I grew up with 3 people more talented than I was.
In my immediate circle, I was 4 out of 4. I sort of grew up in their shadow. Man, they could do anything! They were so smooth with people. You just wanted to help them with whatever they were doing. It was only when I left to go somewhere that I actually saw talent in myself.
Is talent greatness? Is greatness significance?
In Canada, there’s a massive tendency to mistake talent for greatness. If you’re talented all the doors seem to open for you. You get offered jobs the rest of us don’t get. You get better opportunities.
I’m thinking of all the super talented people I knew from 20 years ago. Don’t have a clue where any but one of them are now, and not because they’re “living the dream” somewhere, but because it seems they sort of fell by the wayside. All those open doors didn’t amount to much in the end. You can rise to the top quickly, but what if you’re missing a key ingredient?
There’s not a gold medal Olympian who doesn’t have talent. So is every gold medal winner simply the most talented person in the world? Not at all. In fact, they were probably competing with more talented people. What set them apart? Talent by itself doesn’t amount to much in the end.
Talent PLUS capacity leads to greatness. Drive, tenacity, work ethic, sheer guts stretches your ability until you become great.
Define Talent: something (a gift) you were born with.
Greatness: being the best you can be at it.
Significance: What your life brings to others. What you leave behind. Your legacy.
Saul of Tarsus was the best of the best. Born with a gift. Increased capacity. Best teachers. Best schools. Best natural opportunities. He had more drive, more fervour, wouldn’t take “NO” for an answer. The best in his nation. Doors opened for this guy.
The trouble was… he was a gold medalist in persecuting Christians and dragging them off to jail. All the personal greatness in the world doesn’t do anyone any good if your motivator is self, or if you’re using it for the wrong thing.
So God looks down on this “great” Saul and says “This guy has potential, I think I’ll throw a wrench into his life and get him on My team!” And He did.
On the road to Damascus personal greatness met real Significance, and greatness went down. It had to. The premise of personal greatness apart from the lever of what your life could mean to others gives you nothing in the end. Jesus actually struck Saul blind. Now this great guy can’t find a bathroom by himself, and God commands him to go wait in town for some nobody named Ananias to come and heal him.
Here Saul has the potential (talent) to become the 2nd greatest preacher in the history of the world (Jesus was #1…. obviously), but he can’t see. A mouth with no eyes, and he learns his first lesson in significance.
Independence brings insignificance. In the end anyways. When a great independent person leaves the earth sometimes the rest of us are relieved that we don’t have to live in their shadow anymore. Saul learns what community actually looks like… that interdependence is not only OK, it’s inevitable to becoming significant. His name changes to Paul. Like the Apostle Paul.
One thing brings significance: INTEGRATION. Why? Because we could go further together. Why? Because we were created to. Live apart and live unfulfilled. Yeah, it’s messy. Yeah, we have awkward conversations and don’t get everything our own way. Yeah, we can’t be selfish and independent anymore. Yeah, we have to feel pain and loss on so many levels. But we are laser focused. We’re asking “How can we leave the world better than we found it?”
We can only do it if we do it together.
I’m waiting for someone to cancel their life plans and try it…