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(Part 28)


November 13, 2011
Today’s reading: Matthew 25:14-30

Servant leadership is an awesome responsibility, because servant leaders step into the very sandals of Jesus, continuing his work of bringing his salvation into the lives of people, and helping care for his flock. Now that is intimidating! Some who are called would rather not start off on that challenging road of servant leadership, oftentimes out of fear of the unknown, or of failure, or of not measuring up to God’s standard (Mt 25:24-25).

But when we do that, is that it? Have we simply avoided a complication in our future? No! When we are given a talent[2] and we do not use it for the benefit of the Master, we will be severely punished (Mt 25:30). Why? It is the sin of omission. God calls us as His servants and entrusts us with His possessions (Mt 25:14), that is, His work of salvation and the good things given us by which we are to help make a better world. He is depending on us to produce fruit. If we refuse to even try, we are turning our backs on Him, rejecting Him and His plan for the life of the world. That is why we are considered “wicked” (Mt 25:26).

Still, if we truly realized how awesome is the task entrusted to God’s servant leaders, it is intimidating. What then can help us?

One, we will not be measured by the fruit we produce, but by our faithfulness. Even if the third servant had only put the master’s money in the bank and earned interest (Mt 25:27), he would have escaped punishment. God is only looking for willing instruments. It is He who empowers and He who provides the growth. Our task is just to present ourselves and do our work as best we can.

Two, the acceptance, reward and joy of the Master will be the same even if we produced less fruit than others. What the master said to the first two servants, who produced different results, was exactly the same (Mt 25:21,23). We do what we are called to, not comparing with how prominent or outstanding other servant leaders are, not feeling less worthy because we seemingly produce less fruit.

Three, we start with what we have, and God will increase our talent as we prove faithful (Mt 25:28-29a). Servant leadership is a continuing learning experience. There will be ups and downs. We will seemingly fail at times. We start off unsure of ourselves, but will grow as we simply act. God starts us off with what He knows we can handle. Then He gives us greater tasks to do as we prove faithful (Mt 25:21b).

Four, we should know and fear the consequences of inaction or infidelity. Not only will we lose the talent given us (Mt 25:28), such that our spiritual life will be impoverished (Mt 25:29b), not only will we be considered by the Master as a “useless servant” (Mt 25:30a), but we will be thrown “into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” (Mt 25:30). Not to use the talent is to lose the talent, to miss out on being received by the Master with joy, and to end up in darkness outside the wonderful realm of God.

So let us be good and not wicked servants. Let us go about the work of the Kingdom with zeal and vigor and not be lazy. Let us be faithful and thus useful, and not be useless. Let us grow rich and not have whatever little we have to even be taken away. Let us share our Master’s joy and not wail and grind our teeth in the darkness.

And let us grow in greater responsibilities in the work of the Kingdom. Then let us await with wondrous expectation the return of our Master and his settling accounts with us (Mt 25:19).

* * *

[1] See my reflection on this same verse given last August 27, 2011 (On Servant Leadership, Part 25).
[2] Every member of community is given a gift to be used for the benefit of the work (1 Cor 12:7).

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