FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
UTILIZING OUR TALENTS
August 27, 2011
Today’s reading: Matthew 25:14-30
In the parable of the talents, “a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.” (Mt 25:14). Jesus is the man-God who has gone on ahead to heaven, but who will be back at the end of time. We are the servants whom Jesus calls. He entrusts his possessions to us, that is, he entrusts us with the gift of salvation, already won on the cross, but which we need to bring to others through the work of evangelization. Further, he entrusts every good thing to us — our lives, our families, our possessions, the environment, his grace and blessings which he imparts to others through us.
Every servant is called and entrusted with a talent — to some five, to another two, still to another one (Mt 25:15a). It is not the number of talents that is important, as we are just called to serve with whatever resources we have. What is required is faithfulness. We are to use whatever talent we have. We are not to just dig a hole in the ground and bury our master’s money (Mt 25:18).
When Jesus comes once again, he will settle accounts with his servants (Mt 25:19), that is, we are held accountable, and it is to Jesus to whom we will account. Those who use their talents will be extolled, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Mt 25:21a,23a). Those who do not make use of their talents will be condemned.
Now the punishment of being thrown into the darkness outside where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth (Mt 25:30) is severe. Why is that? For simply doing nothing? Yes! It is precisely for doing nothing, when we have been entrusted with the greatest gift ever, that of salvation. Jesus has entrusted his possessions to his servants. Jesus has made himself dependent upon his servants to bring the salvation he won on the cross to others. It is all about the eternal well-being of those whom Jesus loves so much that he gave his very own life for them. If souls are lost due to our non-use of what is entrusted to us, then we face a severe condemnation.
The call to servanthood and especially to servant leadership is a very serious call. How should we respond?
First, we make use of our gifts, whatever these may be. Not everyone is gifted in the same way, but everyone can make a contribution through the use of his gift for the work of the Kingdom. Whether you are the preacher at a large assembly, or you are the one who sweeps the floor after the event, your contribution is needed and important.
Second, we need to take seriously the work given us by our Master, who is “a demanding person” (Mt 25:24). We are called to give our all, to give our very lives. We are to expend ourselves for the cause of Christ. We are to follow in his footsteps, which lead all the way to the cross. Jesus calls us to deny our very selves and to take up our crosses. Having given us the privilege to serve him, Jesus demands nothing less than our all, in the very imitation of himself.
Third, we should not allow fear to paralyze us or keep us from using our talents (Mt 25:25). Jesus after all just looks to our faithfulness and not to the results. It is up to God to cause the growth, to bring fruit out of our efforts. In our work, we know we have the fullness of the grace of God, and the strength that comes from Him. We are just instruments. We make ourselves available for His use, and place our trust fully in Him. We need never be afraid.
Finally, we need to realize that it is when we use our gifts that we will grow richer in them and will be blessed more. “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich” (Mt 25:29a). When the Master sees his servant producing fruit and being faithful, then he gives him greater responsibilities (Mt 25:21b,23b). Jesus tests us. If we respond, he blesses us. If we give of ourselves, he gives us even more. The converse is true. If we do not make use of our talent, we would lose even the little that we have, for God does not give talents just to be wasted (Mt 25:28). How tragic that would be, when “from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mt 25:29b).
Let us go about the Master’s business. Let us make use of our talents and expend ourselves for Christ. At the end of time, may we be found faithful and worthy. And may we hear our Master’s sweet words, “Come, share your master’s joy.” (Mt 25:21c,23c).
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