Updated: Mar 26, 2019
In the world we live, we are judged by the things we have. Some of us, less privileged financially or that do not have status in the profession they chose, or do not get to be in the spotlight, are considered losers or fail.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus gave three examples and defined what is failure.
Talking about the three men, two of them were seen as successful, and the third was severely reprimanded.
The number one servant received five talents. The parable says that "went and traded with them." If you've already invested money before, you get to imagine what happened. Maybe he bought vegetables and fruit farms near the town, started planting and harvesting, and then went riding a horse on the main road and earned his profit. Or maybe he bought camels, hired helpers from town to town selling various products. What matters is that he struggled, risked and ultimately managed to double his capital.
The man with two talents did the same way. Perhaps he took his two talents, bought canvas, and mounted a hired seamstresses manufacture of tents to sell to the Roman army. And he also had a profit of one hundred percent on top of the money entrusted to him.
The third servant acted quite differently. The parable tells us that he took his talent, he made a hole in the ground, and buried it. He was afraid, Jesus said, afraid that if he invested the money in some business, maybe a recession or economic depression would come and he would lose everything. Or maybe, if he would be traveling from city to city, buying and selling things, he imagined that he would be robbed by thieves, or even feared that someone would cheat him. Maybe he was afraid of making wrong decisions. Then, trapped by his fear, he kept the money to himself, and hid it in a safe place.
The difference between the third and the others was not that he had received only one talent, a value well below what others received. The amount of talent that he had, made no difference to his Master.
The problem of the man with one talent was that he had been too afraid to use what he had in his hands. Rather than risk the possibility of losing what he had and be seen as a failure, he buried his talent.
It is ironic to think that what he did because of his fear of failure was exactly what made him really fail.
The person who fails is not the person who has less talents or skills, but one that does not use what he has.
After all, life takes risks. If you live, and fall, you will get scars, but you can rise and continue walking. If you do not walk, nothing happens, and your legs will atrophy.
Most important to the Lord in my view is not that we must be geniuses, or gifted, but that we are ready to be used by Him, ready to act with what He has given us, whether much or little. Without to be just coveting what our neighbor has or not.
When Jesus chose his disciples, he did not seek highly skilled men, intellectuals or religious leaders. He called ordinary men, simply, that by the pattern of worldly standards that time, probably would be seen as failures or losers. Starting with the way he called them, Jesus showed that he wanted men of action, ready to risk what they had. He wanted people ready to risk their lives for the Gospel.
Jesus did not accept that someone invented excuses to leave and just wanted to follow him later.
What is better and encourage us when we understand this is that the amount of our talents and our abilities do not make us be better or worse before God, but rather our willingness to follow Him, and consecrate our talents for the benefit of His kingdom, our family, our neighbors, and giving our lives in His hands.
“Success is not final and failure is not fatal” - Churchill
This quote was originally spoken by Churchill, but more famously stated in a slight variant of ‘Success is not forever’ by the unforgettable coach of the Miami Dolphins football team, Don Shula.
What Don Shula got to put in practice with his team is a great example of keeping things in perspective and moving on . And that consisted on:
“Don had a twenty-four hour rule. He allowed himself, his coaches, and his players a maximum of twenty-four hours after a football game to celebrate a victory or bemoan a defeat. During that time, they were encouraged to experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat as deeply as possible. Once the twenty-four hour deadline had passed, they put it behind them and focused their energies on preparing for the next opponent.”
(from the book ‘The Heart of a Leader’, of Ken Blanchard).
That is the secret.
Be prepared. Some people get hikes of hyper excitement or deadly depression towards situations in life. And this first step to the decision of burying any of our talents is of short distance. We need to learn to keep things in perspective.
And we come back to our self-esteem.
If we have great self-esteem, then failure may motivate us toward the next attempt. The individual who has self-esteem in order feels like any other when fails, but reacts like the hungry who loses a meal: it gets even more hungry waiting for the next. The failure, though disappointing, does not destroy the positive vision that he has of himself. It is not personalized, but always creates a disappointment - the lack of realization - that the next opportunity will correct.
On the other hand, when individuals lack self-esteem enough to react with determination, if they don’t have positive feelings about themselves, they face the rejection personally. They think the "no" is directed to themselves and this, in their vision, is one more proof that there are not very good and have no value. Therefore, they become very hesitant to seek another situation that can resurrect this ghost, because even with the desire to persuade (the motivation), the potential pain of rejection is too big to risk.
Heavenly Father gives different talents to different people in purpose that we will serve one another, but just some of us, that realize that ONLY those that have faith, and seek Him to help with these talents, will succeed.
In this Easter season, we celebrate Jesus Christ resurrection. The power to have eternal life.
He has paid for ALL our sins. He has given us talents to be happy for ever.
What are we doing to deserve it?
So, be of good cheer and put your talents to work!
This is why He did all of it. For you and I to be happy.