The parable of the talents is one of the most famous that Jesus told. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells of a master who gave to three servants according to their abilities. To the first, he gave five bags of gold, two bags to the second, and one bag to the third. After a time, the master returned to see what his servants had done with what he entrusted to them. The first, to whom he gave five bags, came to the master and presented ten bags. The second also doubled what his master had given him, returning four bags to him. The third came to the master and gave him back the one bag he had been given. He said he was afraid to lose it and buried the bag to protect it. The master was disappointed and called the servant lazy for not even investing the money at the bank so it could earn interest.
I was recently reminded of this story, and it made me think about the daily opportunity that each of us has to invest our talents. I used to think of this story as merely encouragement to use the gifts we have been given. For example, I've been blessed with a good singing voice. For a while, I trained as an opera singer. Now I sing in my church choir, and I wish I had the time to invest in that talent again.
How many of us invest at the gym in order to reap a reward of a healthier self afterwards? I know I do. As I run and feel the burn, I think, "Boy, I'd rather be on the sofa right now, but I know I'll be glad I did this later." It's thoughts like those that keep me running the good race.
At work, we are often met with opportunities to invest our talents. With every new project comes a new learning opportunity to grow your knowledge and skill set. Will you choose to be a participant? Will you hide in fear like the third servant if the project requires you to extend yourself and grow? Will you trail blaze a little, feel the burn, and be glad you put in the effort at the end just like the gym investment? Going out of your comfort zone doesn't mean you won't fail sometimes. As my mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, taught me the famous words of Mary Kay Ash, "You fail forward to success." Each failure teaches you something to grow and be better next time. You only have to choose not to be afraid of it.
Find every opportunity to raise the bar for yourself and go outside of your comfort zone to grow yourself. With that level of investment, you're sure to double your reward like the first servant. Conversely, if you choose to be a passive participant in life, like the third servant, you won't get too far and won't see a reward. I encourage you to go beyond just using your talents, and truly invest them. You can!