Have you ever heard someone in conversation say, "...but she had so much potential..."? Oftentimes, when we do not live up the expectations that other people have of us, we disappoint them. Those expectations may be too high at times. From a kernel of talent, some people (um, parents) may believe that we can succeed at a higher level...if we will only try harder. Other times, we may have an abundance of talent in an area, but lack the internal motivation to develop it into something truly great. Or it may be that we do not understand that in some areas, preparation is mandatory. And because we fail to take the proper steps in that direction in a timely manner - we fall short - and the people who invested in us are disappointed.
Within all of us is the potential to offer something for God's glory while we are here. He designed it that way. While many already know what talents you possess, some are still hearing the mantra about striving to do better. I'd like to offer another perspective.
Have you ever thought about asking God what He wants to do with your life? After all, He gave it to you in the first place, and He has ideas and plans designed specifically for you. The funny thing is, in all your striving, you may not have considered the possibility that you may be so frustrated in life because you are trying to meet everyone else's expectations and not His. None of us possess the same aptitudes, preferences or gifts. He made us all for a specific purpose.
You may have struggled in school, with shyness, or self-control. We all struggle with something. Be willing to allow God the opportunity to root out the items and agendas in your life that are not what He wants for you at this time. Find some accountability through friends, family, or mentors. Appreciate those who encourage and support you. Continue to ask God to guide you to areas where He wants you to develop your potential.
If you have a particular talent, it does not necessarily mean that you will have the desire to develop that talent properly right now. You may be older or retired before you find an outlet for an area in which you are gifted.
It may also be that you know that you have a gift or talent, but nobody else seems to notice it. Believe me, He will find a way for you to use it in some capacity at exactly the right time, and you will feel a joy that words cannot express.
Or you may believe that a gift or talent that you have that everyone raves about is no big deal because it came to you with such little effort. Just know that all of us are blessed with gifts and abilities that may seem very simple to us, but are extraordinarily difficult for others. He planned it that way so that we can serve each other.
Sometimes a talent or interest gives us a connection with another person that He wants in the kingdom, but was not really meant to be fully developed over time. Other times, He gives us a gift, talent, or trait for a specific purpose. He has also been known to give others an intense desire to succeed in an area so that they can inspire other people by their actions.
In Romans 9:21 it says, "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" Not all of us are meant to be displayed, but all of us are meant to be used somehow for the kingdom. Mother Teresa paraphrased this when she said, "Not all of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love."
Just remember that your potential is a gift. It may not last forever. Offering God your best through your effort and submission to His will is only possible by avoiding laziness, making the best use of time and opportunities, and appreciating your gifts instead of coveting the gifts He gave to other people. Encourage others to do their best. Applaud the successes of other people - especially those who point the glory back to God - where it belongs.
The sacrifices that others make on our behalf to develop our potential vary dramatically. When we are younger, we take these for granted. Sometimes we don't discover it all until we are sacrificing for someone else. If we are lucky, we have the opportunity to say "thank you" to those who spent hours of their lives, dollars from their wallets, and prayers from their lips on our behalf. In reality, the host of those who have supported us is larger than we consciously think about most of the time and includes family, neighbors, teachers, church members, bosses, coworkers, friends, and sometimes strangers.
So when you see potential in others...encourage them. Sometimes, people need to know that you see the glory of God shining through them. You never know...your words and support could be exactly what makes the difference in that potential being developed into something beautiful...or being wasted.