Having spent a lot of time working in the church, I’ve become intimately familiar with the story of the hard driving master and the talents he gave to his servants.
The parable of the talents comes from Matthew 25:14-30. The story goes:
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.
15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.
17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.
18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?
27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.
29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I want to take a look at this piece of scripture in a different light. One that leaders can learn how to lead better.
Let’s take a look at the men who were given talents.
The first man is given 5 talents (or bags of gold). The second man was given 2. The last man was given one.
Why? Because the leader of these men knew what kind of men each man was. He knew who could be trusted and who couldn’t.
That’s leadership lesson 1 from the parable of the talents:
Know who to trust.
When the man came back from his journey, he asked each man what they had done with the talents they were given.
The first man worked hard and doubled the leader’s money. The same happened with the second man. And then we come to the last man. The one who was given 1 talent.
He approached his leader and told him that he was fearful, so he hid the money so he didn’t lose it. And the leader loses it.
My question has always been: What was different with the last man? Why did he have a different reaction than the first two?
Then it hit me. The last man was living in fear. He even admits as much in verse 25 when he said that he was afraid.
Because of fear, he did something stupid. He hid the money. It may have been wiser for him to invest or stick it in the bank so it could gain interest but fear paralyzed him.
That’s leadership lesson 2 from the parable of the talents:
Fearful people do stupid things
Throughout these passages of scripture we also see the leader rewarding the men who did well.
To the first man, he gave him 5 more talents. To the second man, he gave 2 more talents.
This hard driving leader knew to reward people when they did good work. He made sure he let those that served him know that he was pleased.
That’s leadership lesson 3 from the parable of the talents:
Reward those who do good work
The more we dig into scripture, the more leadership lessons the Bible reveals. Are you paying attention?