Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Beat of a Different Drum: Developing Your Talents for God

Spirit & Truth # 243
“The Beat of a Different Drum:
Developing Your Talents for God”

By Rev. Greg Smith

An Irish Bodhran

            I am basically a lazy musician.  I play the piano, the harmonica, and an African hand drum called the djembe, all by ear.  It’s not that I can’t read music—I had five years of piano lessons.  I just don’t want to put in the work it takes to actually practice.  Now, I’ve added a different drum to my list of noise makers: the Irish bodhran (pronounced bow-ran).  I’ve been driving my family nuts over the past couple of weeks, learning this new instrument.  While I’ve been playing the djembe for a decade, the bodhran is entirely new to me.  The rhythms and technique are altogether different.  I’ve had to learn the beat of a different drum.

            The bodhran has taught me that I can’t be a lazy musician.  In contrast to my other instruments, I actually have to work at this!  My church family doesn’t have to worry—they won’t hear the sound of the bodhran just yet.  2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.”  Apparently, I need to study a little bit more as I learn the beat of a different drum.  

            God has given each of us a talent, or a handful of talents, to be used for His glory.  In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the parable of a wealthy man who went on a journey.  He entrusted his servants with the care of his money (a currency called talents).  When he returned, some of them had invested the money and returned his talents back to him along with the profit.  This greatly pleased the master.  But one servant had been afraid to risk anything, and buried the talent.  When the master returned, all he received from the lazy servant was his original coin—and of course the master did not respond favorably to that!

            What talents have you received from the Lord?  Perhaps God has gifted you as a teacher or as a musician.  Or maybe you love to serve in the church kitchen.  You could be a generous giver to the missions of the church, or you might enjoy caring for the sick.  Whatever you do for God, make sure you take the time to perfect your craft.  Giving God your best means dedicating yourself to improvement.  For you that could mean taking a CPR class so you’ll be a better nursery worker.  Or it might mean preparing your lesson a bit more before you preach or teach it.  If you’re on your church’s praise team or choir, make sure you attend practices before you sing with the group on Sunday morning.  Using your talents for God means improving them as you go.  This is how we give God our best.

            In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”  I’m not sure I agree with Thoreau.  Maybe if he isn’t keeping step, it’s just because he needs to practice some more.  God has given His people many gifts and talents.  Rather than shrugging off your lack of preparation and calling it originality or “keeping in step with the Spirit,” why not take time to practice the talents the Lord has given you?  That’s how you glorify Him—by honoring His gift and studying to show yourself approved.

Check out this video of the Corrs.  Irish music is my favorite.  For a great bodhran solo, listen to this video at 1:40 (one minute, forty seconds).   If the video doesn't load, then click here.

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