Years ago I got a fortune cookie that read:

“Talents that aren’t shared aren’t talents.”

I believed in that fortune because I believed that we are all here to help each other with our individual gifts and talents.

God has given us all unique talents and He has bestowed a number of them in my spirit. My talents have been a wonderful conduit between my imagination and reality. I’ve been able to connect with others in order to help bring their dreams to life as well.

My God-given talents in music, visual arts, technology and writing have paved a colorful life experience to this point. I’m excited to see how God will use my talents as I embark in ministry; however, that excitement is tempered with an apprehension — a reluctancy birthed from the faded and darkened hues of my life’s pavement.

I’ve never been arrogant about my gifts because they are not mine and can be taken away at any moment. Humility is very important to me. I believe that my gifts have made room for me versus my pushing and forcing my way into a opportunity. Having a humble spirit enables you to connect, create and bless others from a God-perspective instead of a “me” perspective. Being quick to give God the glory and credit for my creativity has kept me grounded and opened a lot of doors.

So why is it such a struggle?

I don’t fight arrogance or wrestle with a hunger for the spotlight. Those darkened colors along my life’s journey are painted by two types of individuals who plague my peace with their own agendas: the opportunists and those whom I called “ordinarials.”

Opportunists have a keen sense of smell when it comes to humility. It’s been my experience that they zero in on that humility in order to exploit it. I’ve had my share of scenarios where people are impressed by my multi-talents to the point where their minds conjure several ways to overextend my abilities for their own personal gain.

They could care less about my schedule, how much rest I got, if I spent time with my children or whoever else I’m neglecting to help them look good. Their timelines were often unrealistic, extremely selfish and worst of all…horrendously unimaginative. And there’s nothing worse than having someone with seemingly remedial creativity, micromanage your boundless imagination with limitations and apathy.

The opportunists in my life could care less about the kindgom, my life or my gifts outside of their requests. I found myself putting so much of myself into their dream, without so much as a “thank you” or confirmation receipt. Why? Because they knew they could do it. They wouldn’t have pulled that with an arrogant talent.

But the operative word is “knew” (past-tense).

My second struggle is with ordinarials – those people who have settled for mediocrity and shun you because you haven’t done the same. I don’t think I’m better than them because I’ve tapped into my stash of talents and they haven’t. In fact, I believe more ordinarials have yet to scratch the surface of their capabilities – yet, they find comfort and fuel stubbornness with phrases such as “That’s how we’ve always done it” or “We don’t do it that way” or “Everybody ain’t as <insert sarcastic adjective here> as you.”

They smell the humility (which in this case, is just another word for “I’m not gonna stoop down to curse you out”) and have often written me off as passive or easy to manipulate – simply because I don’t shove my gifts down anyone’s throat. Mediocrity pains my spirit because I believe God made us all extraordinary in our own way. But so many people don’t go for the extra. “It don’t take all that” resonates in the environment of the ordinarials.

I smile to keep my joy in their presence. They seem to resent me for wanting to use my gifts to help and attempt to leverage my humility to diminish my efforts. It’s a weird relationship.

I’m older and my tolerance level for both kinds of people is almost non-existent. I know my heart. I know I’m talented. I’m super-talented. I’m exponentially blessed and I’m just getting started in channeling these talents into their true purpose: giving glory to God and helping others.

I cannot let the opportunists drain me and keep my off focus. I refuse to let ordinarials make me feel bad for being the way God made me. More importantly, I will not allow anger and resentment manage how I interact with them nor create a shield of conceit against them. I’m no better than anyone else, but I’m definitely not less than either.

Humility is a tightrope I struggle to balance and everyday I pray God keeps me from falling.