By Anthony Casperson
I’ve mentioned before that, when it comes to various types of RPGs, I very much tend toward a roguish build. There’s just something about being the character who has access to many skills that excites me. Sure, the character’s not as battle ready as the pure fighter. And they often won’t have access to more esoteric abilities, like magic, psionics, or healing powers. But put them in a situation where brute force and flashy spectacle are less helpful, then they will shine.
The problem is that games often set characters in places where fighting is a big part of the game. Thus, a squishier character becomes less desirable. Or the image of a person throwing out a huge blast of power emanating from their will alone becomes an envied ability. And those who can’t perform such tremendous acts look lackluster. The various skills tend toward the back seat and only come out on occasion. The one who is skilled is useful, but not typically celebrated in high praise.
A sermon I listened to this past week reminded me of this as the preacher spoke about how God uses the skills we’ve attained to work his will. The pastor’s point came from the life of David before he became king. We see David not only taking the role of shepherd, learning how to face down huge odds while protecting the helpless, but also a man who had honed the skill of playing a stringed instrument of some design. Basically, we see David rocking a guitar for King Saul’s tormenting spirit in 1 Sam. 16.
This skill allowed David to enter the palace as a servant long before he took the role of king (though he had already been anointed as the next king of Israel in secret). The pastor took a second to ask why it was that we so often want to speed along our process in God’s plan of what he wants for us to do, without developing the skills that God will use as he accomplishes it. Why do we want the celebration of great things without the development of our skill?
He answered that we followers of Jesus would rather “depend on God” than build up the very skills he was panning on using in us to accomplish his goal. We tend to take the lazy way when it comes to working God’s plan, thinking that if he wants us to do something then he’ll just Matrix this skill into us, rather than spending the years, and perhaps decades, of working out our skills.
Biblically, there is precedence of God using the developed skills of those whom he calls, which he worked in them as they walked in line with him, before he called for the great work. Not only do we see this in the life of David, but we could look at the life of Moses.
He spent 40 years learning the laws and regulations of the Egyptian government before being exiled into shepherding for another 40 years. (Maybe there’s something to be said about taking care of defenseless beings before leading a large group of people.) And only after that, did God call him to lead the Israelites out of slavery and into becoming a nation.
In a recent sermon, I spoke about Ezra being skilled in the Law of Moses. The word for “skilled” there meaning “swift to understand” or “quick to comprehend.” There’s this sense of Ezra spending years, perhaps decades, studying the command of God before he was appointed by the king to help the returned exiles of Israel come back in line with the ways of God. He spent quite some time developing the very thing God would call him to perform in the life of others.
This same word for “skilled” used in Ezra 7 is found in Prov. 22:29. Solomon writes that a skilled person will stand before kings, not people of obscurity. The skilled will be called to great things because they have developed the things needed to solve problems that others can’t.
When we develop skills of various kinds, God can use them to accomplish great feats that no act of brute force or flashy powers could accomplish. What skills are being worked in you by God? What is it in the future that God will call you to that has made him develop the very skill he’s honing in you right now? Let’s not downplay the skillful gifts of God. Their moment will come to shine. And we will be grateful when they do.