What lies within us: what Jakes and Angelou have taught us about ourselves

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TD Jakes’ chapter “Instinctive Investments” in his book “INSTINCTS” was brimming with wonderful insights for me. He drives home the point that we are all given talents, all given instinct and all given opportunities to “invest” those talents in order to experience increase: promotions, greater responsibility, etc. There is an expectation that we will grow what we’ve been given. But, as Jakes points out, there’s no instruction manual with how to do this (wouldn’t that take all the fun out of it anyway?). God gives us the instinct and the opportunities, and it is up to us to use those two things to determine all the details – when (i.e. timing – when’s the right time to go for it?), where and how to grow His investment in us.

He says “the result of your authentic stewardship is always promotion.” I’m a witness to that and it is indeed the truth all day!! When he said that “Exceeding the requested duties is a sign of instincts well applied,” it completely hit home with me. There have always been areas where I noticed I naturally excel. Where I shine above my peers. Where entire groups recognize that I’m “the best” at something. I’m so glad Jakes pointed out that those things you excel at, those things you naturally go above and beyond for without being asked gives you a clue into what you’re wired for. Reading that was such a revelation for me and confirms what I’ve felt inside for some time as I’m honing in more and more on what I’m made to do. I’m sure it is like that for all of us – once our instincts have been awaken within us, we notice that others notice our natural abilities and talents.

His point about “copying” (attempting to imitate others’ success) is something I think I’ve also seen a good bit of in my life so far. There are many people chasing the “image” of success for their ego’s sake rather than chasing their instincts. I think it’s because of a lack of exposure to their instincts, as Jakes mentions. If you’ve not been exposed to the things that will awaken your instincts inside you, how would you ever know that you could swim, paint, write, speak, ___________, etc? Jakes notes that when your creativity springs from a place of authenticity, your instincts, you never have to worry about duplication. That’s because no one can do what you were uniquely designed to do.

One last point I could connect with because of observances I’ve made myself is that of the “fearful servant.” The servant who buried his talent/ treasure rather than investing it for fear that he would lose it. How many people do you know that choose to sit back in life and blame others in order to mask the real reason behind their lack of success: FEAR. The fear to fly. The fear to branch out and explore their gifts because of the possibility that they might fail. That they might lose “the little bit” they have. The “little bit” they’ve been given. And consequently, they find themselves already at the middle of their life – still trying to understand what they’re supposed to be doing. Again, as Jakes said, there is no manual. No one can tell you how to do it. But you must. And the bigger point he mentioned which I thought was so poignant: the time you lose wasting around and sitting on your talent is completely irreplaceable. Not only that, but your talent degrades over time. As he says, the singer loses her voice, the runners’ legs get stuff and the business environment changes.

At this point in time, since we lost out legend Maya Angelou this week and I’ve been watching all her memoirs and tributes on BET and the OWN network, etc, I can’t help but also think of how Maya used her MANY talents all throughout life. She was so extremely multi-faceted!! Not only a poet and author for which she is most widely known, but also a singer, a dancer, the first black street car conductor in San Diego at age 16, a producer, etc. The list just keeps going!! She addresses this fear and says that her mother, Vivian Baxter, was most instrumental in instilling great courage in her. She says teaching a young person to have courage is one of the greatest things you can do. That you should start with small things to build courage. Courage is not something we’re born with, she said. It’s something we have to develop. She also says that really knowing that God loves you can give you such confidence. “In God I live and move and have my being” is something she often says to center herself in any situation. She aka notes that “I can do ANY good thing because He loves me.” Lastly, one thing both she and her “adopted” daughter Oprah both say for confidence: “I came here as one but I stand as 10,000” – an allusion to the fact that we owe our ancestors for the price they paid for the freedoms we now enjoy. Our crown has already been bought and paid for, we just have to wear it – as Dunbar said. So because of those things – we know we should be fearless. Naturally, we will be afraid stepping into the unknown, but we can redirect that nervous energy to make us sharp, smart about our decisions, careful about the moves we make – the timing, the opportunities we choose – and embolden us to dare to fly and grow as we should. Indeed, as we were meant to do.

When we are given the GIFT of opportunity, it’s our responsibility to rise to the challenge with excitement! Jakes acknowledges that it can be fearful to step out into the jungle as a lion that’s always been in a cage. It can be fearful to be pushed off the ledge of your nest, FORCED to fly as a baby eagle. But it is not until we are faced with this fear of the unknown that we discover what lies within us.

The book is good!! Thoroughly enjoying it. I just had to pause and reflect on those thoughts that this particular chapter provoked.

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