But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
My focus in this story which we started last week is the character that is generally referred to as the unprofitable steward. Our life is given to us as a task, a test and a trust from our Maker. Whether we recognize it or not, we are stewards over every gift, endowment or resource that God has given to us. Inside every man’s genetic coding is an assignment that codifies every detail of our essence. The Japanese call it “ikigai”. In our assignment is the seed for our fruitfulness or what we generally term as success or fulfilment. In reality, we own nothing; the reason why every person dies empty-handed, stripped of any capacity to take anything to the grave beyond what the living oblige him! The results that we get from the endowments entrusted to us while on this side of eternity are nothing but a test of our contentment and faithfulness with what we received. Looking over your shoulder to see how many people are more endowed than you is only guaranteed to blind you to the potentials of what you already have. The grass is only greener on the other side of the fence because the yard owner waters it.
The results emanating from the three servants simply justified and affirmed the Master’s estimation of their capacity. The first two servants went and traded with what they got from the master and doubled it. Each brought to the master twice as much as he gave them. He gave each of them the same commendation. He did not rebuke the one with two talents for not producing five talents to square up with the one who got five! He was definitely not expecting results beyond already known capacity!
What is your best excuse for failure? It becomes the limit of your competence and achievement. Nobody performs beyond his best excuse! Whatever you can excuse, you cannot conquer. Unfortunately, many of the excuses that we bandy around and which make us feel good in a self-congratulatory delusion that only betrays our personal incompetence and the failure mindset that lies within are ceilings that we unwittingly set over our lives and potential for success! What are your favourite excuses? The depressed economy? Corona virus? Lack of money? Lack of connections? Poor parentage? Little or no education? A broken heart? The list goes on! You know what your own sabotaging story is. The day you stop telling it marks the beginning of your journey towards lifting whatever ceiling it has placed over your life!
When the master requested accountability, what was the response of the unprofitable servant? He had what would appear to the ordinary mind, a plausible narrative for his non-performance. He told his master, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground.
This guy had an attitude issue! Let me break this down. “I knew you…”. This simply translates to familiarity which only breeds presumption and contempt. It is obvious that this guy had no honour or regard for his master. When you have no regard for the source of your empowerment, you can never have appreciation for the resources that he gives you as well! Imagine a relation who always thought you were stingy coming to visit you for money to solve a personal problem. He is a young graduate who has never generated a dime by himself. You hand him fifty thousand Naira. He collects the money, pockets it and turns round to tell you, “Uncle, so this is all you can give me despite all your wealth? I always knew you were tightfisted. I just thought you had changed. What do you expect me to do with this?”. I have heard of wives who, after collecting what the man could afford, still go ahead to abuse him for not living up to the standard of some other men.
“You are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown…” Seriously? What of the money the master gave him? Was it not a seed to be translated for profit? Perhaps this narrative would have been true if the master had only told them to go and trade without any seed money! Prejudice blinds you to privilege. His prejudice against his master did not even allow him to recognize the potential inherent in what was given to him. With this mindset, gratitude is impossible. When you see a man who constantly complains about what he lacks, he and gratitude will be strange bedfellows. Until a man embraces the attitude of gratitude, he remains in servitude to his ineptitude. The one who is not grateful is indeed a great fool!
“I was afraid…” This was his real problem. He was merely projecting his own inadequacy on someone else in order to deflect attention from his inherent dysfunction. At the start of every major assignment or phase in life, we will all have cause to be afraid. However, the fear is never the problem, it is how we confront it. Those who constantly submit to their fears will never take risks. Yet, life is a risk. Every story of success is nothing but a trophy of risks taken. Courage is nothing but fear that has said its prayers. Nobody asks for the strategy for crossing a river from the man who is found trembling by its bank!
Fear diminishes value, both of yourself and your resources. Fear cripples initiative. It will make you bury the best of possibilities. As a result of his fear, he did not even think of the option that his master later suggested in terms of the money’s (small as it was) inherent potential to earn interest; even if all that the servant had done was to keep it in a savings account! Hope is the eye of the achiever into possibilities inherent in uncharted waters. Unfortunately, the first casualty of fear is hope.
“See, here is what belongs to you.” Whatever you despise can never confer any benefits on you. Feeling justified in his unproductivity, he promptly returned his master’s capital as if to say, “You need to give me some credit. Afterall, I did not lose the money.”
What you don’t use, you lose. The master wasted no time in retrieving the capital and handing it over to the person who had been able to double five talents in the amount of time it had taken his unprofitable counterpart to mismanage one!
The reward of work is more work! So, in addition to what he already had to work with, the servant who had profitably traded with all five talents ended up being given the only one the sultry, unproductive servant could not use.
Did I hear you say, “Unfair”? Nothing could be fairer! In the words of the late Myles Munroe, the richest place on earth is the grave because it warehouses incredibly huge amounts of talents never invested!… continued
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!