Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:12–27 (read online ⧉)
If you’re like most people in the US, you have a retirement account. If you’ve retired, the stock market swings may not affect you very much, except for secondary investments. If you are not retired or have other significant investments in the stock market, your stock funds—your financial future and security—might seem pretty shaky.
If you’ve been taught to treat the stock market with a “long game”, then the current volatility isn’t too concerning. If you haven’t been taught that, you’re watching the stock market with acid indigestion when it falls and elation when it rises.
We really do understand the concept of investing when it comes to money. We don’t do so well investing in people.
Over the last few decades, as the focus on schooling increases (along with its costs), mentoring is talked about a lot, and done very little. There seems to be an expectation that people will now self-educate. There is good in that, as true education (versus regurgitation) requires self-direction. The problem that then arises is a lack of community and loyalty.
In Luke’s version of the minas (i.e., talents), the nobleman who left his servants behind expected self-direction. In this version of this tale, 10 servants are each given a mina (for a total of 10 minas). We only hear about the super-successful servant, the quite-successful servant, and the vocally ungrateful one. The prologue to the tale indicates that the vocal servant probably voiced the feelings of them all. He was just the only one who said anything.
What about the other 7 servants? Did any fail and declare bankruptcy? Did some only earn 1 or 2 minas? Did some at least put it in the bank and gain interest?
The joy and difficulties of parables and illustrative stories such as these are that we can miss differences. Most of us read into this Lukan version what we read in Matthew. We see the 3 and miss the 10. The differences in these 2 versions mirror similar tales in our days. Magazines, blogs, TV shows will focus on the super- and quite-successful entrepreneurs and leaders. They rarely pay attention to the burying type but are vicious wolves when they do.
Except for election season, the remaining 7 are ignored. Leaders will all too often focus on the 3, and not the 7. They will pour 80% of their effort (even its nothing more than taking credit) into the 2, get 800% back, evaluate themselves as successful, and cast-off the 1. The 7? Only God knows. Their potential has been completely squandered.
This is not to say that everyone is capable of pouring into 10 people and making them all successful. However, the reality is that while the nobleman got something from 2, what does this tell us about his leadership for the other 8?
All-Seeing God, help us to see those you have put before us to lead and mentor. Help us be humble to ask for the guidance and wisdom of others. Amen.
1) Which of the 10 servants (in Luke’s story) are you?
2) Who are you pouring into, leading, and mentoring?
3) Is mentoring and leading a role, or is it a relationship? Why would the difference matter?