For of those to whom much is given, much is required. – John F Kennedy.
Kennedy, then a couple of weeks away from being inaugurated president of the United States, said these words as part of a longer passage in a speech before the Massachusetts legislature. It has its roots in the Book of Luke.
Like Kennedy tended to do from time to time, he made a good point. He was speaking to elected leaders about the responsibilities of elected leaders. Our leaders are given much and from them we expect much. Whether or not we are getting much from our elected leaders is a discussion for another time and, ultimately, is in our hands besides.
Kennedy could also have been speaking about each one of us. All of us have been given much in terms of the talents and ambitions we were born with. Much is required out of us because each of us has an obligation to get the most of those talents.
Whether you think those talents were issued by nature, fate or providence, every single one of us has something we can do well and I’ve always felt the key to a well-lived life is utilizing the talents we were born with. There is no point for a carpenter trying to build a career as a stock broker. The writer who is unwilling to write is not doing anybody any good. We all have our talents and society runs better when everyone is utilizing theirs.
For of those to whom much is given, much is required…
We must put the 24 hours that are in every day to good use. It is the only commodity every human being is issued in equal measure and the life we have is largely dependent on how we spend those 24 hours.
Since you and I have been given much, much is required of us: we must make our time on this planet serve us and not spend it merely marking time. Not everyone is born to privilege and will live down the ages like President Kennedy, but all of us can fully develop the talents and skills we were given. Only in this way will be useful to ourselves and others.