reflecting on buried talents

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know that I've been wrestling for a long time with discovering my vocation. I've bounced all over the place, grasping at one idea after another, all of them ultimately dead ends.

I still don't know what my niche in God's Kingdom work is, but for the first time I'm able to admit that I've been looking in the wrong places for the answer. All of the half-cocked shots and aborted missions have been my ideas, rooted in immaturity.

I won't go into autobiographical detail about how I came to be where I am. This process goes back longer than just about anyone who reads this has known me. The takeaway is that God has been at work under and behind and through and above my immaturity. He has used a long season in the wilderness to bring me to an understanding of my own selfishness, my own laziness and fear. He has faithully lead me closer to Himself by allowing me to fail, by blocking the way forward I've chosen for myself.

The conviction has been growing in me that it is time for me to engage my talents in greater measure with the work of the Kingdom. Last night at Mosaic, Schatzman was teaching from Matthew 13. While Mark was talking about the parable of the pearl, God was hammering home to me His point from the parable of the talents (Matthew 25.14-30, below; see also, Luke 19.12-27).

Parable of the Talents

14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.

15 “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

16 “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.

17 “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.

18 “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

20 “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’

21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’

23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.

25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.

27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.

28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.

30 “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It's really hard to read this and see myself in it. In my brokenness and immaturity, I've chosen not to use the best part of the gifts He gave me. I can't say that it was because I knew Him "to be a hard man"…but I can't say it wasn't, either.

And right now, it doesn't matter why I buried the talents He gave me to invest (or as in the parallel passage in Luke, covered them with a handkerchief). What matters is what I do next.

2 responses
Hey Jeff. There is an excellent book entitled The Call by Os Guinness. It is a wonderful book that helps make sense of vocation and calling. Also Dick Keyes of L'Abri in Massachusetts has several wonderful talks on calling and vocation. If you can't find the talk on the website they have a podcast on itunes under L'Abri.

On Matthew 25. I'm not sure that Jesus is really addressing irresponsibility to our gifts in general. This parable is wedged in there in between the fortelling of the future destruction of Jerusalem, the coming of the bridegroom (namely himself) and the error of those, who might come to the wedding banquet, to recognize who he is. It is then followed up by the beginnig of the crucifixion narrative; the would be final separation between those who trusted in Him and those who reject Him. It is probably true that we are all irresponsible with our talents and gifts, even those who seem to demonstrate publicly the opposite. And for this we ought to repent. But concerning this passage it seems that Jesus is warning of something much worse than failing vocationally. The last verse seems to carry with it the same ideas as expulsion from the Kingdom of God. This wicked servant was afraid of his master because he didn't know him. He misunderstod who he was and therefore dishonored him by exploiting his talents in an attempt to save his own skin. There will be many on that day (Matthew 7) who believe themselves to have a relationship with God. But they did not know him since they were most concerned with self-preservation and self-promotion. They, like the servant in Matthew 25, were not concerned with who Christ was. They were only concerned with their own lives. The believer might be afraid but to live in fear of God, like the wicked servant, demonstrates a lack of knowledge of who the Son is. Knowing the Son, is knowing God. Jesus says to take his yoke because he brings rest, not anxiety or stress and certainly not fear the way the servant in ch. 25 showed. Just to encourage you, if you konw Christ you are not the wicked servant who is expelled from the Kingdom. You might be guilty of laziness or squandering your talents, but join the club. There is forgivenss for this as we reflect on the One who didn't squander any of His talents or gifts. Christ did what we could not so that you are free to do what you are able. Blessings to you this Lord's day.


Thanks, Scott. A quick note on how I use the word "vocation". Its colloquial meaning, "job" isn't what I have in mind. Catholics often refer to vocation as our full engagement with what God made us to be, or, in the context of this post, the full use of what God gave us.

With that in mind, I think the parable of the talents fits very well with the season of discernment I'm in. I certainly am resting in His forgiveness, and haven't the slightest concern for my eternal standing as His child. But identifying our shortcomings is a key step in our sanctification. That, as much as anything, is what I was working out in the post.

I think the hardest part for me is admitting I don't have it all together. A large part of the Jeff I present to the world is made of "got my stuff together, y'all". We all hit these seasons, I hope, where we realize how immature yet we are. That's where I am right now.

Thanks again for checking in, bro.