THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
USING OUR TALENTS
Today’s reading: Luke 19:11-28
Today’s parable of the ten gold coins gives us a lesson
on servant leadership. The gold coins refer to talents, which
God gives freely to His people in order for them to serve
What are the talents for? Jesus says to the ten servants,
“Engage in trade with these until I return.” (Lk
19:13). Jesus came into the world in order to reconcile people
to God and to win salvation for them. This he accomplished
on the cross. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he commissioned
his disciples to proclaim this good news of salvation to the
world. They are to do this until he returns once again, at
the end of time. The experience of salvation by people would
depend on their hearing and accepting the good news, which
in turn would depend on evangelizers who are sent to proclaim
that good news. Then, as people are brought into a life in
Christ, their formation needs to continue and to deepen. Thus,
disciples of Jesus, especially servant leaders, are tasked
with winning souls and expanding the kingdom of God on earth,
in preparation for heaven.
What are these talents? They are the gifts God has given us,
such as life, health, mental abilities, skills, resources,
etc. If we understand that we belong to God, are His instruments,
and are just passing through this earth, our focus should
be on serving God and building His kingdom on earth. In this
we make use of our talents. Now we all use our God-given talents
in different ways. Some use them for the kingdom, others use
them for personal benefit, and still others do a combination.
This accounts for the different fruits achieved by the servants.
One earns ten additional coins, a second earns five, and a
third earned nothing.
To the one who earned ten, Jesus says, “Well done, good
servant!” (Lk 19:17a). Jesus is elated. His will is
being done. The kingdom is being built. This is servanthood
at its best. The second servant who earned five is appreciated
and rewarded. He too has served the kingdom, though producing
less fruit than the first. Finally, the third servant is severely
rebuked and condemned. He did not use his talent for the kingdom.
In fact, Jesus calls the third servant “wicked.”
Why? What did he do wrong? Here we need to see what God actually
expects of those whom He calls to servanthood. This is important
because we might just be going through our lives, doing nothing
that is wrong or bad, but we might be surprised when we come
before God at the final judgment and receive condemnation.
What does God expect of us, His servants?
God harvests what He did not plant (Lk 19:21-22), that is,
we do the work of evangelization and mission, and the harvest
of souls belongs to God. God has made Himself totally dependent
upon us to accomplish His will. He gives us talents, but it
is up to us to use them for God’s purposes. Here we
see the critical importance of living our lives as servants
of the Master.
God is a “demanding person” (Lk 19:21-22). Since
God depends on us for the proclamation of the good news of
salvation, which is the all-important work in this life, God
demands our all. This is after all about souls. This is about
experiencing the salvation that Jesus went to such great lengths
to win for us. God expects that we will be fruitful instruments.
If we are not, then what is our existence for? We are to live
not for ourselves but for God. If we are selfish with our
God-given gifts, then the kingdom that God wants to build
through us (that is, all his disciples) will not be built
as widely and as strongly. The giving of gifts to us is totally
connected with the purposes of God for the life of the world,
says that if we do not gather, then we scatter. God gathers
His people, while Satan scatters them. By not gathering the
flock, we contribute to keeping the flock scattered. By not
bringing people into a life in Christ, we in effect keep them
under the dominion of Satan. By not doing the work of God,
which He has entrusted to His people, then we in effect are
doing the work of Satan. Thus we commit the sin of omission.
Thus we do evil.
need to see the great importance of using our God-given gifts
for God’s purposes. If we do not, then we stand condemned.
If we do, we are rewarded and even extolled.
There is another thing. Since we exist for God and not for
ourselves, since God gives us talents in order to serve Him
and His purposes in the world, then our responses determine
whether we grow or diminish in experiencing the fullness of
God’s grace and blessings. The third servant who did
nothing loses his talent, while the first servant is given
the additional talent (Lk 19:24). And here lies a spiritual
principle: “to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken
away.” (Lk 19:26).
do we experience the abundance of blessings that God has reserved
for His beloved people? Just by our faithfulness. When we
serve God with our talents, we not only win a harvest for
God, but we also get a windfall for ourselves. We not only
are extolled by God, but we also increase in our experience
of His grace and blessings.
servant leaders, those who are faithful will be given charge
of ten or of five cities (Lk 19:17,19). Since God depends
on His people for His work, then those He finds dependable
and fruitful will be given even greater responsibilities.
We start off with whatever talents God gives us, no matter
how small our talent might be. If we prove faithful, then
God Himself multiplies those talents. Those who are faithful
in small matters will be given greater responsibilities (Lk
19:17). Further, God not only depends on His people to bring
in the harvest, but also on His servant leaders to continue
to govern His people in His name, preparing them for their
ultimate destination, heaven.
God is about an awesome work in the world. This work involves
the very salvation of souls. It is carrying on the very mission
of Jesus and participating in his salvific work. It can be
truly intimidating, as God calls us to do work that is divine.
Some might be deterred by the challenge and the demands of
true discipleship (Lk 19:21a). Some might be afraid of failure
and displeasing God (Lk 19:20-21).
God just expects that we try to look to His interests and
to do what we can with what He gives us. We might even just
take the easy path and deposit His money in the bank to earn
interest (Lk 19:23). As long as we are working for the kingdom
and using our talents for God’s purposes, then we will
be on the right path. We must not be afraid of failure. We
must simply do our part and be faithful.
of course, when we do even more that just deposit the money
in a bank, when we truly strive to become faithful and effective
instruments, when we utilize our gifts and our talents simply
to glorify God and build His kingdom on earth, when we give
our all while not counting the cost, then we will experience
the fullness of God’s blessings, and will hear Jesus
say to us, “Well done, good servant!”
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Servant Leadership (Part 18) [PDF]