In his book, A Call to Excellence, Gary Inrig tells the following story.
“Bertoldo de Giovanni is a name even the most enthusiastic lover of art is unlikely to recognize…He was the pupil of Donatello, the greatest sculptor of his time, and he was the teacher of Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor of all time. Michaelangelo was only fourteen years old when he came to Bertoldo, but it was already obvious that he ws enormously gifted. Bertoldo was wise enough to realize that gifted people are often tempted to coast rather than to grow, and therefore he kept trying to pressure his young prodigy to work seriously at his art. One day he came into the studio to find Michelangelo toying with a piece of sculpture far beneath his abilities. Bertoldo grabbed a hammer, stomped across the room, and smashed the work into tiny pieces, shouting this unforgettable message, ‘Michelangelo, talent is cheap, dedication is costly!'”
What a lesson for all of us is here today. Each of us. You. Me. For God has given gifts, talents and abilities to all of us. You probably know what yours are, or you may be feeling your way and discovering what God put inside you that is to be used for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. You may have musical or artistic ability that is designed to uplift and encourage those around you–or across the world. You may have the knack of speaking an appropriate word to a needy person, or the passion to teach children or young people or university students. You may feel a burning in your soul to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And yes, you may find yourself with a hammer in your hand, as you direct someone to the recognition of his higher talents. Be brave, be committed.
What horrendous waste to neglect the gift which God has so graciously and majestically given. Rather, let us closely consider today, the beautiful words Paul wrote to the church in Rome.
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8