The 521 Profile: The Two Talent Man
For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one,
to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.
And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' 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.'
The man given the two talents... the second largest amount of gifts. Obviously the two talent man is trusted, valued, and counted on to do something exceptional with what his master had given him. Like the five-talent man, the two talent-man is capable and possesses abilities and skills that have put him in unique place of opportunity. But, in spite of that... the potential for struggle and the implosion of the two-talent man to weave its way through every aspect of his life from the moment he receives his gift from the master is there. The danger of losing the momentum from the moment is immediate simply because of the potential misperception that the master viewed him lesser than the five-talent man, by not giving him a gift of the same amount. This is real. I personally have a great admiration of the two-talent man for these very reasons. In context of the 521, let me explain.
First, the two-talent man must resist the temptation to compare himself to the five-talent man. If he does not, then he will miss the opportunity given him while he struggles down a path overcome with pride, jealousy, frustration, anger and then bitterness, while trying to answer the questions he does not need to ask, and answers that do not matter. Why, didn't the master give me five-talents? Does he not trust me as much? Haven't I worked just as hard? Don't I deserve the same amount of talents? To compare gifts, talents, and abilities to others is emotionally and spiritually unhealthy. Eventually, it will destroy any opportunity for significant growth, mature development, and meaningful achievement. The unhealthy comparison invites jealousy and anger that destroy the good heart and right attitude needed to capture and maximize the momentum of the moment. The opportunity given by the master to the two-talent man is incomparable, and has absolutely nothing to do with the five-talent man.
Second, the two-talent man had to overcome the self-doubt and disbelief that can quickly follow a moment of perceived unfairness, being overlooked, or of feeling victimized by preferential treatment. What's wrong with me? Am I not good enough? Does he know something I don't know? What did I do wrong? Is anyone ever going to give me my chance? The struggle of self-doubt is devastating and crippling at its worst, and it is distracting and undermining at best - either way it is not good. The seeds of self-doubt must never be planted nor allowed to sabotage the momentum of the moment.
As with the five-talent man, seizing the moment is about capturing the momentum of the experience and doing something valuable and meaningful with it. This is a good time in the 521 process to ask ourselves two very important questions.
What is, or what was that moment for me?
Did I seize the momentum from that moment?
In the story of the five and two-talent men, they each used the momentum of the moment to do something extra-ordinary with talents and gifts they had given. The moment was that instance they were given the five and two-talents from the man they each loved and admired. They used the momentum to double his gift. They knew he would return with an expectation of what they had done with what he had given. They realized the talent was more than money - it was opportunity to grow, to prepare, to show who they had become as trusted and valued servants. The neither wasted time with the typical and inherent stumbling blocks and obstacles that naturally come with a circumstance such as theirs. They moved past their past and prepared for their future. They overcame any temptation to arrogance and prideful behavior - this is a significant obstacle and should be recognized as such. They did not allow themselves to go there, instead the five and two-talent men immediately maximized the brand, image and reputation of their master - not their own. The illustration is to business, the application is everyday all-day living, but the context is spiritual and the commitment being loyal, faithful, fruitful, and prepared. They were given more than money, talents, and gifts - they were given a mission with meaning and of genuine consequence. Yes, different gifts. Yes, different amounts and not equal. More importantly, equal opportunity, equal expectation, and, yes, equal trust.
Our connection to the five-talent man is important. The two-talent man is one who must not only seize his opportunity and multiply his gifts - but must be one who overcomes the reactive obstacles presented by human nature and emotion. A nature and emotion that often takes us sideways and derails our mission and purpose. Many of us can see ourselves in the two-talent man. This not a bad thing - it is a good thing. Important to be reminded that... You are trusted, valued, needed, talented, skilled, and determined not to let pride, envy, jealousy, frustration, anger, and bitterness ruin the moment provided and the opportunity given to do and to be something that will bless and enrich not only your life, but the lives of everyone you love. You are not less, you are valued and loved. And that is certainly more.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.