One of the many parables said by Jesus of Nazareth is the parable of the talents. This parable though simple, but it’s loaded with critical life lessons. According to the book of Matthew 25:14-30 of the English standard version (ESV) of the bible, the story goes does.
For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug the one talent in the ground and his master’s money.
Now after a long time, the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying master, ‘master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more. His master said to him, ‘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.’
And he who had two talents came forward, saying master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more. His master said to him ‘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.
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 hide 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 where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, at my coming, I would have received what is mine 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, what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I interpret the master in this passage as the universe, God, nature, or life. The servants constitute everyone in the world, while the talents are the things life offer individuals, both positive and negative. How each servant handles his talents is interpreted as how we respond to what life offer us. The following life lessons can be derived from this parable.
1. We are equally born but not equally endowed: It is a fact that we are all born into this world, but not every one of us is equally endowed. Some are born with a silver spoon while some are born into abject poverty, some are born genius while some are born mentally retarded, and some are highly talented while some are not. Having known this, it is our responsibility to accept the things life has endowed us with and create the kind of life we desire from it.
2. Do not compare yourself with others: The master in the parable of the talents gave each servant talents according to their abilities. The one with five talents traded and gain more five, making his total to be ten, while the one given two talents traded with his own talents and gain another two making his own total to be four. One big mistake we often make as individuals is the habit of comparing ourselves with others. We always seek to be at the same level with those we think are better than us in some ways and if possible to even out-shine them. When we don’t meet up with this expectation then we begin to see ourselves as failure, when in reality we are not, provided we are doing our best, and I mean the best. The servant that was given two talents gained more two, but his total was four, while the servant that was given five talents had ten as his total. By comparison the man with four will be perceived as a failure, when his total talents is compared to the servants with 10, in ratio 4:10, which is the world’s standard of measuring success, but judging based on where they both started from, they are both equal in their achievement. That your current level of achievement is far below that of your mates doesn’t mean you are lazy, most often it is because of the resources that was available to you when you started. Sometimes what makes the difference might be one’s family background, education, right information at the right time, being at the right place and doing the right thing, level of motivation, the intensity desire and so on. We are not equally endowed with these things. However, no matter how small you are today in certain area of your life, if you keep working on improving it, you will definitely grow bigger in the fullness of time.
3. You must start where you are with what you have: The men with five and two talent respectively didn’t consider the value of what they had to be too small to begin a particular kind of trading. They both look for businesses they could do with the money as soon as possible and began trading with their talents. As at the time of the return of their master, they have multiplied their talents. The man with one talent probably concluded in his mind that such amount was too small for any form of business, and was afraid of losing it, so he decided to bury it, knowing that whether he likes it or not, he must give account to his master when he returns. It is so unfortunate that his decision was a foolish one. We must know that there is no perfect time for anything, and no amount of money is too small to begin the journey to financial freedom. With wisdom, hard work and some level of luck, nothing shall be impossible. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY MAN TO BEGIN WHERE HE IS AND WITH WHAT HE HAS.
4. If you don’t use what you have you will lose it and vice-versa: It is no news that what is not used will be lost. The man with one talent refuses to appreciate what he was given, instead of trading with it, he buried it. At the end, his one talent was given to the servant with ten, what a loss. IN LIFE THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OVERNIGHT SUCCESS. Most of the people who are highly successful today started small, gain experience, learn and grow to what they are today. THE LADDER OF SUCCESS CAN ONLY BE CLIMBED ONE RUNG AT A TIME. The initial rung gives room to the next. The small engagements and opportunities of today are the doors to the big opportunities we desire to experience. The master in the parable promised to put the servants with two and five talents respectively in charge of greater things for being faithful in small things. This is exactly how it works in real life. Do not despise the days of little beginning.
James Allen in his book from poverty to power validated this simple truth by saying ‘’ be sure by first of all that you are the best of what you have. Do not delude yourself into supposing that you can step into greater advantages while overlooking small ones, for if you could, it would be impermanent and you would quickly fall back again in order to learn the lesson you have neglected……………before you can have greater good which you so desire, must you faithfully employ that which you already posses.’’
5. You must reap what you sow: One of the most powerful laws that govern life is the law of sowing and reaping. Some experts refer to it as the law of cause and effect. This law is the iron law of destiny. This is the one law given to man via which he can create his own destiny. I have seen so many persons who engage in all sort of evil acts, and sometimes things that are detrimental to their future in the name of being smart. If you are such a person, sorry, you are not smart, you are actually foolish and the fruit of your actions of today will prove it to you when they become fully ripe. The three servants were given talents freely but the master didn’t tell them what to do with it, but it was certain they will all give account when he returns.
One thing that is constant in life is outcome. In other words, for every action there will be an outcome. Knowing that outcomes are constant, it is in your hands to determine the kind of outcome you want, because if you fail to determine outcome, outcome has a way of determining itself. Each of the servants in the parable of the talents determined their outcome by what they choose to do with the talent their master gave to them. What has life given you? Life, good health, intelligence, suffering, wisdom, talents, money, power, and fame you may include yours in the list. Always have it in mind that what you do with these things has a way of determining your future. You create your destiny every second by the thoughts you choose to entertain and the action you take. You may not see the result of your actions yet, that does not mean you are smart. The day of reckoning is inevitable.