“No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius.” Anna Pavlova 1881 – 1932
I came across this quote for the first time a few days ago and it resonated straightaway. In fact, it did more than that, for as soon as I read it, the word talent jumped off the page! I was convicted of my half- hearted attempts at sharing some thoughts and impressions after reading the Parable of the Talents and John Maxwell, leadership guru and New York Times bestselling Author’s book Intentional Living, Choosing a Life That Matters. I highly recommend reading this book!
The Parable of the Talents is found in Mathew 25:14 – 29 and it one of the parables Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven.
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.The one who had received the five talents immediately went and did business with them and earned five more talents. In the same way the one who had received the two talents earned two more. But he who received the one talent went away and dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.”
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have earned five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master.”
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have earned two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master.’
“Now the one who had received the one talent also came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed.And I was afraid, so I went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you still have what is yours.’
“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You worthless, lazy slave! Did you know that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter seed? Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore: take the talent away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. And throw the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The man called his slaves (his servants in some Bible versions) and entrusted his possessions to them. He gave each of the slaves’ talents; five, two and one, according to their ability.
Have you any talent(s)? The answer is a resounding yes in case you hesitated, before answering. You do because God gave you some – everyone has a talent. Everyone may not have discovered their talent, but we all have talent(s) in varying capacities given to us by God. We all have skills, abilities and talents given to us by God.
A Yoruba Proverb which speaks to that truth, loosely translated, says there isn’t anyone who hasn’t been given something by God; although some may argue that what they have been given is not enough!
A wrong mindset of not being talented or not having enough talent comes about when we play a comparison game of our talents against others.
Called; entrusted his possessions; given talents; the man went on his journey. These phrases signify a degree of responsibility had been placed on the slaves. The man trusted them with what he gave. The size and value of the talents given was entirely decided by the man in his wisdom.
If perhaps you don’t know what your “talent” is, or that special thing about you, as a starting point, ask the Holy Spirit to show you. Speak to people who know you well – of course, choose wisely whom you speak to. Examine those things that you are passionate about. Taking a skills or strength test could also give you clues. The bottom line is you have been given talents and there is an attached responsibility with that talent.
John Maxwell said in Intentional Living “Your talent will become the leverage in your life for creating the significant story you want to live.” “Significance begins in the heart when we desire to make a difference”. And I humbly add, responsibility (taking action as a result of entrustment) begins in the heart as well.
The Bible records of the one who received 5 talents, “immediately went and did business with them, and earned five more talents.” Similarly, the fellow with the 2 talents did the same and gained two more talents. But the fellow who received one, went away and dug a hole and buried his master’s money – the talent – the had been entrusted with.
I felt the Holy Spirit gently chasten me as I read this passage, when you work, expect increase! Not in a self-aggrandising manner, but a comforting expectation that the Lord will bless my/your labour and would therefore bring increase. In the same way that Psalm 23 boldly declares, “the Lord is my Shepherd (my Provider) I shall not want.” He provided the talents; He will provide the increase to bless the responsibility that I display – my response to the ability He has placed within me or on me through these talents.
As a man thinketh, so is he. To think right is one of the hardest things to do. For the way a man thinks, dictates his actions. Joyce Meyer, one of the greatest practical Bible teachers of our times puts Proverbs 23:7 this way “where the mind goes, the man will follow”.
The man given one talent did not think right. In his heart he did not expect increase, in fact as we later read, he begrudged his master the increase that would come from that talent. You could say that he had a fear of success – More on this later. The thoughts of his heart meant he did not live a life of significance – he did not leverage on the talent he had received.
Immediately – the first two slaves went away to increase the value of their talents. There was no faffing about. They understood that although they were given talents, it was not theirs to fritter away. Neither was it theirs to waste with inaction. They understood that it belonged to the master although they were entrusted with it. The talents remained the master’s possessions though they were currently responsible for it. And sooner or later, the day of reckoning comes.
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.”
The day of reckoning doesn’t just mean a day in the future where we will answer on how well we stewarded the talents and gifts God gave us. It could also be the absence of the impact we could have had on lives, businesses, and economies in the process of us increasing the value of the talents given to us.
Oh! what a great loss that would be!
God’s mandate when he created man was for man to be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth. Despite man’s rebellion against God, His intention for man remains unchanged. In Christ, we are invited and empowered to have transformed thinking in order to carry out God’s kingdom agenda with everything He has entrusted us with. The Holy Spirit is ready to empower us to think aright in our hearts and minds so that we can do right.
Two of the servants were commended for their actions and rewarded by the master. Their labour did not go unrecognized or unrewarded. Does this mean that we will always have the rewards or increases to our desired timelines. No, we aren’t given that guarantee. However, He who has called us is faithful – just as the master who called his own servants was faithful to them – He will not forget, nor will He fail to reward.
“No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius.”
So we have established that God has given everyone talents (even if, some are yet to discover what it is) and that we have a responsibility to use and increase the value of the talents we have been given; that this cry for significance starts in the heart and is propelled by thinking right.
Work is what transforms the talents that we have been given into genius, the genius that changes lives for good and increases us and our ability to do more while we are it. What resources are available to you? What tools are at your disposal to transform and increase your talent in a way which brings glory to God and blessings to you and others?
At a basic level, you already have some tools. You may need to take an inventory to identify which tools you possess. The fact that you are reading this, means that the Holy Spirit wants to partner with you in the way that you work. As you read, you are thinking, and as you think, you are able, to do.
Using the right tools will get you the right results. If you don’t have the right tools or resources to propel your gift or talent, seek the learning, put yourself in communities and rooms where you are encouraged to think and grow beyond your present circumstances.
The third fellow used the wrong tool, the wrong resources and therefore got the wrong result. He dug a hole and buried his talent. He should have buried his doubts and fears instead of his gift.
He could have leveraged on the proximity he had to the other slaves. They were all given talents. They were all slaves, yet they went away to do business and increased the value of their talents. Perhaps he could have shared his misgivings and his fears with them. Perhaps he could have been vulnerable with them and learned from the way they went about increasing their talents.
Perhaps, his risk averse nature could have showed up in conversations with them. We hear you. What you think about the master…he really isn’t how you have painted him. They might have helped him remember the good or noble things he had forgotten about his master. Okay, since you don’t wish to stretch yourself, what if you deposit master’s money in the bank, that way it will grow and he would be sure to receive a return…
As a wise friend once said, the knowledge is in the room … he could have received the wisdom and knowledge of the right tools and resources to turn his talent over, no pun intended, instead of burying it under the soil of fear (of the future) which is never good soil. He presumably did not seek and therefore did not get the tools that would have transformed what God had given him, into all that it could become.
A life of true significance; a life of value which glorifies God and blesses people is possible for everyone. We need to discharge or deploy our God given talents, with right hearts and using the correct tools. May the Lord help us all in our endeavours.
Thank you for reading.