If you Google “wasting talent,” a plethora of hits return—8,380,000 to be exact. Judging by a sample of the titles, you can tell that these entries deal with similar content:
- “Talent Is Not Enough for Success,”
- “Are We Wasting Talent?”
- “Wasting talent Reduces Profit”
- “Is Silicone Valley Wasting Its Talent on Foolish Ideas?”
We are a society immersed in the idea of identifying and then encouraging the use of talent. Is this not why we have local talent shows and even network programs like America’s Got Talent?
This is a good thing—at least in that we tend to want to see people reach their potential, and when they do, they contribute something worthwhile (hopefully) to society, their communities, etc.
How many people, though, are aware that the idea of having and then wasting talent began in the Bible, specifically in one of Jesus’ parables?
Jesus’ Parable of the Talents involves a scenario wherein, before a journey, a man gives each of his three servants a sum of money (a talent), based on his ability: five to the first, two to the second, one to the third (25:15). The first servant invested his five talents and received five more for his efforts (25:16). The second servant did the same, receiving two talents for the two he invested (25:17). The third servant, worried about losing his master’s money, buried the talent (25:18) and, upon the master’s return, returned the one talent. Although the master praised the first two servants, he chastised the third for being lazy (25:26): when you’re giving an opportunity (in this case, in the form of money), you should do something with it to grow your opportunities.
So then people apparently began to see that if you are born with a certain ability—an opportunity—you are required to do something with it. These abilities were then referred to as talents.
It’s interesting to see what we now think of as having a talent to be a concept founded on money. It’s also interesting that nowadays, people who possess a great talent are often paid handsomely for it—think musicians, actors, athletes, etc. I could invite a conversation about the type of talents that are rewarded financially (like these) and the ones that are not—like being a public school teacher, for example. I won’t, however. For often times we tend to encourage people to develop talent that WILL earn them financial reward. If not, do we think of these people as wasting their talent?
Next up: The Gospel of Mark. I’m curious to read his take on this same/similar set of events.