Developing our Talents

Jesus told a story about a man giving his servants some money. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand and to a third a thousand. The man left on a journey and returned. He was happy to learn that the ones with five and two thousand doubled their money. The one with the thousand played it safe. He didn't risk passing the money into the hands of an investor who might lose the whole thing.

The man giving out the money was upset with the one who played it safe. He favored the riskers.

We can take the lesson that the Lord wants us to develop our talents: playing the piano, singing, speaking, studying, building... All these talents are good to increase. I was thinking of another talent we should make grow- the people with whom we live. Husbands should consider themselves responsible for fostering the grow of their wives in their many talents. Wives should do the same work with their husbands. Parents should do this fostering of grow with their children. And children should work on fostering growth in their parents and brothers and sisters.

What are some of the things we can do to foster this growth in those who are close to us? Listening is vital. Encouraging dreams, praise, giving direction and offering a milieu of freedom.
What a key to a successful marriage and family if each member strove to help develop the talents of others. That's a powerful challenge from the story of Jesus.


Anonymous said...

I resent the idea that I need to develop my talents "for others." When I draw a bizarre, fantastic picture, the last thing I'm thinking of is others. I'm thinking of myself. Which is as it should be. If I didn't enjoy what I was doing, I wouldn't do it at all.

The creative artist is only creative because it brings him/her personal pleasure. Psychologically, if something gives no personal satisfaction at all, nobody bothers with it.

If I want to write a great novel and throw it in a drawer where nobody ever sees it, that should be my business. I feel no obligation at all to share my brilliance with anyone. And I probably never will.

I resent very much being told by the Church that I have to develop my talents for the good of others. I don't write, draw, or invent for the "good of others." I do these things precisely because I don't have to. I do them just for the fun. My own personal enjoyment. If I have to do them just to get into Heaven and avoid Hell, that's an intolerable burden. I'm being FORCED to develop my talents in that case, just to get out of Hell. The Parable of the Talents quoted above seems very final on this point. Develop your talents, or go to Hell.

Quite frankly, I don't respond to scare tactics. Maybe some Catholics who are too "humble" to say anything might, but I don't. I just get annoyed and irritated. I do not respond to a Church that commands me to develop my talents or go to Hell. If that's the case, I'll just ignore my talents completely. Well done.

Is my interpretation of this Parable correct? Or am I missing something? I would very much like to know.

- Regards

Paul Dion, STL said...

Your interpretation of this parable is incorrect. You are missing something. You are missing the part in the story that indicates clearly that the talents were given to the servants by the master who had a clear goal in mind. Make me some money. Bring me some good from what I have invested in you. One servant didn’t respond because of the fear factor, as it is clearly stated in the ending of the parable. So instead of enjoying the result of his actions, he lost.
The lesson is that we are not the master of our destiny. God is. He is the master of one and all and right from the first pages of the Sacred Scripture in which many of us believe, He tells us to manage His creation. This parable reminds us of our obligation to do just that. It is not the Church scaring us into doing something we do not want to do. It is God telling us our responsibility to His creation over which He has given us stewardship. (Genesis 1; 26 - 31)
Christianity is a religion based on a relationship of love between God and His creatures. If the only one whom we love is our own self, then we aren’t truly Christian. If the only ones whom we love are God and our own self, then too, we are not truly Christian. If we report back to God and have not managed His creation well per his direction, by using our talents for the common good of making His creation better, then it will go badly for us as we stand before Him. That’s not a scare tactic. That’s the truth.
In closing, thanks you for not having condemned your comment to the limbo of your desk drawer. Your public communication of your convictions is in the true spirit of Jesus Christ Himself who shared all He had and reminded us of it when He responded to His interrogators, “Ask them. All I had to say, I said in the open...” Jesus didn’t respond to scare tactics either. He didn’t put anything in the drawer. He didn’t hide His lamp under a bushel basket. He didn’t bury His talents. Think about it. All the Catholic Church is doing is repeating the teachings of Her Divine Founder.
Paul Dion, STL
Theology Editor,