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You want to give your talent away. Really!

Musician or a minister, composer or creative type, one thing is just about certain: We all have many demands on our time and our talents.  

Why would we ever want to 'waste' time just giving our gifts away for free to the whole world?

   If you love me, feed my sheep.

It helps to think of God's gifts, God's goals, and his call to us.  

Not only is it our job to copy our master in putting our talents to work feeding sheep - it's also a lot easier than you might think. Read on for three simple steps you can take today.

God's Gifts

If you are part of Christ's body, God has given you unique gifts to help strengthen your brothers and sisters, and bring others into his family.  

Sometimes we know these gifts are special, and we receive lots of recognition for them.  Other times, the gifts are no less important to God, but may not seem so valuable to us.  But they are all designed and given by him to bless us and bless others through us.

One of the most exciting responsibilities we have is to learn what our gifts are.  As we discover these gifts, God gives us the amazing opportunity to put them to work in building his kingdom.

God's Goals

God's main goal has never been a secret. He loves those in the world so much, he even sent his only son to die for them that they might be saved.

Jesus used every opportunity and every talent to achieve the goals of his father.  There were times it would have been understandable if he had used them just a little bit for his own sake - forty days without food will do that to you. But he was totally dedicated to following the will of the father who sent him.

That doesn't mean that our careers or work aren't important to God - they too are gifts from God, and he expects us to work if we want to eat.  But they are less important than God's main goal.  And money, fame and an easy life are not even on the list. Love, joy and obedience is where it's at.

God's Call

God has called each of us to labour in the field, and help bring in the harvest.  He expects us to use our talents in the service of his kingdom.  The more we are given, the more he expects from us.  

We are also expected to be wise in putting the talents to work, getting the maximum return.  We definitely don't want to be that servant with the one talent, and decide it's better to bury it than use it at all!

The return that's important to God is not money, of course.  Think of what Paul could have made from syndicating his letters - or all the good Jesus could have done by making the Sermon on the Mount pay-per-view.  

God points out that he knows we need food and clothes, and promises to provide them as we trust him.  But God's call was to get the word out to the world, never to hide our saving light under any bushel basket.  

Your Opportunity

If you love him, feed his sheep.

In our day, God has provided unprecedented opportunity for us to take his word to the world through writing, music and videos.

In 1990, a pastor with a great series of sermons or devotionals really had no choice but to sell it as a book.  There was just no other way to get it out there.  In 2000, a Christian singer really had no choice beyond singing in church, except to try get signed by a record company.  

But by 2010, we could easily afford to give these away.  One song God will use to reach someone on the other side of the planet you won't meet until heaven.  One sermon God will use to inspire a pastor to preach truth in a language you've never even heard of.  What an amazing blessing!

Give your work away? It might sound revolutionary, outrageous, almost unbelievable.

A lot like Jesus, in fact.  

Three Simple Steps

One last thing to check before you run out to change the world: You need to make sure your food is wholesome and will not poison the sheep.

The Good Shepherd that has already given his life for the sheep absolutely demands that from you, so take it very seriously.  Get your food really grounded on God's word: It is life to the sheep, and it is life to you.  Remember you are not on your own, he's sent his spirit to help you.

Then here are three ways you can copy Jesus:

  • License your work for free distribution

    It's as easy as marking your song, book or sermon CC-BY-NC-SA.  The Creative Commons license allows your work to be distributed freely around the world.

    Of course part of being wise is avoiding giving it away just so someone else locks it up to try make money from it.  Learn more how Free The Word can help you understand how to license your work to keep God's word flowing freely to the world.

  • Get God's word to the world

    It's no good freely licensing your song or sermon if it stays stuck in the back of your Bible. Get it on your church website. Post it on Facebook. Upload it to YouTube.  Give it away at school.

    And make sure people know you want them to copy it, and give it to their friend, their pastor, their family.  The CC license lets them know you're not going to sue them for spreading God's word!

  • Let the other disciples know what you are up to

    God will use some of your work to reach people directly - after all, if your work is based on his living word, it is more powerful than any two-edged sword or light saber.

    But feeding God's sheep is building up your brothers and sisters.  For your work to do that, they need to know that it's there, and that you want to share it with them freely.  

    Tell them!

    Through your church or denomination website, through that inter-church Christian roller-skating night.  Consider signing your church up to the Free The Word pledge, and distributing your music through DeoSound.

    And remember you don't have to use DeoSound at all - in fact it saves DeoSound money when you distribute your work through these other channels.  But websites like DeoSound make it easier for other Christians to find your work, and put it to work for God.

One final word: There are Christian musicians, writers, filmmakers and many others whose existence depends on paid work.  

What they do is sometimes simply still too expensive for them to be able to give it away, in other cases it is just good entertainment - not ministry - and we should be willing to pay for it if we want it.

So share what is free, and put it to work in your life and church. Encourage your brothers and sisters to make more and more of God's word free. But never steal what is not free.

God's gifts. God's goals. God's call. Three easy steps.