By Rev. Joseph D. Creedon, pastor emeritus, Christ the King Parish, Providence, Rhode Island. This excerpt is seventh in a series based on his current book.
Good Stewards Learn to Develop God’s Gifts God has blessed each of us with many gifts and our task is to discover, acknowledge and develop those gifts. Some of our gifts we discover ourselves; other gifts have to be pointed out by others. One of life’s greatest challenges involves discovering and developing all of our God-given gifts. Parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, scout leaders and friends play an important role in this journey. Once we know we have a gift, we have to believe in the gift and commit ourselves to developing it. We have to work on our gifts and have the discipline to hone them to perfection.
Blessed John Cardinal Newman once said, “Nothing would be done at all if one waited until one could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.” Many people are afraid to test their gifts. Fear of failure, it seems, is pervasive. We are not born with a fear of failure. Fear grows on us. Fear wears many disguises – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of ridicule, fear of not belonging, fear of looking foolish – to name but a few of fear’s disguises. All of fear’s disguises lead to stagnant energy. Fear always brings with it inertia and inertia always leads to stagnation. No one develops their gifts responsibly without risk-taking, hard work and overcoming fear.
Allow me to offer an example. Do you remember what it was like to learn how to ride a bicycle? We start off with a tricycle and for a while that is enough but soon we want more. We want a bicycle and the day comes when we get our first bicycle but our joy quickly fades when we realize that the bicycle comes with training wheels. So instead of going from three wheels to two wheels we go backwards to four wheels. Finally the fateful day comes when the training wheels are taken off. A person we thought loved us, usually a mother or a father, puts us on the bicycle, puts one hand on the back of the seat and the other on the handlebar, tells us we can do it and pushes us off to fend for ourselves. The result is always the same – we fall to the ground. Then the person we thought loved us picks us up and repeats the process. Eventually we get the hang of it but not before we have fallen and picked ourselves up more often than we choose to remember. The gift of balance is key to being able to ride a bicycle; the process of discovering that gift is repeated many times in our lives.
Life is a series of failures that morph into successes sometimes without our realizing it or knowing how it happens but it does. We had to learn how to be brothers and sisters, we had to learn how to be husbands and wives, and we had to learn how to be friends and neighbors. We need to learn how to be good stewards of the many gifts God has given us; to discover them, cherish them and not be afraid to develop them.