By John Kasich
We know instinctively that life can’t be all about us. We’re hard-wired to understand that self-absorption is not healthy, and to seek a balance in all things great and small. This applies to our relationship with God, and the ways we interact with each other. We strive to keep one leg in the material world and the other in the spiritual world. Most of the time this works out to the good. Unfortunately, when our egos take over, we can lose that all-important balance. I see this in myself all the time. I’ll become too focused on one leg and start to feel like I’m about to tip over.
But God wants us to find and keep that balance. He wants us to be fully engaged – in our internal pursuits, and in the world around. It comes down to ambition – a basic human emotion that very emphatically belongs among our marching orders from God. It’s part of who we are, and who we are meant to be.
The Bible clearly states that we are required to put our talents to good and productive use, and not bury them. Most of us are out to do just that, in our public lives and our private lives, whether we realize it or not. I share this thought with my daughters all the time, reminding them that it would be a sin not to develop the talents God has given them. It’s a package deal. We see it in the stories of the Old and New Testament, and in our personal lives. I tell my girls they have a responsibility to carry out their personal missions, whatever that mission happens to be. “God wants us to swim in the deep water of life,” I remind then, “not to stay in the shallow end.”
I can’t stress this enough: if you bury your talents in the ground, it’s a sin. But when you do have success, you’ve also got to realize that a lot of that is attributed to something beyond you. Yeah, you’ve done all the hard work, but without all the gifts that were placed in your hands, you wouldn’t have been able to get it done. The more successful you are, the more you have to reflect on the fact that it’s not about you. That’s hard to do. I struggle with it constantly. Perhaps you do, too. Human nature tells us to celebrate ourselves, even to sing our own praises, but on our best days we ought to remember that our power, our strength, our gifts all come from above.
There’s a story about this in the New Testament. One person buried his talents in service to God; another quietly honed his talents and used them in a small way; the third exploited his talents to the fullest. And how were these three people judged? The first was severely chastised, for not using his talents in service of the community. The second was rewarded in only the most meager of ways, while it was the third person who reaped the biggest reward.
If you’re blessed with a God-given talent, you are meant to use it, and to use it fully – because, after all, we perform for the glory of God. We must strive to do good works, to pursue our gifts and abilities to the fullest, and to share the benefits of those good works with others.
To whom much is given, much is expected. It’s a line from Luke 12:48 and it’s seeped into the culture in such a way that a cynic might reduce it to a greeting card sentiment. But I try to keep it in mind as I go about my days. I remind myself that all should be done to honor the Lord – and that pride goeth before a fall. After all, we are but a speck on the map of eternity. The end of our days approach quickly, but while we are here we must apply our talents to the max, be thankful, practice humility, keep perspective, honor God – and, as Saint Paul said, finish the race.
John Kasich, former Ohio Congressman and presidential candidate, is author of the new book “Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith, and Friendship.” Kasich is running for Ohio governor.