A gifted people

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

Gifted. It is one of the most peculiar words in the dictionary. I deem this word peculiar because its synonyms set a range for uniqueness that suggests that the words are not of the same meaning but belong to the same family.

The Google search engine provides the following synonyms for gifted: talented, skillful, skilled, accomplished, expert, consummate, master(ly), first-rate, polished, adroit, dexterous, able, competent, capable, apt, deft, adept, proficient, intelligent, clever, bright, brilliant, quick, sharp, perceptive, precocious, advanced, forward, mature and genius. Looking at these words next to one another, I am tempted to play a game of sorting least to greatest. I am certain I would fail in my attempt. Sorting these words is not as easy as placing absolute values on a number line. My sorting begs the question of whether to be apt is the same as being an expert? Does being mature mean that you’re brilliant? Should competency be as lauded and admired as mastery? I believe these synonyms intentionally cause us to consider the ways we judge giftedness.


Email newsletter signup

I was blessed with talented children. I tell them that they are each uniquely gifted and the world does not have a test that measures how much. In some ways, their gifted abilities are not according to the normal accepted criteria of what is labeled artistically, academically, athletically, creatively or naturally gifted. But I don’t believe that just of my children; I believe that for every human being. I believe that of God’s children.

In 1 Peter 4, we are reminded not to waste our lives as pagans and prodigals do. The chapter opens with a vivid description of the difference between living for God and not doing so. Verses 10-11 say, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” Notice the scripture says, “Each of you.” God did not skip anyone in the gift-giving department. We were born with gifts, but it takes us being enriched by the Creator to operate our gifts effectively.

In our school system here in Suffolk, we have what we credit to be gifted and talented education. Students assigned to Quality Utilization Enrichment of Students’ Talents, known as QUEST, and other programs receive instruction and opportunities to stimulate their development in their artistic and academic skillfulness. The beauty of giftedness from God is that skilled human ability is not necessary to be used by God. God does not judge our qualification for a gift on our human nature. He has endued us with the power of the Holy Spirit. If our giftedness were operable in accordance with man’s judgment of what is artistically, academically, athletically, creatively or naturally gifted, then we would be a bunch of self-reliant people. Yet God in His infinite wisdom has made us gifted in many different ways so that we are much like the synonyms of gifted. They are a family of words related by meaning. We are to be a family of people related by our means. We each have a unique purpose, and God gifted each of us with an innate means or resource that fits that purpose. God’s enrichment of our giftedness involves giving us opportunities to link with others of different means so that we are fully developed citizens of His kingdom. I just love how God does His work.

Congratulations, you are accepted into the Q.U.E.S.T!

This school year, I encourage the administrators, parents, citizens and children of our city to consider all of us as members of the Quality Utilization Enrichment of Suffolk’s Talents. We all can benefit from instruction and opportunities that stimulate our development into fully grown, skilled becomers. Until the day God calls us home, He intends for us to use our gifts to glorify Him.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net.