Day X.

If you’ve been following that last attempt at a series, I’d like to apologize. Just to keep you guys in the loop, after my birthday, I went all out stupid when it comes to not working out and eating whatever I wanted. I went even further by not having a daily Excel schedule ready.

Around 10 pounds and, what, 12-13 days later, here I am, making ready for this Sunday’s message.

Here’s the thing. For the past 2 Sundays, we didn’t have any physical services over at church, so we resorted to recording worship and a message. This meant that we kept on going with our series, which was based off of John Maxwell’s book, Beyond Talent.

I also felt it necessary to add in some of my own worldview and narrative while I spoke week after week about the values to supposedly add onto talent for us to be, in John Maxwell’s words, ‘Talent Plus’ people. Call it a little selfish; it’s mostly for myself when I share it, keeping in mind what I first heard from Jim Kwik – if you teach something, you learn it twice. So as I shared my narrative to others, I was preaching it again and again to myself as well, and I suppose, 4-5 times in, that other things to add to and bolster my narrative have shown up.

Lest we forget, what is this something something I chose to inject? Well, it’s just that I’m making the assumption that (1) every human has his or her own Foundation, (2) our Beliefs are built upon the said Foundation, and (3) our Being – our physical and mental aspects – manifests from our Beliefs.

In talking about this, and linking it to Talent, I add (4) that knowledge, skill, and will are part of our Being, and (5) our Talents are our knowledge, skill, and will working together. Or rather, when what we know (knowledge), what we do (skill), and what we feel strongly about (will) work together, these are our Talents.

As I say this again and again, whether we were at our physical services or during the times I had to record my message, I’ve learned that a way for us to determine our Foundation, down to the very core, is for us to answer for ourselves: Who loves you? And again, who really, really loves you?

So that’s what I kept saying, each and every time, before I dove in to the actual message.

Well, before that, I did a recap of any prior items.

Belief lifts your Talent – It’s not the other way around. You don’t draw your beliefs from your talent. You may see a semblance of what you believe from your talents as you do them, but you don’t define your beliefs based solely on what you’re doing.

I don’t have a time limit in writing all this so I guess I can expound on this a little more. In fact, I may go back to my narrative and add a few things here and there.

Your beliefs last far longer than your talents will ever last. You change what you know, and what you do, and what you feel strongly about, depending on time and circumstance, and therefore, your talents change over time. There may be talents you’ve had ever since childhood, but guess what – it was your firm belief that kept your talent intact. This is the relationship between the two.

Passion energizes your Talent – When I spoke on this I mentioned that Passion is important to talent the same way will is a component to your talent. I suppose you can interchange the two.

However, I emphasized on the truth that even if we ourselves lack the passion or will necessary in our being to truly utilize talent, then we ought to bring ourselves to remember how Christ was passionate for us. We remember how in His passion and will and enthusiasm for us, He lay everything – from divine glory to human possessions and ultimately His life – for us.

Our good Pastor Jopet was nice enough to remind me that Christ may give passion, but Christ Himself is our Passion. While I adapted a responsive approach for us to recover our passion, by saying Christ is our Passion, Pastor Jopet tells us that Christ is a proactive as well as a reactive passion for one and all who believe.

Initiative activates your Talent – Initiative has its role in activating our talent, but vision has its role, just as belief does in lifting our talent overall. In other words, initiative may activate our talent, but vision activates our initiative.

Just having a vision, no matter how broad or specific, gives us infinitely more cause and initiative to get out of bed soon as we wake up in the morning.

And, as always, if we lack initiative, this may mean we forget or lack our vision – and for those of us in Christ, we have no less than the Creator of the Universe to give us a vision we need, not just for a 10 year plan, but to get us through the day, the week, etc.; The One who gave us sight is surely the best Source of vision.

Focus directs your Talent – As I said that vision activates our initiative, and initiative our talent, it is necessary for us to focus – that is, to clarify our talent as necessary – that we would know how our talents (and even those of others) contribute to the fulfilment of a vision. So to apply it to our morning grind, initiative takes us out of bed, and focus takes us straight into what we do.

To be honest, the message I shared last Sunday was a little rushed, but writing all of this down and seeing how it all progresses helps me – I hope it helps whoever reads this as well.

This Sunday, we tackle the next Chapter – Preparation positions your Talent.

