Today we focus on the famous Parable of the Talents. It is the second parable in Matthew 25. “Talent” in the Parable of the Talents does not refer to singing, artistic talent and the like. It’s a unit of economic value, the weight of gold. In other words, we could title the parable, Parable of the Dollar, or Parable of the Pound, or Parable of the Euro.
The illustration is straightforward. It’s the story of a venture capitalist, a Master who invests in three fresh and untested entrepreneurs. He gave them opportunity. After some time he came back for a business review session with the three, and on the basis of the financial reports presented re-allocated capital. So we do know God the Businessman allocates and re-allocates capital. You need to understand the psyche of God the Businessman. Ironically the servant who gave us insight into this psyche was the third servant, the one who didn’t make use of the capital allocated to him. This is how the gentleman describes him: “I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed.” (Matthew 25:24 AMP) The Message bible puts it this way: “I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error.”
These are thus the characteristics of God the Businessman:
1. He has very high standards
2. He hates carelessness in business
3. He zero tolerance for error
4. He hates disappointment
5. He wants his money intact
6. He’s a hard-nosed businessman
7. He disdains over-cautiousness
It’s interesting the Master never denied these psychographic traits. Instead he affirmed them telling the servant they should have informed his business decisions.
This Master has an investment strategy. And there are three things to note about that investment strategy:
1. He invests in people not business ideas
2. He doesn’t invest in business, he manages a financial portfolio
3. He takes only financial risk not business risk
These are emergent facts from the parable.
God invested in those three young entrepreneurs without showing interest in their individual business ideas. He was never interested in the individual businesses pursued by each servant. He never asked them what business they would like to go into, never asked them to submit their business plans to him. Those are not his concern, those are our concern. You have to take a decision on what business you want to go into. The question of “Should I go into this line of business or not,” is a not a question for determination by a pastor. You have to take responsibility for your business decision and ideas. What God is saying in essence is, I believe in you! He believes you can run a sound business, create a profitable brand. There’s a presumption of ability God has made about you. As far as God is concerned you have what it takes to make it until YOU prove otherwise.
But he knows no matter how wonderful a business opportunity or idea might be, if the person is wrong the enterprise won’t be right! Money will be wasted. If the man is not alright the enterprise will not be okay. So, develop your potential and capacity, and reinforce your values.
Our third observation is that God takes financial risk not business risk. He’s a venture capitalist not an incubator. He trades in finance, like a banker. He’s not interested in the nitty gritty of your business. That’s your business. And that’s why it is said he broods no excuse. He just wants earnings on his capital invested.
But the parable also gives us insight into the two parameters used by God in allocating capital:
1. The first parameter is potential. God allocated money to the servants according to their potential capacities and abilities, not according to sentiment, not according to fasting, not according to prayer. If you don’t develop your potential in business management, God won’t allocate capital to you. Attend seminars, read business books, learn to read financials, business journals, watch business TV, familiarize yourself with the technical jargon of freemarkets, develop your potential.
2. The second basis for allocation of capital is DEMONSTRATED ability. It’s why capital was re-allocated from the man who made no use of his capital, and transferred to the man who made use of his capital. Demonstrated ability. This is why some people can’t understand why God keeps blessing the business of someone they consider “unspiritual.” It’s capacity God is looking at. And that’s not saying we should be carnal. I’m just explaining a phenomenon. It’s important you understand how God reasons when it comes to business. He’s pretty serious about economic resources.
Now, let’s look at the issue of profit. The servants that were commended in the parable were those who made maximum profit on their enterprise. As it is written, “The first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment.” And his master commended him. Ditto the second. We can reasonably conclude that 100% return on investment is permissible. Stop feeling guilty about making profit. That guilt is not from God, it’s from the devil, and it’s religiosity. God is not against the profit motive. In actual fact the man God had a problem with was the one who made no profit. You’re not running a business if you’re not profit-oriented. Your aim should be to double the investment of your Master. That’s how to impress God in business. Profit motive is critical in business.
But what is the minimum profit allowed? The answer is in the parable. When the Master rebuked the servant who returned his money intact, he said, “The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.” In other words the least return on investment God expects on his capital is the prevailing interest rate on fixed deposit! That should provide some guidance on your pricing strategy. You shouldn’t be afraid of making money. God expects it of you.
If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: “Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I know that I am a sinner. I believe Jesus died for me and that you raised him from the dead. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Christ is Lord and I receive him as my Lord and my Saviour. I am now born again. Amen.”
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