published Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Roberts: Our gifts may need rekindling

by Dalton Roberts

Here in the dead of winter in difficult economic times would be a good time to remember that our life work should be our focus. We each have gifts to give the world in good times and bad.

No matter what your gift is nor how much success you may have with it, there are times you get discouraged. No matter how much you enjoy the work, there are times you get weary of it.

Once I spoke to a regional meeting of ministers. At each meal I would be sitting with a different minister. I made it a point to ask the simple question, "Are you enjoying your work?" They would say things like, "Well, there are times when it is fulfilling but ..." There was something that kept them from enthusiasm.

Paul wrote to young Timothy, who was just starting his ministry, "Rekindle the gift." No matter how great the gift, it must be rekindled. No matter how high you are today, you are going to face challenges that will take away the luster.

I like the word "rekindle." When I was a boy and we had a fireplace, Dad would send me out to cut up some kindling. These were small slivers and slices of wood that helped him get a good fire started. He'd roll up a newspaper and stack a little kindling around it and then lay a log on top of it all. As the kindling got going, it would get the log to burning, slowly but surely.

We all need a "backlog." That's one that burns slowly but steadily. Our back log is our commitment to our work. It's that steady place in our inner being that stays on task even in the darkest and most difficult of times. It is really our commitment to ourself more than to a job.

No matter how much bliss you find in your work, the fire is going to get low now and then. I know that from my songwriting. Sometimes I will get a good idea for a song and my internal wet blanket will say, "Why write it ... it probably won't sell ... no one will record it." The only way to handle an internal wet blanket is to put some kindling under it and get a fire going.

Unless we become our own best encourager, we will falter and fail. It is good to have friends to support us and appreciate what we do, and they can certainly stoke our fires, but we must be our own best stoker of the flame.

It helps to realize what we do well is a gift. How many people can do what you do? I know of few people who write songs well. Gratitude for our gifts is often kindling enough to intensify our fire. One thing is for sure: No one can do what you do exactly like you do it.

My mother once told me, "Son, we should not just tithe our money; we should tithe our time and our talent because if we don't do what we are here to do, it will never be done."

Here in the dead of winter in difficult times is a good time to go out and cut some kindling.

E-mail Dalton Roberts at

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