Three strategies to align your talents and your dreams

We love our friends at The High Calling here on the Patheos Faith and Work Channel, and we hope you check out their blog often for the helpful, practical tips about everyday life, work, and the spiritual journey that they offer.

THC also has a much more extensive website of their own at thehighcalling.org, where you can find even more posts, tips, resources, and a thriving online community.  From time to time we want to make sure to point you at some good posts over there–like this one, a mediation by Jeff Goins on how to make your talents and your dreams fit together.  And it starts in an unlikely place–a pair of steel-toed boots given to a young Walt Disney as a Christmas present:

One day after delivering [news]papers, while crossing the street to visit some friends at the soda fountain, he attempted to kick a block of ice, but it didn’t move. Instead of it scooting across the street, gliding from one side to the other, the block of ice stood in place—and Walt’s brand-new boot stuck to it.

He felt a sharp pain race all the way up his leg. Looking down, Walt saw a long nail sticking out of the ice—and into his boot. He screamed, but his shouts fell on deaf ears for nearly twenty minutes until a carriageman finally stopped to help him.

After removing the nail from his foot, the doctor gave Walt a tetanus shot and told him he didn’t have anything for the pain. The teenager would have to lie in bed for two weeks, without any pain reliever, while his foot healed.

Little did Walt know how important those two weeks in bed would be.

From Walt’s two weeks in bed, Goins takes three lessons:

1) Take time to reflect

We don’t know exactly what Disney thought about while he was flat on his back, Goins says, but we know this:

Whatever he thought during those two weeks, what we know is that when Walt Disney got out of bed, he was determined to become a cartoonist. That encounter with the nail seemed to give him the time and space he needed to reflect on his life and the lessons it was trying to teach.

We need to find those times and spaces to reflect, too.

2) Become who you are

For Disney, that was an artist. Goins tells a story of how he realized this in his own life:

One day, a friend asked what my dream was. I told him I didn’t have one.

“Really?” he said. “I would’ve thought your dream was to be a writer.”

“Well, yeah… I guess,” I said. “I mean, I’d like to be a writer… some day.”

He laughed, “Jeff, you don’t have to want to be a writer. You are a writer. You just need to write.”

3) Delay dreams and develop talents

Goins reminds us here of the story of David in the Bible. He may have been anointed for kingship, but he had years to wait for the fulfillment of the dream:

The prophet Samuel comes to anoint the next king and finds him in a field, herding sheep. The anointing is a powerful moment, but once it’s over, what does young David do?

He goes back to being a shepherd, back to serving his family as the lowliest of men in the clan. And the next time we see him, he’s bringing food to his brothers on the battlefield. He hasn’t increased in stature or authority—at least, not on the outside.

In other words, although God gave him a clear calling, a dream, his daily responsibilities didn’t immediately change. David developed the talents that would prepare him to be king over time, in the context of everyday life and work. For him, everything was practice.

Goins concludes,

This is how it seems to unfold for a lot of people. While going about our everyday activities—whether writing a brochure, tending sheep or kicking a block of ice across the street after delivering the morning paper—we are developing those talents that will prepare us for the arrival of our dreams some day. And if we pay attention to our lives and remain patient, we can be grateful for the process as it unfolds, seeing it all converge into a calling.

Read more posts from THC on aligning your talents and dreams–and join their online discussion community–by hopping on over to their site. You’ll be glad you did!

Images: “Dreams and Wishes” by Nicole Pierce, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license; THC.

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We’re part of the Patheos Faith and Work Channel, which aims to provide you all kinds of resources for bringing your faith and your daily work together–whether you write books, teach children, change diapers, or lay tile. We’re the “channel voice.” You can think of us as signposts, standing on top of the mound of information you run into every day and pointing you towards places we think you should take a second look–great posts on our own channel, articles in the secular media that can be looked at with a “faith slant,” deeper context for news events dealing with faith and work, helpful and faith-full tips on financial matters, books worth reading, and blog posts from around the universe of Christian reflection on faith, work, and economics. And occasionally we’ll feature guest posts from some folks we think are worth listening to. We also have an event calendar of conferences you might want to attend.


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