The most overlooked part of the parable of the talents is the second half of verse fifteen: the master gives talents to each servant, “…each according to his ability.” The master understood that the one-talent servant was not capable of producing as much as the five-talent servant.
We want to protest this as unfair. Yet we know this is true from our own experience. Diversity is woven into the fabric of creation.
However, culture tells us two great lies about success: you can be whatever you want to be, and you can be the best in the world. These lies are based on the premise that we all are created equal. While we are all certainly equal under the law, equal in God’s eyes, and equal in many other areas, we are not created equal where our abilities are concerned.
Not everyone can grow up to be president or a brain surgeon. Yet, if you say this in many circles you will be quickly chastised and informed that we all have the same potential if we just try hard enough.
But even though we’re not created equal in regard to the talents we’re given, there is equality found in the parable of the talents. It comes from the fact that it takes just as much work for the five-talent servant to produce five more talents as it does for the two-talent servant to produce two more talents.
This is why the reward given by the master is the same. The master measures success by degrees of effort, as should we.
Like the servants in the parable of the talents, God has given each of us unique resources and talents to be used in everything we do, especially our vocational callings. The master gave out a different number of talents to each servant “according to the servant’s ability.” The one talent servant was not expected to produce five talents.
Biblical success is faithfully using all gifts, talents, and opportunities God has given us for the furtherance of his kingdom here on earth. This work should bring us both joy and peace of mind knowing we have done our best, through the power of Christ working though us, to accomplish what he has called us to do in order to make a difference in our world.
As Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10,
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are given different gifts. We can’t be anything we want to be, but we can be everything God uniquely created us to be.
Consider spending some time in prayer and with trusted friends or family members to consider what unique gifts the Lord is calling you to use for him.