5 Things That Are More Important Than Talent

“Your talents aren’t enough to do what God has asked of you. If they were, then you wouldn’t need God.”

If you’re leading a church, you’re probably gifted. God’s given you some skills that you bring out on a regular basis to build the church. Maybe it’s preaching or leadership. Perhaps you’re a great evangelist or strategic thinker. Maybe locked deep within you are the talents—the untapped potential—to be the next great movement-shaping church planter.

Unfortunately, talent just ain’t enough.

Your talents aren’t enough to do what God has asked of you. If they were, then you wouldn’t need God. Can you get to a certain level on your own? Sure. But to take the work of God in your hands to greater heights, you’re going to have to see that your talent alone just won’t cut it. Your people deserve you to be more than who you are naturally.

To your talent, you’ll need to add the following to steward your talent well:

1. Study

Don’t just rely on your gifts. Work your mind to make them better. Get that seminary degree. Dust off the Greek and Hebrew. Your people need you to know what you’re talking about. The discipline of study is one that many church planters feel they can overlook. “After all,” they say to themselves, “I’m busy doing the work.” The simple fact is that whatever people God entrusts to you, they deserve to have the most well-studied version of you they can get. So, study well.

2. Fidelity

Talent and faithfulness aren’t the same. In fact, a lot of talented people get discouraged and quit. Don’t.

Relying on your talent works, until it doesn’t. And when your mojo no longer works—the staff aren’t buying it, the people aren’t moved by it—you’d better have the stick-to-it-iveness to actually stick to it.

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In other words, you’ll have to become faithful to be truly fruitful.

3. Practice

Talent is really a sign of untapped potential. If you’re naturally a good communicator, imagine how good you’d be if you practiced. If you’re a good counselor, you might be great if you went after it more intentionally.

Take out the sermon the night before and practice the whole thing, twice. Do the hours, do the reps. Get better.

4. Coaching

Whatever your talent is, I guarantee there’s someone better at that thing than you. Find that person and beg them to coach you. Pay for it if you have to. You’re never too old, too good or too lofty to get good kick and a hug.

My most effective coaches and teachers weren’t people who praised me for how talented I was. They were folks who were entirely unimpressed by my talent, but moved by my potential enough to work with me. That’s a good coach. You need that coach.

5. Character

Finally—and probably most importantly—you need character. One of the first signs of a complete human disaster is when a man’s talents begin to outpace his character. He’s good, he knows it and the rules of holiness, confession, contrition and humility no longer apply.

Work on your character. It’s the internal structure that holds up your potential. How many more men must we watch utterly destroy their lives and do damage to the work of God because their character was simply far smaller than their Sunday attendance?

Church leader, your talents aren’t enough. But, they’re a great place to start. Get a plan and get to work on them to maximize your effectiveness for Jesus.

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Adam Mabry is a veteran church planter and lead pastor at Aletheia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. This story was originally posted on NewChurches.com, an organization dedicated to helping church plants and multisite ministries thrive.