and talents… the questions include:
- What do I love? – in other words, what can you do come rain or sunshine, whether you are healthy or sick, and never seem to tire to do it?
- What do I hate? – what would you not lift a finger to do even if you were paid 2 million dollars to do it? For someone to refuse such a huge amount of money, it means they really hate this thing.
- When have I been the happiest / most fulfilled? What was I doing or giving? Why was I fulfilled?– it doesn’t matter what it is you were doing when you felt that internal satisfaction, even if it was simply feeding or washing dogs.
- Who do I admire? Whose life most closely represents the life I’d like to live? Why?– in other words, do you have a role model? If yes, what are the things that make you want to model him or her?
- If there was one “ill” I could heal, what would it be?– in other words, what is that one negative thing in YOUR world that if you had the power to eradicate completely you would? For instance, I know someone who hates bats so much and if he could get rid of them he would. That’s just one example.
- If the world were a perfect place, what would people be able to be or do?– in other words, how would your ideal world be or look like?
- Knowing myself, what is it I see or understand better than most people? – what is that one thing that is so clear to you yet everyone else around you seems to be seeing darkness when it is presented to them?
- What issues do I care about? What unpopular or risky position will I support?– in other words, what is that issue that will make you say I am ready to be alone in this even if no one else is ready to buy my idea?
- How can those points where you are most glad and the world’s “hunger” join together?– in other words, where do you think you can use the gifts you have in you to satiate the hunger in your world?
Once you have clear answers to the above questions, then you are on the right track to identifying what your gifts are. However, there are a few more steps you need to take as follows:
- Set aside time to ponder the questions. Record your answers in pencil or electronically so you feel free to change/edit your answers.
- Revisit your answers until they feel “true.” Eliminate the questions that don’t seem to apply to you.
- Read your answers and circle the phrases that jump out at you as having the most energy or meaning to you.
- Now choose your top three phrases and write them in a list.
Once you have the above done, you are just one step away from identifying what your major gift to the world is. The question that will help you determine this is simple; Out of the three phrases you have listed above, what phrase is the MOST meaningful of all?
The answer you get from this question will then help you come up with what will then become your mission for your life. It is from this answer that you are likely to come up with your goals and dreams going forward.
I hope I have managed to answer those burning questions you have been having regarding identifying your gifts and talents but if I have not, I am sure before the month comes to an end we will have looked at other variables revolving around this topic, so don’t worry.
In ending my article this week, I will leave you with a quote from my favorite book, which says, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men”. (Proverbs 18:16)
If you want to stand before great men (presidents, kings, etc), you need to find what your gift is because that is what will take you there.
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 7th August, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".