Natural talent is just that: natural. It’s truly amazing to watch someone play for whom the game comes easy. They can just hit, just run, just throw, just play. For some guys, often from an early age, the game seems to be handed to them. Based on sheer talent, they stand head and shoulders above their peers.

In one way, that guy is like the person who is born into a wealthy family, the guy who doesn’t have to work for anything that comes his way. The rich son might expect that dad will simply take care of him, hand off the family business to him, and leave him with a huge inheritance. So, like the guy with major talent, he might take it all for granted, assuming that nothing he does or doesn’t do will change his status and future.

Proverbs 17:2 speaks to the foolishness of this approach to life (and the game, by implication)–“A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, and will share in the inheritance among brothers.”

Think about it. The “son” is the player with all the natural talent. Everything comes easy to him. He doesn’t really have to work at it, so he doesn’t. In fact, he expects that his talent will trump any stupid things he decides to do. He does whatever he wants.

The “servant” is the guy with lesser talent, but he works tirelessly to prove himself and to get better. He might not have all the natural advantages of the son, but the servant catches the eye of the father. Eventually, the son is lazy enough and makes enough stupid decisions that the servant takes his place.

Clearly, there’s no guarantee that a servant will displace a son, just because the servant works hard. But, from what I’ve found, most guys in the game are in the servant class, not in the son class. Additionally, we’ve all seen the presumed star never materialize because he assumed he would continue to be handed his career on a platter. Likewise, we’ve all seen a guy seemingly come out of nowhere to develop into a great player.

If you’re the servant, here’s the lesson: Just keep working. Just keep doing what’s right. Just keep showing up. Just keep honoring the Lord in your life and in your game.

If you’re the son with all the talent, here’s the warning: you’re more at risk of being foolish, simply because you might be able to get away with it for a time. Fight like crazy to prevent that from happening.

Lord Jesus, whether I’m a son or a servant, put my eyes on you. I want to live and play your way, with integrity and wisdom. Amen.