Finding a Niche

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Lloyd D. Newell - The Spoken Word

One of the most frustrating, but important, aspects of life's journey can be the search to find our place in this world. We all need to be needed. We want to serve, and we want to feel as though we've made a difference. We all know that we've been given talents, but too often we are at a loss as to how to use them.

Perhaps we set our sights too high—hold ourselves to a standard beyond our capacity. The niche we find for ourselves may not necessarily be in the limelight. A talented basketball player can make a difference on the floor whether or not he or she ever plays professional basketball. A young musician may never become a Mozart, but he or she can still bless the world with the timeless gift of music. Sometimes it's enough to be a friend, listen sympathetically to a troubled heart, or offer encouragement when a neighbor is “having a bad day.”

One of the great challenges of parenting can be helping children find their own sense of purpose and hidden talents. A father was near despair over his sullen, uncommunicative teenage son. Day after day the boy sat in his room listening to music and playing endless games on his computer that, to the father, offered little sense of hope or joy. He tried involving his son in sporting activities and other excursions that he himself enjoyed—but to no avail. The boy seemed to have given up completely. Then, one day the father discovered a poem the boy had written. He didn't read much poetry and couldn't understand what his son was trying to communicate. But the wise father realized that perhaps this might be a gift his son could and should develop. Instead of criticism and rejection, he offered words of encouragement and was truly pleased when one of his son's poems was accepted for publication. Although the son's talents and interests were different from his father's, they shared the same need for acceptance and accomplishment.

We owe it to ourselves to discover our talents and to find opportunities to share them. And we owe it to our family, friends, and neighbors to use our abilities in helpful ways. Even when we feel discouraged, lonely, or sometimes useless, we need to remember that God has given each of us great potential. We all have a place in life and in the lives of those we love.