The following challenge comes from NRBA Player Development Instructor Andrew Ocampo. Andrew is a true Man of God committed to making disciples in this generation.
Training is the teaching or developing of oneself in a specific skill or knowledge. Many of you of course train yourself in basketball. Or maybe some of you have moved onto other aspirations now and are training in another sport or activity. It might be football, track, soccer, band, dance, and other academic activities. But all of these skills share the common reality that training, and practice must become a priority in order to reach your full potential. If you do not train the skill, you cannot wish it to improve on its own. It takes time, discipline, effort, and sacrifice.
Take the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. In this parable, the master entrusted three servants each with a certain amount of money. He did this to see what each servant would do with what he was given. Two of the servants invested the money and earned more which pleased the master. In verse 21, the master says, “Come share in the master’s joy!” But the third servant refused to risk using the money entrusted to him and his master was not pleased. Even more, he missed out on sharing in the master’s joy which he would have experienced if only he had invested the gift given to him! This is what happens when we fail to follow Christ and not use the talents that He has given to us to glorify His name. Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17) and God wants us to use those special gifts so that we can share in and experience His joy. Therefore, we must train the gift and use it to the best of our ability.
But we must remember that in training our special gift in this world, we must not forget that “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness has value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8. While training to shoot a basketball, play an instrument, or ace a test is very important to us and should be important, it still comes second to becoming more like Christ and pursuing a personal relationship with God. We must remember that these things are temporary and cannot hold fully satisfy our heart and soul. Where then shall we look? We must look beyond what is seen and to a God that is unseen that can fully satisfy (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
By ultimately setting our eyes on the Father and the eternal things He values (Romans 8:5-8), we can train ourselves to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2). Jesus modeled this out perfectly for us and we should follow his lead. When we imitate Jesus, we will find ourselves closer to God and get to more fully experience the love and joy that He holds for us (Psalm 16:11).
In summary, God has called us to steward our gifts and talents by taking the model of Christ and imitating Him so that we reflect His image on this earth.