The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Don't bury your talents

My Bible study group was discussing the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Our study leaders asked with whom we identified in the story: the servant with 10 talents, the one with five talents or the last with one talent.

I have to say, for me it was the last servant to whom the master said, "You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter?" (Matthew 25:26).

After 50 some years, I have yet to find that talent. There are several things I can do, some I may be good at doing, others are haphazard attempts. Yes, the Lord has blessed me with many gifts: health, my grandfather's homestead, wife, children and grandchildren. Unlike some, I have a roof over my head I can call my own, I have enough food to sustain me, and I have friends and family. Yet a true calling or direction seems to be missing. I am like a "lukewarm" Christian just floating through life.

Why would someone not use his or her talent? The biggest obstacle is fear. Fear of success, reproach, failure and/or loss. The Lord "will not fail or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed" (Deuteronomy 31:8). Oh, but we can't offend or go against the people we love and respect. If we used our talent, we may have to change, become committed to something, we may have to give it 110 percent. "The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid" (Psalm 27:1)?

Then there are the excuses: I don't have time, money or knowledge for such an undertaking. For my good friend, "Ben Putten Itoff", it's procrastination. We really don't want to take a risk or make a choice. We don't want to get out of our comfort zone. We don't want to be vulnerable, open ourselves up for comments, inspection or criticism. Even praise and/or acceptance sometimes makes people shy away or feel out of place.

So why not bury that talent, muddle through life, go with the flow and just get along? Life could get dull and boring. What would happen to entertainment, adventure? What would happen to helping others or filling a need? What about creativity?

God has given us many gifts and abilities, so as not to be just followers or become part of the status quo. There are many gifts of the Spirit, all working together to the glory of God. And not for a mediocre life but for an abundant one. Just take that step of faith and who knows where it may lead. I just wish I could take my own advice. It is easy to say, hard to follow or practice.




Posted at 12:57 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/16/2010

I too was that last servant.  So much so that I went to my Pastor's office and cried to him and his wife about how I wanted to change but I didn't understand what the talent was that I was burying.  Since that day I can't say I have discovered what my talent is, I would like to say it is writing but I havent' done it in so long, I think the ability has been lost to me.  I do however keep trying and one day if it be God's will, I will be published.  I no longer want to be that 3rd servant, I want to be the first...

Kay Meyer

Kay Meyer

Posted at 2:16 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/16/2010

This is a time of transition for all of us.  Whether we are in the midst of school, childrearing, or dealing with  unemployment or early reatirent planning, we are abile to use the gifts of our community to help us discern our individual talents.  Four of us at Holy Cross Lutheran  Church in Libertyville, IL took our own experiences to the council and created the Career Transition Ministry.  We meet twice monthly for topical discussions led by volunteers and focused sharing.  We network with other area churches to be sure our separate  workshops and meeting times are held on different nights so that there should be a place fore everyone to explore their "talent search."  

I encourage fellow searchers to seek out one of the many Career Transtion Resource Groups meeting  in churches in your area. 


Sandra Sanders

Sandra Sanders

Posted at 2:36 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/16/2010

I have probably been the servant in the middle for most of my 50 years. Recently, though, I have been exploring where God wants me in his world. I have found servant experiences to be the most meaningful and this year adopted the following quote by Frederick Buechner as my beacon:  "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."  When we examine our experiences and really look at the times when we feel most alive, most filled with energy and passion, there we receive valuable clues as to what God may have in mind for us and our talent. Changing perspective is often as simple as saying "yes" to an opportunity for a service project, ongoing volunteer work, or a Bible study with a few friends. Step out and see what happens, one baby step at a time! I am now joyfully moving forward and striving to be that first servant in the parable.

Ann Thomas

Ann Thomas

Posted at 11:05 am (U.S. Eastern) 3/17/2010

We are made in the image of God the creator.  So we are made to be creative.  Our talents are not out of the ordinary, extra fantastic enlightened talents.  Your talent comes from the ordinary, who you are in everyday life.  The talent may be the ability to work with children,  the father who works at being a role-model to his children, the mother who can cooks or sew's.  The person who can teach Sunday School class, handle finaces well, chair a committee, contribute wisely as a memeber of a committee.  The person who helps co-workers, is a good listener, offers advice that is helpful to others.  It is the person who was given a voice to sing of be able to play an instrument, or play a great game of checkers with the grandchildren.  It is the person who takes time entertain others, or willing to take someone to Doctors appointments.  If you are having trouble identifying your talent ask you family and friends what they think you do best.

Jan Johnson

Jan Johnson

Posted at 12:25 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/17/2010

God calls us to use all our gifts that He has so generously given us.  It is all well and good to think of the talent as a skill or ability, but the reality is that Jesus is talking about money.   

Consider that talents were used as a unit of currency. It is impossible to be exact about their value, and different kinds of talent were in use. However, even the lowest value for a talent puts it as worth several thousand denarii, and a denarius was the usual payment for a day's labor. So a talent was the value of many years of work by an ordinary person. (from wikipedia.org)

The "master" entrusted the workers with large sums of money.  He came back expecting to more.   God entrusts us with money too.  He expects us to invest it in the mission & ministry of our home congregations, in our neighborhoods, and in the world.

This parable is another example of Jesus talking about money and our relationship to it. 




Posted at 5:15 pm (U.S. Eastern) 3/22/2010

My daughter was just in our school's production of Pippin. For those of you unfamiliar with the play, it's about Pippin's quest to find his "corner of the sky" by finding something extraordinary to do, since he's such an extraordinary person. However, nothing he tries seems to satisfy him...until he meets a widow with a child and becomes involved in the ordinary day-to-day life of maintaining a farm and family.

Maybe our talent isn't something extraordinary, but rather, how we face the ordinary. Perhaps in trying to figure out what our talent is, we spend to much time looking for our "corner of the sky" and figuring that it must be something extraordinary, that we totally overlook the everyday things that our talents are put to use for.

I once wanted to use my talents to become a well-known singer/songwriter. Instead, I'm an ordinary computer teacher who plays piano for fun every now and then. But I think my "ordinary" life is a pretty good use of my talents.

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