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.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. - Matthew 25:24-28
Relax, I'm not going to write about making sure you're giving your 10% to the Church (EVEN THO YOU SHOULD!!!)
Often, especially as protestants, we hear often from the pulpit on making sure we're giving our tithe to the Church as an act of obedience and good stewardship and this is absolutely true. We are told this by the Catholic church as well but I want to take this a bit further.
You see we're not only called to be good Stewards of the money that God has given us (and that includes giving 10% back to the Church) but to also be good Stewards of the resources and abilities we've been given and to use them in a bold manner, for the glory of God's kingdom.
The above parable has nothing to do with giving the tithe, it has everything to-do with misunderstanding the nature of God, being afraid to take risks, and not trusting God to provide for us.
As a small business owner, this parable hits me especially hard. There are times, especially recently, when my business is really beginning to experience growth. However, that growth, to this point, hasn't been due to any sort of gigantic mega-deals that allow you hire lots of staff and delegate most responsibilities while providing financial wind-fall that allows you to plan and scale for the future.
No, the growth has been the growth of the grind. It's been incremental and as such it carries with it the temptation to not trust God with the future. It carries with it the desire that I should just load more work onto my current employees or just do more work myself, even if it means working the entire staff, including me, to exhaustion.
Why? Because often time this growth has no guarantee of future fruits beyond a certain short term date or time-frame and thus, it carries with it risk.
What risk? The risk that I'll have to lay people off. I think this is true of most business owners but I can only speak for myself here, but my number one priority is making sure that my employees have a future, a bright one. My wife and I pray everyday that our businesses are not only profitable but provide for us to be more generous in charity and allow us to provide good lives and meaningful, fulfilling work for our employees. We also pray that our business is a light and beacon for his Justice, Mercy & Humility. Micah 6:8 are words we strive to live by.
So, with the slow growth, comes the natural temptation to not trust God beyond it.
Why? Because we've been through the wilderness before. Anytime God takes you through a season of no provision, it is to cure you of something. However, from that moment forward, you'll always face the temptation of doubting the goodness and faithfulness of God.
This is the sin of fear and being untrusting of God. The servant in the passage above believed the Lord to be unjust in his dealing (perhaps because of the perceived inequality of earthly reward?) and thus he did not trust God to bless and guide his efforts to invest and grow the talent he had given him.
What's interesting is that the master was REALLY upset. He even called the servant "wicked" and "slothful". It's interesting because the servant didn't lose his master's money. I suspect that if the servant had invested the master's money and lost it, the master would have been less upset than he was because the servant hid it away. Why? Because it could have been used as a chastening experience.
In this parable, "talent" is a denomination of money, but it really could be anything: money, time, ability.
God intended us to invest all of our resources and "talents" wisely.
God did not intend for us to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. He intended us to have a day of rest each week and a period of rest each day.
My fellow entrepreneurs if you are overworking yourself or have overworked yourself and have refused to hire and delegate and invest the resources into other people, perhaps it's time to re-examine why you're doing it. Are you afraid to trust God? Do you doubt his goodness and faithfulness to provide for those he loves? See Matthew 6:26-34 below.
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
For those of you who aren't entrepreneurs but work indirectly for one, do you feel like you have to answer email and do work on Saturday and Sunday? Do you feel like you have to always be "on", even at dinner time or while you're putting the kids to bed?
Can you not also trust God enough that either there will be enough time to get your work done without neglecting the righteous vocation to which you've been called: being a good spouse and a parent to your children?
I, personally, never want my employees to feel like they're obligated to be well-paid slaves. Just as I believe that God will provide for me and I can trust him to provide for me and my family and I want my employees to do the same.
We should all always trust his goodness and his faithfulness and we should always be willing to invest our "talents" eagerly and in pursuit of righteous endeavors and pray and trust that God will bless those investments. If you are truly pursuing the righteousness of God, you can trust that God will make those efforts fruitful. It may not be in the way you imagined, but he will bless your efforts.
Peace Be With You!