by Kimberly Grams
“Talent on loan from God.” Remember that quote? It’s from conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh. With “America’s Got Talent” (henceforth, AGT) wrapping up another big season there’s been a lot of talk about talent lately.
AGT is not one of my primary shows. I watched the first season, but I don’t sit through the weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks and weeks – get the picture?) of preliminary rounds. There’s too much bad and too much weird. I like REAL talent, and the stories behind the people – where they are from and where they are going.
I waited until the end when the voting started, when it’s been weeded down to the better acts. Judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and David Hasselhoff often debate what real talent is. The first question is does the act have talent? What does that mean? The judges are looking for someone deserving of a million dollars who can sustain a 1½ hour show in Vegas. For me, they have to have some basic ability, and be entertaining.
For example, I really loved the Tapping Dads who didn’t make the top 10. Are they the best tappers I’ve seen? Hardly. But they are decent and have other important qualities: charm, enthusiasm, and heart. All in all, they’re a class act. These dad’s work long hours at their jobs and started tapping as a way to spend time with their daughters. And they developed such a passion for it, that they’ve turned it into a professional act. Piers Morgan said their tapping would cause Fred Astaire to roll over in his grave. I’m a HUGE Fred Astaire fan. One of my favorite quotes of all time is about Fred Astaire. Some talent scout or network executive once said after seeing Fred, “Can’t sing, can’t act, can dance a little.” Fred Astaire understood that not everyone sees and appreciates talent. I think Fred Astaire would punch Piers Morgan in the face (like in the old black and white films when you thought some fella was stealing your gal).
Some of you may be familiar with Kaitlyn Mayer because she’s making national headlines as AGT’s four-year-old cutie. And she IS. I mean, she is one of the cutest things you’ve EVER seen, and she can carry a tune. I don’t think she should win. If you’ve ever seen a Broadway caliber show, you’ve seen kids, even four year olds, who can sing a lot better than Kaitlyn. And it would be difficult for her to sustain a lengthy Vegas show. They’d really have to create a story and give her some serious back up. But, she is so sweet and polite and adorable – you simply cannot watch her and NOT grin like crazy. And isn’t that an important talent too? The ability to make millions of people smile and feel happy for even just a moment may just be the best talent there is.
I’m a little disappointed with the Top 10 line up. With one exception they are ALL singers, which is going to make the show a bit boring. Half the fun of AGT is the differences in all the acts. Unfortunately, all the dance acts are gone, the most amazing fire baton twirling guy (3 at a time, while he does a flip, and he NEVER dropped one) is out. You can have the best voice in the world, but if you’re competing against other amazing singers, it’s hard to stand out. The top contenders will be opera-bound Neal E. Boyd, born-to-be-an-R&B-star Queen Emily, and the soulful Eli Mattson. My vote would go to Neal … except I finally caught the one non-singing act. They are “Nuttin’ But Stringz” a duo best described as hip-hop violinists. They’ve taken classical and meshed it with hip-hop flavor. Their level of talent on their instruments and raw energy onstage is untouchable. And in a field of 10 very talented people, I’ll go with unique every time.
AGT focuses on certain kinds of talent – the kind that entertains people. Not everyone has those talents. If you have two left feet or can’t carry a tune in a bucket – guess what? You’re not ever going to be that kind of entertainer. But, America HAS got talent. Every single person out there has got a talent, and that talent is a gift from God.
God has given YOU talents. Do you know what your talents are? Do you recognize them as gifts from God? I once directed a Christian camp for the mentally handicapped. On the application their caregivers were asked what they could contribute to the group. About a third to half of the people left it blank or wrote “nothing”. That made me MAD. How dare they say nothing! Why don’t you just go slap God in the face? Could they help clear the table after meals? That’s a talent. Are they always smiling? That’s a talent. There was one guy who told LITERALLY everyone that he came across that “Jesus loves me”. That’s a talent.
Talents are gifts from God. Whether you accept or reject them, use them in a God-pleasing manner or not – it’s still a gift. You didn’t earn it. It’s just there. Sometimes old talents give way to new ones. I heard a story about an elderly lady who’d been very active in her church, and was now in a nursing home. But she got a little calendar and a pen and when she heard of anyone having a tough time, or a joy, or a concern, she wrote it down. And then she prayed, everyday, for all of them. She needed full time care, but she still found a talent. No matter how bad things are, if you’re still here, God uses you for His good work.
Faith is a gift too. God gives it. Jesus paid for it. He gives it and then we respond. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Are you using your “talent on loan from God”? Our Lord gives talents, and now you receive those gifts from Him, and share them! Yes. Thank the Lord, America’s got talent all right.
Kimberly Grams is a writer and pastor’s wife who lives in Scottsbluff, NE. A dancer and an avid reality TV viewer, she has also written over a dozen articles featured in the Pop. Culture & the Arts section of HigherThings.org.