THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
TALENTS FROM THE MASTER
Today’s gospel: Luke 19:11-28
Luke’s parable of the ten gold coins differs from Matthew’s
parable of the talents but has the same message for servant
leaders. In Luke, the master gives ten servants one gold coin
each, and the first servant earned ten, the second earned
five, while the third just stored the gold coin. In Matthew,
the master gives one servant five talents, a second two, and
a third one, and the first made another five, the second another
two, while the third just buried the money.
Luke the master gives his servants equal talents. In Matthew
the master gives different amounts according to the servant’s
ability. There is no contradiction. Per Luke, we as servants
are all gifted by God, Who does not discriminate. His grace
and gifts are bountiful, available to all who desire to make
use of them. Per Matthew, the actual gifts given by God depend
on our openness, our desire to serve Him, our becoming fitting
instruments, and His particular purposes for particular services.
Anyway, there are particular principles of servant leadership
we can learn from today’s gospel.
Jesus our Master has gone on to heaven but will return as
King. “A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain
the kingship for himself and then to return.” (v.12).
Jesus already won for us our salvation on the cross. Now he
has returned to heaven, but will come again in glory. Our
task now is to prepare for his second coming.
Jesus our Master entrusts his work, the work of the Kingdom,
to us. “He called ten of his servants and gave them
ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with
these until I return.’” ((v.13). Jesus already
did everything necessary to win for us our salvation. There
is nothing we can add to his salvific work. On the other hand,
this salvation has to be proclaimed, so that people will hear,
believe, call upon Jesus’ name, and thus be saved. In
a real sense, the work goes on. If we proclaim Christ there
will be a rich harvest. If we do not, those intended by God
to be saved, through our work, might be lost.
when Jesus returns in glory as King, we as his servants entrusted
with his work will be called to account. “But when he
returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants
called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they
had gained by trading.” (v.15). But of course! Jesus
entrusts this most important work to us. He has made himself
dependent on his servants to proclaim his salvation. Will
we bring in the harvest already prepared, or waste it? We
will be judged based on what we have done.
Jesus will extol and reward those who have faithfully made
use of the talents given. “The first came forward and
said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional
ones.’ He replied, ‘Well done, good servant! You
have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge
of ten cities.’” (v.16-17). Jesus rejoices when
a servant does what he is supposed to do, what Jesus would
himself had done had he not just entrusted the work to us.
Jesus will reward those who serve him faithfully. Now notice
that we do not have to do spectacular work, such as preach
to thousands in one rally and bring them to Christ. We do
what we can, even in very small matters (like being the one
cleaning up the place after that large evangelistic rally).
What matters is faithfulness. It is up to God to produce the
the reward is proportionate to how we have helped build up
the Kingdom. The first servant was rewarded with ten cities,
while the second servant, who earned five more, was rewarded
with five cities (v.18-19). As it is God who produces the
fruit of our efforts, what determines our reward is not what
we actually accomplish (some are called to greatness while
others to humble service), but the extent of our faithfulness.
Jesus will condemn and punish those who do not use or waste
the talents given them. “Then the other servant came
and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored
away in a handkerchief .... He said to him, ‘With your
own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant.”
(v.20,22a). In the gospel of Matthew this third servant was
thrown into the darkness outside where there would be wailing
and grinding of teeth. Why such condemnation and harsh punishment?
Because the servant was wicked, evil. Why was he evil? He
knew the demands of the Kingdom, how the master had entrusted
his very important work to him, but he did not do anything
and he wasted the talent given to him. “You knew I was
a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and
harvesting what I did not plant” (v.22b). Because of
his non-performance, a soul could have been lost.
those servants already blessed with the work of the Kingdom
and the rewards attendant to that, will be given even more,
while those who do not use their talents will lose the little
they already have. “And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant
who has ten.’ But they said to him, ‘Sir, he has
ten gold coins.’ ‘I tell you, to everyone who
has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even
what he has will be taken away.’” (v.24-26). The
more you serve God with the talents given you, the more He
will multiply those talents, and use you for even greater
work. The one who does not use his talents will eventually
lose it all. Have you not seen how those servant leaders who
do not serve faithfully eventually lose not just their service
but even their life in Christ?
Now in this gospel there are actually two seemingly unrelated
stories. Aside from the parable of the gold coins, there is
the parable about the rejected king interwoven into the narrative.
This latter parable is not in the counterpart parable in Matthew.
However, the two parables are actually related.
parable of the gold coins is about the use of talents given
to us to build the Kingdom due to the urgency of the times.
Though Jesus might not yet return for centuries or even another
millennium, we are already in the end times, judging by the
signs of the times as told by Jesus himself. So Jesus teaches
in this context. “While they were listening to him speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there
immediately.” (v. 11). The work is indeed urgent and
though Jesus is King, Lord and Savior, the world has rejected
him. “His fellow citizens, however, despised him and
sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not
want this man to be our king.’” (v.14). The Christian
nations of the world, especially in the western world, have
not only discarded their Judeo-Christian values but have been
rabidly antagonistic to the Church. The majority of Catholics
are lapsed and lost, and have even become the enemy within.
will be dire consequences to such rejection and rebellion,
when the Lord returns once again. To those who oppose Jesus,
they face death and not life. “Now as for those enemies
of mind who did not want me as their king, bring them here
and slay them before me.” (v.27). They will go off,
not to heaven as Jesus intended, but to eternal fire.
So, dear servant leaders, our God is an awesome God, and we
are called to do awesome and demanding work, but be not afraid.
Be not like the third servant, who said, “for I was
afraid of you, because you are a demanding person; you take
up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did
not plant.” (v.21). Precisely, Jesus gives us the privilege
of planting so that he can later harvest. We are made God’s
co-workers. We participate in God’s work of salvation.
Indeed, given the importance of the work given to his servants,
should not Jesus demand our corresponding effort?
you see, even if we do not, perhaps because we are somehow
unable to, respond to the utmost, we could still escape dire
punishment. Jesus could have accepted a minimum effort: “why
did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would
have collected it with interest.” (v.23). Many servants
are called, and their collective production is what is important,
some with high returns and others with less.
course, if we really understood the work of the Kingdom and
our part in it as servant leaders, then we would give our
all. Jesus gave us his all. We are called to do nothing less.
“After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey
up to Jerusalem.” (v.28). Jesus went on to the cross,
won for us our salvation, and before going up to heaven, instructed
his disciples (us) to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom.
This is our all-important work.
let us go, in the power of the Spirit, to be witnesses to
Jesus in Jerusalem .... as well as to the ends of the earth.