When I was a young elementary school student, I distinctly remember being on the playground and imagining that I could fly. That’s probably not all that surprising to you, but all these years later, what makes me chuckle is my desired destination and purpose. I didn’t dream of flying off to Hawaii or using my superpower to go rescue someone in need. No, I planned to only fly right across the street to my buddy’s house, just so I wouldn’t have to go back in the classroom and finish the school day! Apparently, as a 7- or 8-year-old, if I had a superpower, I wouldn’t use it in all that super of a way, and I would use it only for myself!
What about you? If you had one superpower, what would it be, and what would you do with it?
It may not surprise you that most people can quickly tell you what superpower they would choose. But it may surprise you to learn that many people are a lot like the younger version of me when it comes to what they would do with their superpower.
In 2013, the radio show This American Life did a series of interviews asking people those two questions: What superpower would you choose? And what would you do with it?
Most people immediately answered the first question as if they had already been thinking about it (I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one!), but what they planned to do with it was surprising. It was nothing heroic. Nothing brave. Nothing all that thrilling, even. It was a lot like me: ordinary, ho-hum, and aimed at serving themselves.
One woman’s first thought was to use invisibility to be a petty thief, going to clothing stores and taking all the cashmere sweaters she wanted.
Another man said he would use his invisibility to listen in on what others said about him.
Others wanted to sneak into movies or sneak onto airplanes.
According to John Hodgman of This American Life, “Here’s one thing that pretty much no one ever says: I would use my power to fight crime. No one seems to care about crime.”
Case-in-point: the guy who said, “I don’t think I would want to spend of time using my power for good. I mean … if you had to rescue somebody from a burning building or something like that, you might catch on fire.” (Episode 508: Superpowers)
You know what all that shows us, from my dream of flying to leave school for the day, to the people interviewed above? It shows us that: (1) most of us wish we could do something significant with our lives, and if we could do that, (2) most of us would only do it for our own good.
But that’s not the way of God.
The truth from God’s Word is this: You do have something significant that you can do with your life, and you were meant to do it for the good of others and the glory of God.
You do have something significant that you can do with your life. You have gifts. You have talents. You have abilities. You have all of these things that have been given to you by God, that you have worked to develop and hone and fine-tune, that you very likely are already using in so many different ways.
And all of these things—these talents and skills and abilities—God gave them to you so that you can use them to be a blessing to others.
1 Peter 4:10–11 shows us that every gift given by God to his people is meant to be used for the good of others and the glory of God:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
So the question is not, if you had one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it?
The question is: What skills do you have, and how can you use them for the good of others and the glory of God?
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.