Photo by Ruth Nyquist

Photo by Ruth Nyquist

Hey, you. You’re talented.

You just may not know it yet. I like to think of it as the Michael Bublé song and instead of “just haven’t met you yet” it’s “just haven’t discovered them yet”. Some talents are immediately evident, others take some time and resources to uncover.

Growing up, I didn’t consider myself very talented. My sister was a natural at academics and sports and could draw really well, seemingly without trying. I sang and played bass in chapel and somehow got the lead role in the high school musical. There were only three of us that tried out.

It wasn’t until college when I was trying to figure out my life like all college students that I started to dabble with graphic design and photo. I wanted to make commercials, I wanted to entertain people on a grand scale. The world is messed up and cruel, and I wanted to show that there could still be joy. A professor told me “you can take the front door and get an advertising degree. Or try the backdoor and work your way up through graphic design.” I never was one go the traditional route so I opted for the backdoor. My first two opportunities came to me shortly after: the church plant I was apart of wanted to start doing video announcements and my dad wanted to put his teachings in video form and needed them edited. With those two, I started to stumble and bumble my way around the video realm.

In the summer of 2009, I was with a good high school friend named Caleb for a week (we grew up in Bolivia, so this is a big deal, ok). Every day he tried to convince me to move down to LA with him and we’ll make films together, live the high school dream we had had. I thought it impossible and improbable. But God’s got a sense of humor. Through a series of events, six months later I found myself moving all my stuff eight hours away to live with Caleb. This is when making videos really started to take off. My friend and I grew in it together, getting clients and sharing workloads. We’d make videos of anything and everything, experimenting and challenging ourselves, going on adventures simply to further our knowledge and technique.

My parents never really forced me to try anything, but anything I wanted to try on my own, they supported whole-heartedly. They had gotten me my first advanced point-and-shoot to tinker with and upon graduating college, had gone in with some other family members on a DSLR. I kept dabbling in everything, I didn’t realize that when you got into photo or video, there were entire worlds and niches you could be apart of and I tried most of them.

I got to this point where I was doing anything and everything to get my name out there, that’s when I met a young man named Mike that was looking to make a music video for a fundraiser he was doing. The music sounded pretty sweet so I obliged and we put something together. I had such a grand time working with him. It was then that I had a little glimpse of using my talents for God. A couple months later Mike comes to me and says he has spoken word piece that he’s written about sharing the gospel. I listen to it and I’m floored. He was kind of hesitant to ask me to a do a music video for him without any pay. I told him that I wouldn’t be making the music video for him, but for God. He gets a look of determination on his face, grabs my hand and pulls me into an embrace.

We planned out to film for a full day in LA. It was long and hot, but neither of us had felt so fulfilled: we were using our talents for God trying to further the Gospel for his kingdom. We shared the video with friends and family and it opened up conversations we wouldn’t have otherwise had. The impact it had was incredible. We’ve done two other videos and each time I have this sense of purpose, a feeling of “I’m doing what I’m suppose to”.

Some of you might be like “Hey Jon, I don’t have a friend that cooks up dope lyrics and jams for me to make a music video to.” Hmm, good point. But certainly there is something that makes your heart smile. Some other things I’ve done are print out photos and hang them in a coffee shop to sell. I then give the proceeds to an organization that sends students on service projects around the world every summer. I’ve volunteered at church taking photos of events, filming baptisms, making bumper videos and being on the production crew. I’ve offered my video services to nonprofit organizations at a discounted rate. I’m not trying to toot my horn, I’m hoping to show you there are so many possibilities for how you can use your talents for our God. You don’t have to follow the examples of what I do. You can find your own way you can use your talents for God.

So whether your talent is crocheting, baking, or like your degree (undeclared), look for ways that you can impact people and make a difference with your talents. At times it may even be in conjunction with a friend. So find some like-minded friends, turn off Netflix and get to moving and shaking.

This growth has been much like having a baby, when you’re the parent you don’t notice much. But when you visit every couple years, the growth is exponential.

I’ve seen a number of people start something and if they’re not really good at it in three tries, they give up. But keep at it! You’ve all heard it: “Practice practice practice” and “practice makes perfect.”

I find that I get mad at myself for doing leisure activities instead of working on learning something new. If I took how long I was on Instagram or Facebook and put that time towards learning a new language or instrument, I would be pretty good at it in two years time.  So I’m as guilty as anybody.

So if you have your talents, now what do you do? Jesus tells a story of a master that gives his servants talents. In that context, the talents are money, but I like to think that it applies to our own talents as well. Two servants take their talents and use them. The master comes back and praises them for their work with what he’s entrusted to them. The third servant, afraid of his master’s wrath lest he lose the talent, buries it. What a fool. The master is enraged at him and throws him in prison.

Watch a few of Jon's videos here:

Sincerely KindredComment