Monday, February 14, 2011

Employee of the Year

My niece informed me that she has been selected as employee of the year by the city in which she works. I asked her if that means she will get a bonus, free use of a car, and perhaps a larger office. She laughed in her response: no, those days are long gone. She’ll receive perhaps a plaque and the cheers of her staff. And she will be very happy with that.

Sic transit Gloria mundi.

I wonder how many hours she put in, how many lonely Saturdays, to earn that reward. I know the feeling. When you have certain talents, whatever they may be, when you find your real earthly talents, you feel drawn to use them, even if you secretly wish you had other talents. Some might look at dedication and say it is a bad thing: what about time for your family? What about time for your friends? What about time for your God? I disagree with those who would be critical: What about the parable of the talents?

We are all given talents, totally unique to us, some with bigger talents with which we can help many people, and some with smaller talents --- who are lucky to be able to help themselves. But all must seek to discern their earthly talents, and to use them as much and as wisely as possible, for they were a gift from God, and it pleases Him that we use fully His gifts.

Yes, there is a danger that we focus too much on these talents, for He has given us other gifts also: family, friends, and His only Son. (I know only too well the importance of balance.) These other gifts too require thanks, and to be utilized by us, for our salvation and His greater glory. All these gifts from God are important, but if I had to pick one, I think I would pick use of your talents as most important.

God made each of us special, for a reason. If we all were only parents, as a queen bee with thousands of children, or if we all gave praise to God by our existence, as a flower of the field does, --- or even a rock; if we were all the same as this, and did everything the same, how would that glorify God? What would this painting of his creation look like, if we all were the same? It would be like a totally grey portrait, with no detail, nothing to focus on, telling no story to the viewer --- and showing no love of the Artist.

There are some who would say we should focus our talents on serving God, and that is true, but we serve Him in the circumstances of our life, our unique circumstances. We cannot all be as saints, nor should we try to imitate their ways, if theirs are not meant to be our ways. Even popes have had to learn this lesson!!

I used to call to mind the image of some saint whom I had set myself to imitate down to the smallest particular, as a painter makes an exact copy of a picture. This method was wrong. From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents, of their virtues. I am not (a particular saint), nor must I seek holiness in his particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character, and the different conditions of my life. God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances.
Journal of a Soul --- The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII (P107)

I think finding out our talents, why He made us, and being who He made us to be, is one of the most important things we can do in our life. In doing that we are living witnesses to what he has done for us --- so all can see and give Him praise, as we should.

Using our talents to the utmost often is not easy. Often it is very hard work, but it’s easier if we remember that in our hardest labors, we don’t work alone: He said that “My yoke is light.” And perhaps most of us will never see any earthly rewards for our hard labors ---- not even a plaque. But if we find our talents, we must use them, becoming perfect in performance as much as possible, even as a servant seeks to perfectly please his master.

And we don’t have to fear about those other gifts, nor short-changing their importance, for even the servant goes home, has a family, and gives thanks to God for all His blessings, for each and every one of them. I see in my niece’s actions that she does just that.

I am so proud of her.


  1. Your best post ever! These words ring very true! Congratulations to your niece!

  2. Best post ever? Hah! I enjoyed the one last year about the rabbits nesting in my garden. I like God's jokes more than anything I do.