In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. ~Romans 12:6-8
My dream of becoming a published author was born when my parents invested in a set of World Book encyclopedias in the summer of my tenth year. While other kids were outside playing Capture the Flag in the parking lot of our apartment complex, I was seated at the dining room table, poring over the contents of those forest green- and cream-colored volumes. The amazing articles and color photos found on their pages would transport me to faraway destinations, help me to better understand a scientific theory, teach me about an event of historical significance, or introduce me to a person that had impacted the world in some powerful way. I was more than mesmerized by those pages and photos – I was inspired to action! So, armed with a perfectly-sharpened pencil and crisp, pristine sheets of notebook paper, I would write. Granted, most of what I wrote was lifted directly from the pages of the World Book, but I was writing nonetheless. Combing through old magazines and newspapers, I searched for pictures that would complement my mostly-plagiarized work. Into a fresh, bradded folder my completed masterpiece would be placed, and onto some teacher’s desk my handiwork would land. I often imagined myself winning some prestigious award for my literary creations and so, in anticipation of this eventuality, I diligently rehearsed acceptance speeches sure to make a presidential speech writer green with envy. Using a Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo bottle as my microphone and the bathroom mirror as my audience, my rehearsals would cease only after my brother began kicking at the base of the bathroom door, demanding his turn in the shower.
As the years passed, the impracticality of such a lofty dream as a career in writing stifled my passion for the craft. Not wanting to become yet another in a long line of starving artists, I instead set my sights on the more lucrative field of banking. And though I prospered and even managed to climb a few rungs on the proverbial ladder of success during my years in the banking industry, life was never quite as rich as it had been all those years ago, when an encyclopedia, some notebook paper, a pencil and a shampoo bottle could carry me off to a place I can only describe as heavenly. And then I became seriously ill, and in an instant realized that life was simply too short to dabble in a vocation that brought me so little fulfillment. So, after a few false starts, I am now daring to revisit this long-forgotten dream of writing for my livelihood, this time filled with a passion and intensity I’ve never experienced before. Why? I think the story of Paul Potts beautifully answers this question.
Paul Potts is a former mobile phone salesman from Wales who endured years of bullying from classmates during his formative years, and also health problems as an adult. Altogether, these experiences caused him terrible pain and shook his confidence. Potts stated that this difficult phase of his life was made bearable only through music, and that his voice was his best friend. In time, Potts summoned enough courage to make his dream of making music his primary pursuit. He entered and ultimately won a British talent competition, with his story and performances moving and inspiring fans world-wide. When singing, Potts says, he enjoys a peace he has found nowhere else, and knows with certainty that he is “in the place he should be,” doing what he believes he was “born to do.”
How much fuller life becomes when we are “in the place we should be,” doing what we were “born to do.” For it is then that we’re maximizing our God-given potential, using our unique talents and abilities to bring joy not only to ourselves but also to others. And so I write…in hopes of presenting the best of myself to the world and, more importantly, to the God I love and serve.