Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, May 20

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...
—Romans 12:6

Few things are as satisfying as doing a job well—and knowing it. We feel proud at such a moment, but more importantly, we feel like we really belong: what we do is of some value to the world.  Ironically, though, our culture tends to look at work as a burden, as something to be escaped as quickly as we can. What we do to “make a living” thus becomes nothing more than a prelude to retirement.

While it’s true that many of us are slaves to our jobs, letting our careers destroy relationships and ruin our health, it’s also true that good work is a tonic for the soul. As Marge Piercy writes in her poem “To Be of Use,”

The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

What we crave, in short, is work that grows out of our gifts.

In the Parable of the Talents—a “talent” in this case being a sum of money—Jesus makes it clear that God’s gifts are meant to be used. If they are hidden, whether out of denial or out of fear, they do become a burden. Put to good use, however, they play a part in our becoming, in the life-long process of living into the image of God.


O God, help me to use my gifts faithfully and well, always remembering that you will bless them in ways I may never see.

The Signposts for May are written by Susan Hanson and originally appeared on in September 2004.