The Parable of the Talents and Callings
NCW 21, July 1995
Q. The parable of the talents interests me alot. In it Jesus says that those who don't use their talents have them taken away, and that these are given to others who are more faithful in magnifying their stewardship. But could this parable be approached in a different way? What if, for example, the Lord called me on a mission to Samoa and I refused to go, so someone else was called. Am I, in fact, losing out?
Yes, I believe (in this hypothetical situation) you would be. When God calls us to do a particular task the blessings are always two-fold. Firstly, the one called is being blessed -- a mission to Samoa would, if it had been ordained by God to it, equip you for other tasks in life and enable you to magnify other callings. Secondly -- and this is what we tend to focus on -- others are blessed by your preaching of the Gospel.
But consider also -- your faithfulness in completing your mission to the Samoans will, in blessing you, also bless others later on, because the skills and knowledge you obtain on your mission will help you magnify other gifts, and so on. Every call which the Lord gives you is designed to make you grow and therefore bless others. Your being blessed because of your obedience and faithfulness is therefore to indirectly magnify other stewardships -- other talents -- which as yet may be hidden. And your faithfulness in completing the unhidden stewardship reveals other stewardships in the future.
There are many people in the Church who do not understand the importance of apparently menial tasks which are sometimes given them. Sometimes the attitude of people is that the task is unimportant and can be left to someone else. But this is fundamentally wrong. What may appear to be a "menial" task to you now may well be the key to other greater tasks in the future, without which these greater tasks could not be performed.
Most so-called "menial" tasks actually confer an important self-discipline which is absolutely essential for callings with greater responsibility. For example, the New Testament says a loving and orderly marriage is a requirement of all those who would be deacons, deaconesses or elders because of the spiritual, emotional and physical discipline it imputes to those who would be shepherds over God's people. Self-control and patience is another requirement of this office, things which are usually forcibly learned in youth when the tendency is to impatience and rebelliousness.
So do not spurn menial jobs or refuse to accept calls from the Lord which appear to have no meaning in the present. These calls are the gateway into an abundant spiritual life in the future. Christian discipleship, and the gifts obtained by it, require much sweat and tears, like all worthwhile things. So, yes, by refusing a call could mean that you, as well as others, are seriously losing out.
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Last updated on 2 May 1998
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