Potential – the range of capabilities that someone or something has; powers or resources not yet developed or made use of (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
“Potential is like a seed. It is buried ability and hidden power that needs to be cultivated.” Myles Munroe, Understanding Your Potential
You may not believe it. You may not want to accept it as truth. Nevertheless I am going to say it – you have enormous potential! How can I say that? Because you are the handiwork of a master creator! We have seen and marvelled over the work of God’s hands, the ingenuity of his mind. As people made in his image, that same capacity for creativity, that same potential for greatness lies within each man, woman and child. However, the onus is upon us to discover, develop and nurture it.
Humour me for a moment and let’s travel back in time to the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam, He gave him a specific task to fulfil (see Genesis 2:19-20). Adam had no one else to consult, no one with whom he could confer and no one to emulate. He simply had to get on with his assignment, drawing from inner resources to fulfil his responsibility. Can you appreciate the creativity and imagination required for Adam to name every beast and every bird? (I sometimes find it hard to come up with a suitable password!)
These two verses paint a scenario of significant achievement. They demonstrate that we as human beings, made in the likeness of our creative Father, share the same incredible potential to find creative solutions in whatever context we may find ourselves. We have the same ability to make valuable contributions to the world in which we live. That is potential with a capital P!
In order to grasp the reality and scope of what lies within each one of us, I want you to consider potential as a seed – the seed of a fruit tree. Now that seed contains the latent ability to develop into a tree and produce fruit and that fruit contains more seeds and therefore the potential for more trees… more fruit… I’m sure you’re getting the picture.
You and I are like that seed. Within each of us lies a fount of untapped ability and resources – the stuff of dreams! Yet, according to scientists, we use as little as 10% of our abilities. A shocking fact, when one realises that within most of us, as much as 90% of our capabilities lie dormant.
Regarding human potential, American philosopher and psychologist, William James, had this to say: “Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses power of various sorts which he habitually fails to use.”
So how do we remedy this habitual failing and unlock our potential? How can we tap into that fount of creativity? Winston Churchill believed that “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”. It sounds simple and accessible doesn’t it? Not superhuman strength, or super-intelligence – just continuous effort. It would be easy to dismiss Churchill’s observation as being too simplistic. I mean if that’s the case, why aren’t people generally more creative? Why don’t we experience an ever-flowing release of our potential?
Well, I believe the key lies in the phrase ‘continuous effort’. Not now-and again effort, once in a blue moon effort, only when I’m in the mood effort – but continuous effort! Does that mean becoming a workaholic, or being so driven your life becomes unbalanced? Absolutely not! It means you and I have to learn to adopt a mind-set that focuses on an end goal. It means arming ourselves with a determined will to find a way through obstacles and go all the way to the finishing line. It means being persistent despite difficulties or discouragement, for they will surely raise their ugly heads during the course of our pursuits. It means not expecting God (or anyone else) to present us with a silver platter of opportunities from which we can select our heart’s desires. It means not resting on our laurels.
In his book An Enemy Called Average, John L. Mason challenges believers to step away from the well-trodden path of mediocrity. He says: “If you choose not to step out and make maximum use of the gifts and talents in your life, you will spend your days on this earth helping someone else reach his goals. Most people let others control their destiny. Don’t allow anyone to take over the driver’s seat in your life. Fulfil your own dreams and determine your own life’s course.”
If the above speaks to you where you are at right now, are you ready to accept Mason’s challenge? Are you prepared to discover and utilise your unique skills and abilities, your God-ordained purpose? Will you commit to developing your potential?