Every single one of us has talent and meaningful contributions to offer. If you feel like you’ve been skipped in the talent distribution line, I’m here to show you otherwise and to encourage you to step out and share your wonderful gifts with a world eager to receive them.
How Much Talent Have We Been Given?
Jesus describes what this distribution looks like in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The master is going away on a journey. He divides and distributes his property up to his three servants to manage. One servant was given five talents, one was given two, and one was given only one talent.
I’ve often heard this parable and have always felt a tinge bad for the last servant until I found out what a talent was! A talent is a measurement of the weight of gold or silver and just one talent weighs in at approximately 75 lbs. 75 pounds of gold or silver. This sum would equal about a million U.S. dollars in today’s world.
So now that we have feeling sorry for the last servant off of the table, the story continues. Both of the first two servants invested and made a 100% return, but the last servant was afraid and hid his talent, not even earning interest, had he invested with bankers.
When Fear Strikes and We Hide Our Talents
“He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’” (Matthew 25:24-25)
You might be tempted to sympathize with the one-talent-servant as I am. In my struggle with fear the past couple of years, I’ve often neglected to serve people and to give in a lot of the areas that I know I’m gifted in. I’ve retreated into isolation, with a million excuses. I’m trying to figure out my life. I can’t find the right place. I’m afraid.
A Reason to Fear Fear and Complacency
But in spite of the servant’s fear and excuses, the master’s response to him was not at all sympathetic! He didn’t tell him to lie down and talk about his childhood and attempt to dissect the root of his fears. The master did and said the scariest words and actions any one of us could fathom ever hearing and experiencing. “But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant!….” (vs. 26) “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 30)
It can be confusing to understand the severity of a response like that. In this parable, Jesus is using a monetary analogy for the talents and gifts we all have been freely given, but He’s also saying that these gifts and talents that we have are not our own. They are actually on loan and what we do with them is not for our own gain but for His.
Lastly, and most importantly, the servant’s lack of action showed that he didn’t love his master nor did he believe he was good.
Fear & Complacency is a Self-Life
Instead of joyfully receiving his talent and risking himself in order to possibly grow his master’s wealth, he operated out of a spirit of self-preservation. I imagine he was overwhelmed with the responsibility and resented it, hiding it and emphatically pushing it back with a “HERE! Take it back, I don’t want it!”
How often are we assaulted with this feeling? We know that God has given us a gift of hospitality, but we care too much what people might think of our home or whatever small things we have to offer to extend an invitation. We know that we have been gifted with a voice to sing, but to step on a stage in front of people is terrifying. We know that we’ve been gifted with sharing or writing or creating, but we don’t put in all of the work necessary to grow it because it’s often uncomfortable, we can’t decide if it’s what we really want to do, and it’s hard.
It’s also important to note that the first word that the master called him was ‘slothful,’ which I feel like is an even worse word for lazy. Some other synonyms being idle, inactive, sluggish, apathetic, lethargic, listless…. this is literally just describing me every morning. This is also largely why we don’t step out and use our gifts. We’re exhausted from over-packed schedules, we’re bored, uninspired, stressed, worried and so absorbed with our own inner turmoil, however valid it may be, we bury our talents.
What Does Stepping Out Look Like?
Our life is not to be lived for our own comfort, our personal growth, or even our own achievements. We are to risk ourselves for Christ with our God-given abilities.
What does this look like?
Jesus said that lived out it looks like servanthood. “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” (Matthew 25:35-36)
And this out of a heart of love. As love drives out fear (1 John 4:18), the knowledge that using our gifts and talents is about serving and loving others and less about how we perform really helps remove a lot of fear. You can also start small! We don’t have to step out and expose ourselves to our greatest fear tomorrow to be faithful to use our gifts.
If you know that you are gifted in preaching, have a friend or two over for bible studies. For hospitality, if you don’t want to have people in your home, plan a picnic in the park. If you know you are gifted in sharing or writing and starting a blog seems too daunting, start an Instagram account and share there. If serving in ministry at church seems too big a step, start serving with a family you personally know.
We have all been given enough talents to step out into what servanthood and love are for us, a million dollars worth! None of us are talent bankrupt. And as a bonus, the more we think of our talents as investments for Jesus and the more we use our talents to grow God’s account, the more He multiplies them. “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.” (vs. 29) So if you feel your talent bucket is running on empty, step out, even with the tiniest of efforts and watch and see how God multiplies your investment.
What We Receive in Return
Jesus says that when we lose our lives for Him, that is when we find them. (Matthew 10:39) This is arguably the most sought-after commodity in the world. People spend and invest their entire lives just to find a minute of real fulfillment in life. When we offer up our skills and talents to others for God, we find life! The life some of us might be desperately searching for right now. It will take pushing through discomfort and resistance, physical and mental. It will take getting off the couch or out of bed when we don’t feel like it. It will take awkward moments. It might take some experimenting and it will definitely include some failing.
But when we truly believe that everything good that we have is a gift from the Creator of the Universe and it’s not at all our own, our lives were purchased at a high price, we should be able to take our eyes off of the fear and insecurities and with a spirit of gratitude, offer up our skills, talents, and gifts to one another. After all, it’s not our talents at stake. It’s not our life. It’s His and we are only doing our best to offer it back to him.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the servant that Jesus welcomes with these comforting words!
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (vs. 21)
- Have you let fear get in the way of stepping out into your God-given talents? If so, in what ways?
- Are you spending too much time escaping? Is your schedule jam-packed with zero room to breathe? Be intentional and plan. Life will get away from you if you allow it to just happen to you.
- Carving out time requires the possibility of cutting away other things. What can you cut away to leave room for growing your gifts?
Comment below, if you have anything to share in relation to this; I’d love to hear your thoughts.