For my non-Christian friends, don’t let the origin of this story dissuade you from reading on. This lesson has many practical applications for our professional lives, whether you choose to practice faith or not. I encourage you; give this story of maximizing talent a chance before you go.
Use Your Talents Wisely
In Matthew 25:14-29 of the Bible, Jesus tells the parable or story of a wealthy man who gives his three servants three different amounts of money, or talents, to put to good use while he is away. To one servant he gives five talents, to the other two talents and to the last, he gives one talent. The one who received five talents turned that amount into five more talents. The servant who received two talents also doubled his investment by making two more talents. Finally, the last servant buried his one and only talent in the ground, hiding the money.
When the wealthy man returned to settle the accounts with his servants, he was exceptionally pleased with both servants who had invested the money wisely and produced additional talents. He was not at all happy about the servant who hid his talent out of fear and had nothing to show after all that time than what was originally given to him. In the end, he took that one talent away from the lazy and fearful servant and gave it to the one who invested wisely and already had 10 talents to show for it, now 11.
It is clear that Jesus was sharing the importance of being good stewards of money in this story. If you think about resources like I do: time, talent and treasure, most would agree that this is a story about treasure. But, could we look at it in a different light? What if we focus on the word, “talent,” which by today’s common use would literally mean the natural gifts we are given, or as I like to say, how we are hard-wired.
There’s a famous Albert Einstein quote that hangs on our office wall that says: “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I think this quote perfectly summarizes it; we are each given talents, but we have a responsibility to use them correctly. We must actually USE them! If I wake up one day and decide I am no longer going to use my talents as a business leader and instead I want to be a dancer, that doesn’t serve my talent or how I am hard-wired.
We are not all going to have talent on the same level or success on the same level as a result of that talent. Just like the men in the parable, all three were given different amounts of talent. The owner in the parable did not say that they should all have produced the same amount of results at the end, but he did expect each man to maximize the specific talents they were given. Likewise, we all have a responsibility to maximize the talent we have been given or we are “stealing” from our callings and purposes.Likewise, we all have a responsibility to maximize the talent we have been given or we are “stealing” from our callings and purposes. Click To Tweet
Aim For Maximum Impact
Whether you stand on a global stage or serve your local community, it is your job to maximize the talent you have been given and not diminish yourself. Would I love to stand on a global stage like Bill Hybels or Bono? Some days I think I would like that kind of platform to impact the world in thought and leadership, but both of those men started by simply maximizing their individual talent. Bill Hybels started as a youth pastor and after decades of faithful work, he has now built a global leadership following. Bono started out as an unsuccessful Irish musician, then became successful at music and THEN decided to change the world by becoming a voice for those who had none.
We must remember that just because we are in a certain season today that does not mean we have achieved all we can achieve. But, unless we maximize our talents, we don’t stand a chance of knowing where those boundaries are. Jon Acuff says: “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” You simply must be conscious and appreciative of your own talents and do everything you can to maximize them. As long as you focus on being the greatest YOU, you are bringing honor to your Creator and you are setting yourself up for opportunities that simply cannot be foreseen today.
I think if the parable had talked specifically about time or how you are hard-wired to succeed, nobody would have understood; those were not major issues of the day. Just as the parable shares, we all have a responsibility to be good stewards of our treasure; we likewise have a responsibility to be good stewards of our time and God-given talents.
Time, talent and treasure: all of these fall under this umbrella of “human capacity.” In my opinion, one is not greater than the other. What does matter is how you maximize what you have been given.
Question: Have you been maximizing your natural talents?