I am blessed with this detailed (focused?) backdrop to work with before I jump into this message to see how preparation works with the previous virtues discussed, but JB in the past was pretty keen in his foresight by recording thoughts that came up when he listened to the audiobook of Beyond Talent the first time.

These thoughts pointed towards two characters – one who existed for real, and another fictional character. Not really sure how I start this but I’ll probably figure it out as I go along.

Everyone enjoyed Heath Ledger as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. I certainly loved his pencil trick. But I feel as if we haven’t given enough credit to Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. He’s a villain I kind of rooted for, but more admired as a formidable and real threat to Batman.

(Spoiler Alert)

He had a lot of really good lines – much more than Batman – that I’m inclined to share at one time or another, but for purposes of this message, I will share that one line he had while he was systematically breaking down his enemy the very first time they met – ‘Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you.’

(I had to open it on YouTube really quick to confirm I had the right words)

“Theatricality and deception… powerful agents to the uninitiated, but we ARE initiated, aren’t we Bruce?”

“You fight like a younger man, nothing held back. Admirable, but mistaken.”

I absolutely love these lines. I mean, it’s been 9 years since The Dark Knight Rises came out, but in these lines are wisdom to last decades, if not centuries.

Batman suffered a crushing defeat in this fight, simply because Bane was prepared. Batman wasn’t. Bane prepared, and his talent was positioned with such precision that he didn’t break a sweat. Batman was caught completely by surprise and was therefore positioned to suffer.

Lack of preparation also positions your talent… to lose.

(End of Spoiler Alert)

Another story I’d like to talk about brings us back to the days of the Roman Empire, to one of my favourite historical figures. Everyone remembers Julius Caesar, but today, I talk about Gaius Cornelius Scipio, known for his conquests as Scipio Africanus.

We may not know this, but there were few times that Rome was under serious danger – one of these times was when military genius Hannibal Barca, backed by his powerful Carthaginian army, invaded the empire by way of Spain, and then rampaged through the Italian peninsula.

Scipio’s father was one of the many to fall in the battles Hannibal won versus the Romans, but although this was personal for him, he developed a sort of respect for his adversary, analyzing his tactics and how he could counter the strategies of his Carthaginian ‘Teacher’.

Eventually, Scipio methodically turned the tide against Hannibal, to the point that the latter considered negotiating with the younger commander. Hannibal wanted a truce, but Scipio responded: Bellum parate, quoniam pacem pati non potuistis // Prepare for war, since you have been unable to endure the peace.

In the Battle of Cannae, the Romans were utterly slaughtered by Scipio’s superior strategies.

In this Battle of Zama, it was the Romans who had the upper hand, even if Hannibal had the advantage of experience, and elephants.

2 Things: (1) It could be said that Hannibal wasn’t necessarily prepared for what to do as soon as he conquered up until the gates of Rome itself. Preparation has to be long-term. (2) Preparation also has to be real-time. Batman and Hannibal could have had a chance of winning if they had kept on updating their preparations.

We like to prepare a lot, especially when it comes to our Anniversary here in Good News. We prepare by way of skill and by way of logistics and equipment, and although I don’t really subscribe to my feelings as a basis for my relationship with Christ, I don’t know, my being is still so stimulated, as I would imagine many in attendance would also be feeling, right after we worship for that hour, during that one day every year.

The preparations we do are from a union of initiative and focus, as we are driven, and we are detailed. And even if we may come across as overthinking, hey, we just can’t be perfectly prepared.

To segue, this is why I think the way I do about preparation: We can certainly be 0% prepared for anything and everything, but we can never be 100% prepared. It’s just our nature as created, much more fallen beings. No, the best way for us to approach preparation is for us to remember that we aren’t guaranteeing anything, but in preparation we increase our chances of winning, and decrease our chances of losing. Solomon himself said, the fight is not always to the strong, nor the race always to the swift, but chance happens upon all of us.

Of course, it’s another thing to practice, but – spoiler – we’re talking about that next week.

For now, especially when it comes to the choices we have which involve the most out of our beings and our beliefs, I would say that it is necessary for us, first and foremost, to prepare.

We prepare by way of planning our moves, and projecting most likely circumstances. We prepare by way of our actions, and our reactions.

We prepare so when the times come, we are not only ready, but confident.

We prepare, not only for the short term wins, but for the long-term victories.

We prepare, and we keep preparing, knowing that anything can happen.

We prepare, and we are brought to the best position possible.

Let’s pray.

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