Acton Institute Powerblog

Denzel Washington: Share Your Gifts; Don’t Abuse Them

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In a short video that recently went viral, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington offers some spontaneous career advice to a group of young actors.

Although the setting is informal and his remarks are off-the-cuff and unrefined — sure to beg questions among theological nit-pickers — his general view aligns rather well with a healthy approach to Christian stewardship.

Watch the video here:

In keeping with the theme of “All is Gift” that runs throughout Acton’s new series, For the Life of the World, Washington emphasizes that we are created to be gift-givers, and that our gifts are not to be neglected due to our own idleness and fear, and neither are they to abused for our own personal privilege or gain:

I pray that you all put your shoes way under the bed at night so that you got to get on your knees in the morning when you wake up to find them. While you’re down there, thank God for grace and mercy and understanding. We all fall short of the glory…but if you just start thinking about all the things you got to say “thank you” for, that’s a day. That’s easily a day!

We have a little boy in our show—we’re doing Raisin in the Sun—and we have a circle. We pray every day. And his prayer—this boy is prayed up. He just prays that we go out and touch someone tonight. He says, “God, somebody out there needs us tonight.” And we all have that unique gift to go out and touch people to affect people. Understand that gift, protect that gift, appreciate that gift, utilize that gift. Don’t abuse that gift. Treasure it. You already have it….

You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse…Now, I’ve been blessed to make hundreds of millions of dollars in my life. I can’t take it with me, and neither can you. It’s not how much you have but what you do with what you have. And we all have different gifts: some money, some love, some patience, some the ability to touch people. But we all have it. Use it. Share it. That’s what counts.

Of course, Washington’s words ought to be digested within the context of Christian obedience. For the Christian, our “desires,” “dreams,” and “goals” are not ultimately our own, and ought to be driven by the transformation and power that comes with the Gospel — grounded in the Word, led by the Holy Spirit, and born out within and through the community of God’s People.

But when we discern those goals and callings, and as we move from dream to execution to fruition, from Joseph in the prison to Joseph in Pharaoh’s house, let us each and every day “thank God for grace and mercy and understanding” in all that we put our hands to.

Use it. Share it. All is gift.

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Charisma News, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.

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