His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:23
A friend's one sentence prayer turned into a sermon. I meet with a group of moms to pray for my kids' school. Our prayer time is based on a model outlined by Moms in Prayer International. Every week we praise an attribute of God, thank God and before we pray for our kids and their school, we take a moment to confess. Our time of confession can be silent or out loud. Last week, my friend confessed that she felt like the person given one talent, who let fear keep her from using it for God's glory. Her one sentence prayer of confession struck a nerve.
I instantly knew what she was talking about. In Matthew 25 - Jesus told a story about a master who gave his servants differing amounts of money called "talents". Two of the servants took the resources given to them and doubled the Master's money but the third servant hid the talent in the ground. He explained his actions by saying, "so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’" Matthew 25:25
I realized that I have been like that servant and have let my fear keep me from doing what God wanted me to do. Interestingly, I don't think fear of failure kept the servant from using the resources God had given him. I think he was afraid of success. Here's what he said in verse 24, "Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed". When you are farmer, this is success.
Here are some reasons why I think he was afraid of success and why am I afraid of using my talents.
Success means more work- Burying the talent and resources that the Master had given him meant that he didn't have to worry about it. He didn't have to plow or harvest and didn't have to monitor the investment. He knew if he did what the master wanted being successful would make even more work. The servant was lazy. It is important to remember God didn't give him more than he could manage- God didn't give five times as much or even two. He only gave him one talent. God knew his limitations and knows my limitations. I shouldn't let my fear of work keep me from the blessing God has for me.
Success feels insignificant- I feel like my contribution would be too small even if I did my best. I wonder why work so hard with just one talent- it won't make a difference anyway. After studying this, I realized if the guy who had been given the one talent, just doubled it like the other two servants, he would have had the equivalent amount of resources as the second servant who had been given two talents. We all start out with different abilities, resources, families and personalities- all we have to do is use what we are given. The master said that both the servant who had been given five and the servant who had been given two were "faithful over little." While one or two might seem insignificant and five seem like a lot- compared to God's resources- they are a little. Don't let your definition of a lot or a little limit God's work through you.
Success puts a target on your back- It is easy to see that people who are successful face a higher standard and great scrutiny. To whom much is given... The servant feared the master because he was hard. This meant he was focused on the negative and missed out on the blessing. His fear became a self fulfilling prophecy. My fear of people, being judged or making a mistake can create an environment that leaves me open to the judgment I am trying to avoid.
This week I have been searching my heart to make sure I haven't let fear of success and the resulting accountability keep me from doing what God has equipped me and enabled me to do. If God has given me the talents and resources, he will help me as they grow. My fear of not hearing "Well done good and faithful servant" needs to be greater than my fear of hearing people put me down or misunderstand me. My desire to "enter the joy" of my master needs to be greater than the temporal pleasures of not using my talents.
What are some fears about using your talents that you have struggled with? How have you gotten past fear to use talents and follow your dreams?