Heart VS Talent

“Ya got heart, kid,” my middle school track coach shouted at me as I tumbled forward for the 28th time, falling short of the long jump mark I was meant to hit. I loved running track, but the field events were always a thorn in my side. I made the varsity team for the 100 meter individual and 200 meter relay. I was also included in the exposition team for the long jump. (If you don’t know, exposition is the group of kids that aren’t good enough to be on the real team, but the coaches let them ‘have a go’ because they had the guts to try out.)  Being on varsity made me so proud, yet the blemish on my track career was my field event. I was absolutely determined to work my way up to varsity long jump. I had the heart, but I didn’t have the skill.

Developing our skills, whether athletic or creative, is really important to our personal growth. Sometimes we have a desire to do something and it’s matched with humility yet lacking in skill. How many times, though, have you come across an enthusiastic creative - someone buzzing with excitement about their latest art piece or song or creative endeavor - but their creativity is lacking the skills to back up their level of passion? “It’s just not good,” I’ve had that said to me by a critic. I’ve also heard, “you’re off pitch,” and “you’re not what we’re looking for.”

Those words sting, but, man, I’m so grateful for the honesty. I’m grateful for team leaders, coaches, and professionals who recognized my heart and were willing to be patient with me as I developed my skills. Attitudes reveal a person’s heart. Teachability and humility go a long way with any personal endeavor to grow. I heard Amanda Cook (Bethel Worship) say, “humility is simply accepting our humanity and need for Jesus.” Acceptance of where we are at in the journey is absolutely humbling, and self-awareness should be a consistent effort.

I’ve attended many ministry Q&A’s where the question is asked: what do you look for on your teams, heart or talent? I’m always shocked by this, because to me it’s a no-brainer. HEART! After 10 years in ministry, though, I absolutely sympathize with the people who would answer ‘talent.’ It’s rough getting through a Sunday (or a concert, or choreography, or building a business) with a bunch of people who have a ‘great heart’ but they have little to no skills. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

Honestly, it is difficult to find trustworthy people who have both the right attitude and the skills to move something forward. I’ve been the person with all heart and barely any skill. I’ve also been in situations where I have the right skills but my attitude is far from desirable. I’ve been in leadership looking for people who have both heart and talent, so I know how taxing the search can be. What I think is most important; regardless of a person’s skill level, they have to be humble - they have to have teachability. Someone who is humble and teachable can develop their skills, and hopefully you are the type of leader who is patient enough to come alongside them as they develop. Hopefully, you are the type of creative who realizes you never ‘arrive’ we all can grow and up-skill. Prioritize the heart and invest into the talent.

Ashlee Wright