Faith plus talent equals purpose
Column by Dan Hettinger
What do you like to do? What are you good at? It matters.
The purpose of your life is unlocked in the answer to those questions. You are invited to experience a part of my discovery of that truth. At 2 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Philip S. Miller library in Castle Rock, eleven other local authors are going to join me in talking for five minutes each about books we have written. Then our books will be for sale for those who want to buy one and we will all proudly sign your copy. My book is “Welcome to the Big Leagues — Every Man's Journey to Significance.”
Maybe you can tell by the title that it is about a big-league ball player. In the process of getting to know Darrel Chaney, shortstop and utility player for the, arguably, best team ever to take the field, The Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds, I discovered that he and I had a common problem. We each had an identity crisis. He was not happy about his place on a team of superstars and I was not happy being a utility-player pastor of small churches during the era of the megachurch. But we both discovered that our role was important and that our lives mattered.
The library event is “The Castle Rock Douglas County Libraries Local Author Showcase.” I appreciate the library giving guys like me the opportunity to showcase our work and talents. “Vampire Vic” is the title of Jason Gray's and Allan Harris' book. They will be there too. For at least 10 years we have been talking about the struggles, breakthroughs, disappointments and joys of writing while hanging out at Crowfoot Valley coffee shop. Writing is a craft that we are working on. It has become a passion and, at least for me, it is a place where I find inspiration, revelation and an outlet to express it.
For Allan, Jason and me it is writing, but everybody has talents in areas of what they like to do. Music is the passion for many. My life has been enriched by musicians, like my wife and brother, who can hear harmonies, keep rhythm and reproduce music vocally or through the keyboard. Cooking and hospitality is an awesome talent that brings people together around a meal with delicious flavors, aromas and, usually, friendly conversation and laughter.
Artists' works inspire thought and interpretation. Builders construct structures that house our lives in the comforts of home or in productive business environments. People who are good with numbers account for all we have or hope to have. Maybe they become brilliant engineers who design engines, rockets, bridges and ways to make them.
Pursuing our interest and talents is where we find meaning and our lives make their greatest impact. When I, as a hospice chaplain, attend a death, the fondest memories the family tells of their loved one often revolved around their talent. The most memorable was the night I arrived at a tiny West Denver house. It was neat as a pin and the whole family recalled how much their dear departed father liked to work with his hands. The showed me the rooms that he added onto the house with his own labor and the furnishings and shelves that he made. But the unforgettable part of the story was, just after he passed away, the cuckoo clock that had not worked for years suddenly popped out with the time again.
Many of the churches of our town encourage people to discover, pursue, develop and use their talents. In the 139th Psalm we are taught that our aptitudes were put into our lives by design when we were being knit together in our mother's womb. Jesus, in Matthew 25, warned people not to hide their talents but to use them and enjoy the rewards of seeing them multiplied.
So whether is it writing, gardening, arranging flowers or whatever it is, when you are pursuing what you are good at and what you like to do, you may feel God's pleasure and discover the purpose for your life.
Dan Hettinger is director of pastoral services at Hospice of Saint John and president of The Jakin Group, a ministry of encouragement, especially to Christian workers. You can email him at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.