When the editorial team of Chorus asked me to share some of my thoughts on managing talents and finances, I reflected on what were the biblical principles that influenced my thinking and decision-making most and it came down to these two passages: Parable of the servants or talents in Matthew 25:14-30 and the dying words of King David captured in 1 Chronicles 29:13 to 17.
Let me begin with King David.
13 “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! 14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace… 17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously. (New Living Translation)
What better way to learn about managing finance than from one of the richest and most powerful man in his days – King David — who started out life as a shepherd boy. Yet with his massive power and accumulated wealth, David recognised that all that he had came from and belonged to God.
In this passage, at no time did Dave take credit for his wealth. His fundamental attitude was that everything he earned, accumulated or gained came from God. God was the source of his success. If David was a great warrior, it was because God gave him the necessary talents to become one.
In those days, significant power was gained through conquests in battles and wars. In reading through the many campaigns that David engaged in, seeking God and being right before God emerged critical. The key learning point for me is – reliance on God. For me, this means to seek, acknowledge, honour and be right before God in everything I do. (Well, at least that is the intent!)
I constantly have to remind myself that if God is the one who created me then my abilities, talents, and even opportunities come from Him. That being the case, maintaining a close walk with the Lord, serving Him and drawing wisdom and strength from Him, in all that I do is critical to success for me and every child of God.
In practical terms, this means intentionally worshipping Him through serving Him and His church, intentionally praying for His favour, wisdom and guidance at work, in His service, and also in key buying and investment decisions. That said, I must confess that it is easier said than done, and I often find myself having to repent for the “do first then ask God to bless” syndrome.
So for me, the first and most important principle is stay close and stay aligned to God our Father in all that we do.
In the Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25:14-30), each servant was given a talent or money to invest. In other words, each was given some amount as capital. The first two invested the money or “put the money to work” while the third simply dug a hole in the ground and hid the money.
The lessons I learned from the parable are as follows:
Work with what you have. – In this parable, the master expected each of the servants to work with the capital they have. Even the servant with a single talent was expected to do something to multiply it. I personally feel it is important that no matter how small my talent is, I am expected to use it and grow it for God’s kingdom. If I don’t, the talent will not multiply but will diminish. The master was pleased with those servants who had worked with what they were given. For their faithfulness in a little, those servants were given more which leads into the next concept: Multiplication is a gift from God.
Multiplication is a gift from God. The Master gave those faithful servants who practised good stewardship more of His assets to look after. The lesson I learned here is that I need to build capabilities and capital over time starting with what I have, and being faithful in using it. It is for God to decide when and how to multiply and by how much. Thinking or worrying about growth and results do not change things. Let God do as He sees fit.
Here lies a lesson on diligence and faithfulness as well. In the example of the third servant, (verse 26), the Master used the word “lazy” on him and implied that the servant had buried the talent out of plain laziness and not out of caution as claimed.