You Can Make a Difference

By Janet Treadway

Like me, you may have felt you were passed by when talents were handed out. But with God’s help you can make a difference in this world.

When I was in high school I tried hard to be included. I tried out for many activities but always seemed to be the one sitting on the bench or not chosen. I wanted to be a great basketball player or cheerleader, but it didn’t happen.

Because of rejection, I carried a sense of worthlessness into my adult life. I was afraid to volunteer for things because I felt I had nothing to offer. I feared I would mess up and embarrass myself. It was easiest not to try.

While many of us lament we have little or no talent, that we possess no gifts or special abilities, others with much greater handicaps simply do things. Take Mary Clough, for instance. Mary has Down’s syndrome. Nevertheless, Mary contributes. According to Steve Goodier’s newsletter at, Mary is a volunteer teacher at the school she attended many years ago. She works with two and three year olds, some with Down’s syndrome and some without. Among other tasks, she helps with puzzles, reads stories and teaches the kids athletics.

“We care about little kids here,” she says, “We set examples for them.”

Mary makes a difference in the lives of others. How can we become more like Mary and avoid the self-pity trap that Satan wants us to fall into? How can we get past the attitude that we have nothing to offer?

Ask God to give you talents

After much frustration because I felt I had nothing to offer, I decided to do something about it. I got on my knees and asked God to give me talents that I could use to help others. He answered that prayer in ways greater than I could even imagine! The doors blew open and I could do things that I never thought possible.

I went from helping out with potlucks to organizing them. I organized fund-raisers and a teen magazine. I went from someone who felt she had nothing to offer to someone who had much to give.

“And whatsoever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14)

We read in Luke 11:11 “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?”

God wants to give us things that are good for us that we can use to help others. We must first ask, but do we just ask God and then wait for God to magically present us with talents? No! We have to take action, in faith, knowing that God will help us. 

Action develops talents

David, who became king of Israel, had courage to act when everyone else was too fearful to fight Goliath. He asked God to help him, then he faced a giant. Each of us has his [or her] own Goliaths. Mine were feelings of inferiority and worthlessness.

But no one is worthless. In Ephesians 2:10 God tells us: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

As King David asked, I first asked God to give me talents to use for His glory. Then I had to step out in faith and act.

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 clearly shows how one servant, out of fear, hid the one talent he had instead of developing it. By using their talents, the other two servants actually doubled them.

Never give up!

One man I have read about failed as a businessman and storekeeper, and he failed at his first attempt to obtain political office. When finally elected to the legislature, he failed when he sought the office of speaker. He failed in his first attempt to go to Congress. He failed when he sought appointment to the United States Land Office. He failed when he ran for the Senate. He failed when friends sought for him the nomination for the vice presidency in 1856.

“…He’ll never come to much, fur I’ll tell you he wuz the puniest, cryin’est little youngster I ever saw,” said Dennis Hanks, a first cousin of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, on the day Abraham Lincoln was born.

But Abraham Lincoln kept going through all his setbacks, in spite of the negative words of others. What amazes Lincoln buffs was his capacity for growth and his intellectual resourcefulness, given the obstacles and miseries he experienced during most of his life. Lincoln did great things in spite of his many failures. If Lincoln had given in to feelings that he had nothing to offer, the course of history would have been completely different.

Lincoln told the secret of his success: “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

We, too, will face failures in our efforts to use our abilities. We’ll hear discouraging words from others. But if we, like Lincoln, seek God’s help for our inadequacies, we can do great things for him. Part of God’s work is to prepare His people for works of service so the Body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-12).

What to do

It is God’s intention and desire that we serve. So how can we get beyond fears of inferiority and discover and develop talents for the use of others?

  • First, ask God to give you talents.
  • Then look around for needs and act.
  • Sign lists. Let it be known that you would like to help. People cannot read your mind. Many times they are not even aware that you want to help.
  • Keep doing! You learn from experience. The more you do, the more you will develop talents you can use for God’s glory.

Remember the story of Mary Clough with Down’s syndrome. She did not use her handicap as an excuse to say, “I have nothing to offer.” We all have plenty to offer. The needs are great in your church, school and community. You can begin to discover talents you never thought you had by asking God, by taking action and by not quitting! Abe Lincoln, King David and Mary Clough had a lot to offer. So do you and I.

Reprinted by permission of The Journal News of the Churches of God December, 2002 (entitled Disadvantaged can be the best examples)