Have you ever used the phrase - what a waste of talent? I've been using it a lot recently but not because of this week's Gospel. Check out the Gospel and then I'll tell you what I've been doing with my talents.
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.' Matthew 25:14-15, 19-21
Jesus shares this particular parable directly with His disciples. In it Jesus makes clear reference to talents which in their most basic form are a measure of weight. A Roman talent would have weighed about 70 pounds. When this measurement was done using precious metals there was potentially great value in the talent. Jesus' message was that the servants are expected to increase the value of the Master's talents. In so doing they are affirmed by the Master and given even more talents.
As is typical in Jesus' parables there is explicit meaning as well as deeper meanings. In this case the explicit is that Jesus is talking about a financial "talent" that is meant to be invested wisely. There is also the implicit understanding that talent can be understood as ability. Carrying that analogy through, points you and me to our God-given "talents". And that is where I have been spending a lot of my time lately.
I just recently certified as a Strengths Finders coach. It is an assessment that identifies a person's strengths, ordering them from 1 through 34. Most people start with the basic assessment that identifies their Top 5 strengths. I coach people through their Top 5 strengths so they understand how God has equipped them. I use this graphic to explain exactly what a Strength Finders strength is:
You can see here how having talent isn't a guarantee that we produce a return on our Master's "investment." Talent can be wasted! We are all called to invest in our God-given talents in a way that builds the Master's kingdom. The coolest part of Strengths Finders is that in each of our Strengths (talents) there is a uniqueness that God has hard-wired into us. Mathematically it is a 1 in 33,000,000 chance that you will meet someone with your same Top 5 strengths in the same order. As Psalm 139 says, "You are fearfully and wonderfully made."
We are all called to invest in the talents that God has placed within us. When we do we can look forward to hearing our Master's words: 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.'