I've heard the story many times. Or at least variations of the story. The basic gist is that there is a man or woman who is exceptional at something—“He was professional at the piano; he could’ve played at Carnegie Hall,” for example. “Then he was called into God’s Church, and he didn’t think he could pursue the piano anymore because a lot of concerts are on the Sabbath. So he gave it up and chose a profession he really wasn’t passionate about, and did it only to make money to live.”
I’ve been thinking about that story lately. It’s such a tragic story to me, because as someone who’s been raised in the Church and who sees amazing things being done all the time by amazing people, I can’t help but wonder about my own dreams.
Am I going to have to choose between what’s right and doing something incredible?
If I want to make a dent in the universe, is that even possible without compromising God’s way?
I really hope so. But when negativity and doubts are easy to come by, what am I choosing to do day-by-day?
The thing that bothers me about the story is that the guy gave up before he even tried to make a go of his dream. He was exceptionally talented, headed on a track to become famous and successful but when He was called by God, instead of knocking on doors to see which ones might open, he assumed none of them would open anyway and walked away. He didn’t work to try and make success on his own terms, he just assumed it wouldn’t work out and gave up.
Jesus gave a metaphor to describe how He wants us to live our lives (Matthew 25:14-30 Matthew 25:14-30  For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.
 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
 But he that had received one went and dig in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
 After a long time the lord of those servants comes, and reckons with them.
 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
 His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
 His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed:
 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: see, there you have that is yours.
 His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed:
 You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury.
 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents.
 For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has.
 And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
American King James Version×). In the metaphor, a king gives money to his servants to look after while he’s away. The word used for the money is “talent,” which was a unit of weight used for money at the time. The story explains that each servant was given a different amount of money based on his or her ability as a servant. While the king was away, the servants each use the money differently to make more money; that is, except one. One person, who was only given one talent, did nothing with the talent. “I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground,” he said when his king had returned to settle accounts.
He was afraid! His fear was based on a misunderstanding of his king, and it paralyzed him into doing nothing.
The metaphor gives us all kinds of lessons about many different aspects of life, but the one I want to draw out is that we are each given skills (talents) by God, and He wants us to use them. The servants in the story were expected to take the money given them and put it to use—by trading, by investing, by putting it in a bank account to earn interest. Likewise, we are each given talents and skills, and God expects us to put them to good use—by developing them, by using them to serve others, by making a living with them.
If you have a dream, if you have a passion, if you have a talent, put in the hard work to pursue them! If your motivation is to succeed so that you can serve God and His people better, God can and will reward you by opening doors for you.
If you can use your talent to serve at Church in some way, great! Doing so can inspire and help God’s people. If you make a successful living out of following your passion, good! Because then you can use the money you earn or the skill itself to help God’s people. If your talent fulfills you creatively, good! Because that means you will be mentally and emotionally healthy and therefore better able to serve God and His people.
Every single path you can take will require you to make decisions—big or small, right or wrong, left or right. How you decide shapes who you are and what kind of character you have. This is true no matter if you’re working a job you hate or a job you love. Taking the path of least resistance is a decision that shapes who you are, just like choosing to take a risk and pursue your dream does. Do you make decisions that lead you closer to fulfilling your dream or making an impact on the world with your talent?
God doesn’t want us to choose the easy thing—He wants us to dream big, take a risk and use what He’s given us to make a dent in the universe. After all, His calling is for each of us to make the biggest dent in the universe ever in His Kingdom.
There have been people who had a dream, pursued it with all they had, and had to give it up because there really was no way forward without sinning against God—those doors truly were all closed.
There have been people who had a dream and God gave them an even bigger, better dream, so they followed that instead. The thing is, they gave it a shot.
Just don’t be like one of the people who pursued their dream and ended up compromising on God’s way in exchange for success—those people will always earn the consequences of that sin. No one who chooses to obey God, instead of success earned by compromise, will ever regret it.
There are nearly limitless possibilities for how you can live your life. It is not an either-or choice between following God and doing something great. Don’t sell yourself short. Use what God has given you to dream big and serve Him.