Talent, Gifting and Persistence
I ran across a brilliant article by Jeff Goins that challenges traditional thinking about natural-born talent. The conclusion he (and many researchers) have come to is that with rare exception, there are few people born with any true natural talent. Contrary to how things may appear, most people don’t excel because of talent, but persistence. We succeed because we put in the long hours required to master the thing we’re passionate about. Conversely, those who don’t succeed are not the victims of less talent or gifting but a lack of persistence. They’ve simply chosen not to put in the hours of practice.
Whenever I teach on prophecy, healing, or some other manifestation of God’s kingdom and share my belief that anyone can do these things, there are predictably many who refuse to hear that message because they’ve been taught these things are a matter of gifting. And as we all know, gifts are not equally distributed to everyone.
The belief that operating in the supernatural is only for a few gifted people is often reinforced by the fact that we’ve prayed for ourselves and we’re still not healed. And when we do get up the courage to pray for someone else it’s usually someone who has received prayer from hundreds of others and has not yet been healed.
If you’re a beginner, failure to get yourself healed or to heal a difficult case is not a good measure of your healing ability. Would you expect a first-year art student to paint a replica of the Sistine Chapel? If you’re a beginner, you might start by praying for someone with a sprained ankle, knee pain, or carpal tunnel in their wrist. Orthopedic injuries like these are easy for beginners to heal.
Todd White operates powerfully in healing. Many hold him up as proof that God gives certain people special gifts. How else could he operate so effectively while the rest of us struggle miserably? Surely it must be because he’s gifted. There are two distinct ways in which healing operates and both work contrary to the way many of us have been taught.
One way is when healing manifests as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Like any other gift, when healing operates this way, it’s completely dependent upon the operation of the Holy Spirit through the individual. But consider this: when healing operates as a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is not something the individual possesses. The gift is not given to them. It’s a temporary manifestation of the Holy Spirit through them. Healing as a gift of the Holy Spirit is available to every believer and is distributed to us as He wills, though not equally. If you want to operate in the gift of healing (or any spiritual gift) Paul’s exhortation shows you what to do: Earnestly desire the best gifts and don’t be afraid to ask for them.
Healing is also part of the commission Jesus gave His disciples. When healing is used this way, it’s a matter of exercising authority, releasing power, or both. A king may require years of practice before learning to wisely exercise his authority. In the same way, healing by the exercise of authority is more like a skill that must be learned, than a gift.
In Luke chapter 10 we read about the commission Jesus gave His disciples to go out into the villages and heal the sick. He gave them power and authority to heal in His name. In chapter 11 he taught them a few things they would need to be successful: One was how to pray. The other was how to be persistent. I don’t think He chose the most talented or gifted people, but rather, the few who wouldn’t quit. The difficulties they were about to endure would require it.
Talents are blessings from God, but many times they remain undeveloped and never reach their potential. When God gives us a gift, He gives us a part of Himself. But too often, His gifts lie discarded and unused. Persistence is a different matter.
Persistence is an issue of the will. As such, it is under our control. You can’t do anything about the gifting or talent you haven’t received, but what you lack in talent or gifting you can acquire through persistence. If you train yourself to be persistent, you’ll eventually surpass those who operate merely out of gifting or talent. Persistence is the great equalizer.
I’ll close with this observation from Steve Harmon:
Years ago, David Hogan met a man he greatly admired. This man operated in healing, signs and wonders to a larger degree than David. And if you know David Hogan, you know he moves in a high level of the power of God. David asked the man, “What’s the secret to your success?” The man replied, “When all the others quit, I kept going.”
If you’re interested in learning more, I wrote an entire chapter on this subject in my book Divine Healing Made Simple.