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Friday, January 20, 2017

A Cautionary Tale for Kids

He is the eldest of 3 children. This family was blessed in that all 3 children were born highly intelligent and highly talented in music. Unfortunately, the eldest child detested the kind of diligent practice required to hone his talent. He did not like to play his piano pieces again and again, each time refining one part of his musical genius. As a result, his progress in music fell behind his younger siblings, who went on to perform at illustrious international venues, on top of getting good grades in school.

This child started with me in P3. Very early on, I identified that he was bursting at the seams with writing talent. Without trying, he was asked by his school to apply to the GEP Unit's Creative Arts Programme. His mother asked me to prepare him. I declined. He was already so uncooperative with regards to my PSLE syllabus that it was like pulling teeth. I could not imagine getting him to write with the joy and passion required for the CAP.

He had somehow got it into his head that work was undesirable. Being an intelligent boy, he bent his mind to subverting every one of his Mom's efforts to help him develop his writing talent. He stole the thumb drive wherein the model answers were stored and regularly copied from there. There was no outsmarting him. He bent his entire IQ to making sure that he did not have to do work the hard way.

Things came to a head 2 weeks ago. The last had become first and the first had become last. 2 of my weakest writers pulled ahead of him in early P6. It was demoralising. How do you get through to a boy who uses all his intelligence to destroy himself? I prayed and God provided an answer in the form of the Parable of the Talents.

For those who don't know, the word "talent" can mean "coin".

A rich man left on a long journey. Before he left, he called 3 servants to him. To the first servant, he gave 5 talents. To the second servant, he gave 2 talents. To the third servant, he gave 1 talent.

The first servant used the money and worked hard. He doubled his 5 talents to 10 talents. The second servant also used the money to good purpose and worked hard. He doubled his 2 talents to 4 talents. The last servant buried his single talent.

When the rich man came home from his travels, he called all 3 servants to accounting. To the first servant, he said, " Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in little. Now, I will give you more talents." To the second servant, he said, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in little. Now, I will give you more talents."

The 3rd servant came to him and said, "You are a hard taskmaster, strict and fierce. I was afraid of you so I buried your talent. Here, you can have it back now."

To the 3rd servant, he said, "You wicked and lazy fellow! You knew that I reap the results of others' hard work. You knew that I am a demanding task master, strict and fierce. You work for me and knowing all that I am strict and fierce, you dare to have done nothing with the talent I gave you? I will take back my talent and you will have nothing."

What most children don't realise is that God has a purpose for each one of us. From those of us who are given clear talents from the outset, God expects us to develop those talents and make them grow. To those of us who diligently do that, God will give more talents and more opportunities. From those who refuse to develop our talents, God will actually REMOVE the talents. God takes them away.

Intelligent kids do not STAY intelligent. This is the reason why many high potential students outperform the GEP students even though the GEP students were born with greatly enhanced mental capacity. Musical genius disappears! One is then good for nothing but picking out pop tunes on a home piano.

Children, if you take your talents for granted, God will take them away. You may be born intelligent but you will become stupid if you are too lazy to exercise your intelligence. You may be born musically talented but you will lose the gift if you are too lazy to exercise your gift.

This is the reason why Dr. Pet insists on working hard even though I don't have to. I am not greedy. I reckon that there is only so much money I can spend in a lifetime (especially since I don't buy branded goods nor do I have especially luxurious tastes). There are times when the spirit of laziness creeps up on me and I toy with the idea of completely retiring and spend my days reading, cooking and cycling.

My greatest fear is that God will take away my talents and one day, even if I want to work, I will not know how to do what I now do. I used to speak French fluently enough to do real-time bilingual interpretation work. I cannot do that anymore. I used to be able to remember every single date in the history textbook after reading it ONCE at the beginning of the year. I took my gift for granted and did not exercise it. I cannot do it anymore.

We are all given gifts and talents by God because God has in mind for each one of us, a life purpose. Some people's giftings are not obvious. Others' gifts look like handicaps. However, the singular truth about all our giftings and talents are that God expects us to exercise them and develop them so that we can achieve the purpose He set out for us. It may take a while for us to find the purpose God has for us but meanwhile, He still expects us to develop those giftings and talents.

Else, God will remove them from us. It has happened to me. It can happen to you.

Children think that their parents are hard task masters, strict and fierce. So, they decide to do the minimum possible to please this hard task master. Children, it is not your parents you must please, it is your own talents you need to protect.

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