I don't remember who or when it was, but I was recently reminded of one of Christ's many parables. As I'm sure you have guess by the title of this post, it is the parable of the talents. Now, there are a few different parables that Christ tells that involve talents, but the one I want to talk about is in Matthew 25:14-29. A quick summary of the parable goes like this:
A man was planning on going on a long trip so he called three of his servants and, according to their abilities, he gave them different talents, or pieces of money. He gave five to the first, two to the second, and just one to the last servant. While the man was away, the first servant doubled his talents and so did the second, but the last dug a hole and hit the talent in the ground.
When the man came back and asked for an accounting on what the servants had done with the money he had given them. When he saw that the first had gotten five more talents, he responded and said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Then it was time for the second servant to account for what he had done. He showed his master that he, too, had doubled what he had been given. To this, the master responded exactly as he had with the first; "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Now it was time for the third servant to show the master what he had done. So he went and dug up the talent that he had hidden in the ground and returned it to the master by saying that he knew the master was "an hard man" so he was afraid to do anything that might lose the talent. The master angrily told the servant that he should have put the money in the bank where it could have at least gained interest and he would have had more than he had started with. The servant was then punished for his laziness.So that is the story in short. This is a great story, but as with all of Christ's parables, there is more to be learned than just how to be smart with money. I find no coincidence in the fact that the money is called a talent. Just like in the story, we are all servants to our Eternal Master who has given us each different talents. To some He has given many talents and to others He has given fewer.
But that isn't the point. Both the servant who was given two talents and the servant who was given five did their best and in the end doubled what they had initially been given. And despite the difference in numbers, they both received the same reward. The exact same reward. The parable never mentions the second servant complaining about the fact that he got less money than the first. He know that the master knew what he was capable of and did his best with it.
We should not worry about how we are doing compared with others, but rather with ourselves. If the second servant had compared himself with the first, I'm sure he would have felt like a failure. After all, he only ended up with 4 talents while the other ended up with 10. That's a big difference! But that is not what matters. What mattered was the fact that he ended up with more than he started with. And you know what? the master didn't care about the value of what he ended up with either.
One of the lessons I learn from this is that we have all been given different skills and abilities. Some have more and some have less. Our responsibility here on earth is not to compare what we have been given with what others have been given. Our Father in Heaven has given each of us a unique set of talents and abilities that He expects us to use and develop. He doesn't care about how skilled we are when compared with others. He doesn't care that there is someone (often times many people) out there who are better than us at things. What He asks is that we do our best with the spiritual gifts and abilities that He has given us. To develop them and use them to help others. When it comes down to it, that is what is most important. That is what He cares about. And if we do that, then we will receive the same reward and blessings as the others who have been given more abilities who also develop them.
That is something that I struggled with a lot growing up. Because of my disability I was always comparing myself to others and thinking about how I could never compete with them. I thought I would never win, never get the girl, never do anything because there were so many people who were just all around better than me. It wasn't until I had gone through some hard times that I realized that I may not be as good as others at certain things, but I have my strengths. And it doesn't matter to Heavenly Father if I am better than others around my, rather if I am the best me that I can be. Ever since I learned this hard lesson, I have been working on that and trying to improve myself every day--to expand my talents, to develop the skills that God has given me, and to share them with others. It can be really really hard to not compare yourself to others. I may not be the best, I may not be the most popular, and I know I am not the best looking, but I am working on becoming the best me that I can be. And that has brought me the most joy in life and has brought me closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
So what are you doing with the talents that God has given you? Are you developing them are using them to help others or are have you buried them because of feelings of inadequacy?