There is a fable about Spanish artist Pablo Picasso that goes along these lines:
Picasso was sitting on a park bench when a young woman came up to him and asked, “Could you draw me a picture, please?” Picasso got out his sketchpad and pencil and quickly sketched a portrait of the young woman. She beamed as he handed her the sketch. “Oh, it’s so lovely!” she exclaimed.
Before the young woman turned to leave, Picasso said, “That will be one million dollars, please.”
“A million dollars!” she said in surprise. “But it only took you two minutes.”
“Actually,” said Picasso, “it took me a lifetime.”
This fable highlights the true value of expertise.
While we often place value on the end product, the true value of expertise is derived from the years spent developing abilities that make it possible to produce the end product.
One of our Threads is “Unwrapping Gifts”. God created us in His image and we all reflect, in different ways, the image and majesty of God in His Kingdom, each made with individuality, uniqueness and complexity. In Romans 12:4-8 we read about these gifts and how we are to use them to build the body of Christ.
We all know that there are some things we are “naturally” good at and certainly some that we enjoy doing far more than others! When we look at ourselves or our children, we see small signs of these gifts and then we begin to develop them.
The Real Value Lies in the Backstory
When Picasso stated that it had taken him a lifetime to produce the drawing, he was crediting his ability to his backstory – a lifetime spent developing his talents. The fact that it only took a few moments to create the beautiful sketch is irrelevant. It could not have been created without Picasso’s backstory of developing his abilities.
Picasso took his God-given talent (whether he recognised it was from God or not) and then spent a lifetime developing and refining it. This is also what we want from our students. We want them to recognise where God has gifted them and then faithfully develop these gifts to use for God’s glory.
Growing Our Gifts
Our part in this is to give students opportunities not only to discover their gifts but to grow them. This is why we have Sport, Science, Music, Art and other learning areas rather than focussing only on Literacy and Numeracy, although these, of course, have their place. This is why there are opportunities for students to join the Choir, to go on mission trips, to be good buddies to younger students, to collaborate and cooperate with others on problem-solving tasks and to take part in the many extra-curricular activities that are available to them.
This is the backstory to the final product of their giftings. A great encourager has had many opportunities to learn about encouragement and has practised being encouraging to others as well as having experienced what encouragement feels like when it is given to them. A generous giver has learnt the value of giving from parents, in their church and from those who have been generous to them. The wonderful pianist has had lessons every week and has practised numerous hours to finally present an outstanding performance at a concert.
Picasso didn’t spend a lifetime painting. He spent a lifetime working out how to become a better painter. In the process, he created many paintings, some of which are worth millions of dollars today because they are the reflection of a lifetime of becoming a better painter.
In the book Transformation by Design we read a quote from educators Gloria Goris Stronks and Doug Blomberg:
“Schools help students to unwrap their God-given gifts not primarily for their personal growth and advantage. Rather, they develop their individuality in order that they may offer their unique gifts to the body of Christ and to society” (1993 p25)
I encourage you to discover your children’s gifts with them as they grow and to pray with them that they find ways to develop them so that they can use them to further the Kingdom of God and for His glory.
Taken from James Anderson (2018)
and Transformation by Design (NICE, 2015)