18 pairs of innocent eyes watched as Sebastian made his way to Mrs Southee, now sitting at the piano. The slightly bored confidence with which she spoke made it very un-awkward or nerve-racking; it simply seemed normal that we would sing in front of the whole class. Mrs Southee played the melody on the piano then asked Sebastian to sing it as she softly played accompanying chords. Sebastian was a pale-skinned, blonde-haired boy, who was known to cry a little bit more often than most third grade boys. He was, however, a capable singer. With the excitement of a sloth going to sleep, Mrs Southee dismissed the boy, wrote down a short note and then continued through the role in like manner, occasionally pausing to frustratedly reprimand the restless class.
One by one, each boy got up and sang 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' with all the oblivious confidence that only a 9 year old can have. At that age, no one had been taught proper vocal technique or built up a skill set of harmony and aural skills; it was all just simple, bare, natural talent. As I awaited my turn, it intrigued me to note that whilst some boys held the tune with ease, others struggled. It was then, sitting in that small music room in Bellevue Hill at the age of 8, that I discovered a truth that is best explained in the wise words of my uncle: "Some can, and some cannot can". (English wasn't his first languageâ¦)
Now I'm studying a Bachelor of Music 12 years on from that first vocal audition and the stakes are somewhat higher at this age â with adults dedicating a significant part of their lives to pursue their dream of being a musician â but I can't help but notice the same truth remains. Some are simply more gifted at this than others. It's a very tricky issue to confront, because one can never stress enough the importance of practice; and if music is an art then it can (and must) be learnt and developed. But even still, I cannot deny the vast range of talent and by looking at how many musicians 'make it' I can't help but conclude that not everyone can be the best.
So here's what I propose: there is a difference between God's specific gifting and God's corporate calling. We've all been called to evangelise, but we're not all called to be an evangelist. We're all called to be leaders, but we're not all gifted with leadership. Likewise, the bible regularly tells us to sing and dance, but we're definitely not all gifted to sing or to dance (just look at my Dad to prove that point).
The trick is to find out and know for sure what your specific gifting is and be fully comfortable with that. Then once you understand your individuality as simply different, you'll never compare yourself with better or worse. I always felt for the guy who only got one talent in Jesus' Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), but who's to say that having more is better? God made you to be you, and to be that is far better than to strive to be someone else who you deem more 'impressive'.
It's sad when people think they are gifted in one area, but clearly are not. But it's even sadder when people know deep down what their gift is, but they overlook it or hide it under their busy schedules or other peoples' expectations, and the talent wastes away essentially because of a lack of confidence to do what God created them to do. They convince themselves all is well, entirely ignorant of how much better life can be if they only believe in themselves and step out.
It's always going to be scary to step out and pursue one's gifting, but that process creates maturity, which builds character and only benefits you. If you're not sure what your gifting is, then continue to ask God and proactively exercise your skills. Just keep trying out different things, for to do nothing because you're unsure of what to do, is not an excuse. Doing nothing is not neutral, it's negative â just look at the Parable of the Talents. You're wasting something that someone else gave you.
To successfully pursue your dream may empower millions of others to pursue theirs, not to mention providing you with deep joy in living with purpose. But if you don't live your calling, you never know who subsequently can't live theirs. Our actions affect more than just ourselves; likewise our inaction affects more than just ourselves. So find out your gifting and be who God created you to be; because your part is an essential element of the body, a crucial thread in God's great tapestry of history. You never know how profound or wide your effect will be, simply by you being you. God made each star to twinkle.
Daniel J. Mathew is studying a Bachelor of Music at Sydney's Wesley Institute and serves as a volunteer for the senior high youth ministry of Hillsong Church, City Campus.
Daniel's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-mathew.html