“You know,” my mother’s kindly eyes sparkled as she spoke, “When I was in real estate school, I learned that you need to take down your personal photos when trying to sell your home.”
“Really,” I hummed while studying her face, waiting for what would come next.
“Yes, that’s right. People walk in and get distracted by pictures of family and friends and don’t look at the house.”
“Hmmm…” That’s interesting. She had my full attention.
“Your post about success got me thinkin. For me,” she waved her hand to where the women in our family gathered, talking and laughing, “this is success.”
I couldn’t stop chewing on that nut of wisdom.
My mother’s words reminded me of “The Parable of the Talents.” This biblical story captivated my mind as a youthful believer and often directs my present choices:
In the parable, a man passes out talents to three servants: the first servant receives five, the second receives two, and the last receives one.
Those receiving five and two invested them and the other buried his one talent out of fear:
” ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'”
I often think about this story when tempted to hoard my money, time, or words. While I rationalize that investing in others requires money, I know that often the more costly price is slowing down my pace and opening my heart. A ride out to visit with my parents on a Sunday afternoon only costs a few pennies for gas.
Upon entering my mother and father’s house, I always spend the first few moments looking at the pictures on the shelves. My heart warms once again. Mom’s right. People enter a home and look at personal pictures. Relationships are the heart and soul of the home.
The Parable of the Talents comes to mind when people ask me what I think true ministry is. They hear about my fifteen years in “paid ministry” and wonder about my thoughts on the subject.
I say “paid ministry” because I no longer believe that “full-time” ministry is only for those who are paid. If you care for your child or help a person change a tire, is that not ministry? Isn’t ministry helping someone at work or loving your family?
What about the time my nephew took to share about his experiences in the Air Force with my students? I wish you could have seen the boys puff up with pride and excitement over the possibility of giving to their country.
Then I pondered all of those divine appointments God brought along when I met complete strangers who shared insight and encouragement with me.
I wondered whether talents were like seeds sown in the souls of others. Maybe encouraging the faith of someone is like planting a tiny bit of grace deep inside of them.
Could that seed sprout and grow into a majestic tree that shelters others? Perhaps that person’s life grows luscious fruit that others pick and eat. This in turn plants more seeds of faith…and the cycle continues.
So today I resolved to step up investing my talents in others through encouraging words, artistic ideas, and gifts of money. I don’t want to miss those little surprises God plants along my daily path, whether smiling flowers or surly weeds.
What a pity to rush right past them because I am consumed with own thoughts. Today I will look for ways to invest my talents, those priceless treasures of the heart.
My mind returned to the previous conversation I had with my Mom.
“I was so busy in full-time ministry that I missed so much of my grandchildren’s lives,” she said with sad eyes.
Now that’s a talent of wisdom worth receiving.