Do not neglect the gift that is in you. (1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV)
What does it mean to neglect?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives us a comprehensive definition: to give little attention or respect to; to leave undone or unattended especially through carelessness.
When a gift is neglected, it remains dormant, and you will become ineffective in fulfilling your calling.
The degree to which your gifts are developed will determine the degree that they will make room or maximize your ability to fulfill this calling.
So why would people neglect their gifts?
One common reason is that people simply don’t know their specific gifts. Another reason is that people covet another person’s gift—and I know I’m guilty of this!
When I was in high school, I dreamed of playing professional basketball in the NBA. But I had a small problem: I wasn’t a gifted athlete. It didn’t matter how hard I tried or even trained; I just wasn’t destined to flourish in the athletic realm!
I had to discover my unique gifts. Once I unearthed that writing and communicating, and not shooting hoops, were my talents, I could then begin to develop them.
Paul offers us some practical advice to ensure we don’t neglect our gifts. He writes:
Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties; throw yourself wholly into them [as your ministry], so that your progress may be evident to everybody. (1 Timothy 4:15 AMPC)
This progress requires the following disciplines: full investment, practice, cultivation, and meditation. Let’s briefly examine each.
Be Fully Invested
. . . throw yourself wholly into them [as your ministry]. (1 Timothy 4:15 AMPC)
If you are committed to developing your gift, it will require that you fully invest yourself into what God has entrusted to you. You must take responsibility.
It’s for this reason that Paul wrote:
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sink yourself into that. . . . Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (Galatians 6:4 The Message)
Therefore, this notion of taking responsibility involves discovering your identity and calling—and then being fully invested in achieving your best with what you’ve been given.
To be professionally engaged in; to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient. (Merriam-Webster 2017)
Practice is essential for developing your gift!
How much time do you dedicate to practicing in the area of your gifting? Are you committed to developing your gift?
According to Professor Anders Ericsson, an expert in the study of human expertise from Florida State University and author of PEAK: The New Science of Human Expertise, it takes approximately ten thousand hours of practice to become a master or expert in a particular skill.
However, upon further research, he concluded that it’s not enough to just accumulate hours of practice. Instead, it was necessary to accumulate hours of quality practice—a term which he coined deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice involves working at a skill consciously and intentionally. Therefore, it needs to be planned and organized with the intention of continued improvement.
One reason why people stop growing in their gifting is because they reach a point of “good enough”—they no longer feel the need to push themselves.
To improve by labor, care, or study; to foster the growth of. (Merriam-Webster 2017)
Practice is practical, while cultivation’s nature is more educational.
This is where your gift is developed through mentoring and coaching—a process that can provide feedback and constructive criticism. Cultivation can also take place through actively engaging in books and courses.
To focus one’s thoughts on; reflect on or ponder over. (Merriam-Webster 2017)
Planning in your mind requires focus.
When you are practicing or cultivating your gift, it will demand complete concentration. You must be fully present and engage in the learning process.
Now you know it’s your responsibility to develop your gift, so don’t waste any time! As you develop it, it will make room for you!
Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you . . . . (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV)
To dive deeper into this topic, check out Called, a ten-part course from John Bevere designed to help you unlock and live your calling.
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