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Talent stems from hard work

By Ben Todd
Posted on September 17, 2013 | Columns,Opinion | Comments Off on Talent stems from hard work

I remember once showing someone my sketchbook. She told me I had a God-given talent.

I realized that I have a problem with that phrase, God-given talent. I don’t even know if such a thing exists. “Why?” you might ask. I’ll tell you.

I didn’t keep track of my drawing progress until my 8th grade year and I was terrible. I was just as good as any other middle schooler. I kept going at it though. I filled lots of sketchbooks, I researched online, I looked for tutorials, I asked for feedback from teachers, I watched what the professionals did, I had late nights sketching away and I had parents that bought supplies for me. This happened for about six years and slowly but surely, my drawings got better.

My drawings were not a God-given talent.

My dad once recommended me a book that claimed to become a professional in a field, one had to invest approximately ten thousand hours into it. It talked about how The Beatles performed hours and hours at bars together before they ever became famous. It talked about how a computer genius we know today snuck into their university’s computer rooms just to practice coding at four in the morning. These people put hours of work into their profession and it paid off.

So whenever a person says that someone else has a God-given talent, I get a little skeptical. Is it really God-given talent, or is it hours stacked upon hours that the audience never gets to see?

I hope to reach my ten thousand hours within the next few years. I hope it pays off as much as it did for many people before me. It’s been paying off well so far; getting a cartoonist job and scholarships are great payoffs.

Don’t worry. God is not out of the picture. I would hate to not acknowledge God in all of this. I will tell you what God gave me.

He put me in the perfect circumstances to become what I am today. He gave me supportive parents that would buy me pencils and tutorial books and comics. He placed my house far away from my school friends so that when they were hanging out together, I would draw and create my own worlds alone at home. He put me in Thailand where movies were cheap and after watching hundreds of them, I would have a passion for storytelling.

God has been there. He has given me lots of things. But He did not give me talent.

So the next time you hear someone say you have a God-given talent, ask yourself, “Is it really God-given talent, or is it something else?”

Rather than saying that the person has God-given talent, appreciate how much time they must have put into it. Tell them that God has been working in their life, but (at least for me) don’t tell them they have God-given talent.
avatar Posted by Ben Todd on Sep 17th, 2013 and filed under Columns, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.  - This post has been viewed 5354 times.

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