Andrée Seu Peterson: Living skillfully


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, April 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Commentator Andrée Seu Peterson now on how each of us is gifted by God.

This is from her 2008 book, Normal Kingdom Business.

ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON, COMMENTATOR: When I worked at The Golden Spike one summer in the 70s, one head waitress could breeze through the dining room and spot what every table needed. I could not. It was a short gig.

Everybody in the world is good at something and bad at something. The exception would be Leonardo da Vinci, who was good at everything—painting, inventing, sculpting, astronomy, anatomy, botany, cartography, and ichnology, which most people haven’t even heard of.

Sometimes whole cultures are good at something and bad at other things, but one is not allowed to mention that, under pain of being reviled by people who don’t countenance distinctions or generalizations of any kind. Israel took a desert and made it a garden; Haiti took a garden and made it a desert.

I have always been intrigued that the American Indian never came up with the wheel. Or arch, or cart, or plow, or pottery wheel, or class, or iron, or stringed musical instruments. I feel I could have invented the wheel. I may be wrong about that, since I never figured out how to reset the clock on my Mazda when daylight savings time came back.

When Louis XVI’s France rejected the gospel and drove out up to 900,000 of its Protestants, it shot the economy in the foot because this was the population that understood the silk-making, plate glass, watch-making, and cabinet-making industries. This is similar to the 1492 Alhambra edict that expelled the Jews and caused a brain drain in Spain.

My favorite TV character was Radar O’Reilly on the 70s hit M.A.S.H. Corporal in charge of the Korean M.A.S.H. unit PA system and radio station, he was humble, unassuming, in the background—indispensable. He knew what the colonel needed before the colonel did and would suddenly appear at his elbow to give it to him.

“Do you see a man who is skillful in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

We learn in Scripture that God is the one who dispenses skill, and that skill and wisdom are cousins: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs…to work in every craft’” (Exodus 31:1-5).

There is no reason why we cannot ask for particular skills and receive them as needed. King David said, “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains…my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1). “For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29).

We have nothing we have not received, so boasting is eliminated. I hope da Vinci understood.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.


(Illustration/Krieg Barrie)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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