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Talent Management

The Parable of the Talents.

Matthew 25:14-30
14 "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.
15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.
17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.
18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
19 "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
21 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
22 "The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'
23 "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
24 "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
26 "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?
27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 "'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

A master goes on a long journey and entrusts his possessions to three slaves. They are given five, two, and one talent respectively. (A talent was a measure of money in that culture.) The first two doubled their talents while the third buried his talent in the ground. The master represents Jesus in this story.

Few principles to learn from this parable :

1. God owns it all.

We simply are a steward, or manager, of God's possessions. Our role is to make sure we guard it and multiply it.

2. God entrusts possessions based on the ability to manage them.

The master apportioned his possessions to his servants each according to his ability. He considered that the servant who received five talents possessed better finanical management skills than the other two servants did. God does the same thing. As we grow in faithfulness and develop our abilities, God promotes us to higher levels of responsibility in His kingdom.

Financial skills are learned. The servant with the greatest skills must have studied the financial markets, such as they existed at that time, in order to learn how to manage his lord's money effectively. It is important to note that he developed these skills before he had any money to invest.

3. Appropriate risk-taking is pleasing to God.

The servants with the five and two talents went immediately and traded with them. Since they traded we can assume that they put their capital at risk - they did not place their money in investments where their principal was guaranteed. Their master praised their actions as well done and called them good and faithful servants. He was pleased that they took some risks to increase his level of wealth. The slave who buried his money and refused to take any risk is the one the master condemns as wicked, and lazy who didn't place his money in the bank so that he would have received his principal back with interest.

The level of risk you assume should correspond to your level of knowledge. People with little or no knowledge of the financial markets should stick with guaranteed investments. The master was pleased when two of his servants took the initiative to increase their knowledge of the financial markets to the point that they felt comfortable placing their capital at risk and trading with the money. The third servant was too lazy to study and increase the level of his ability.

The amount of capital you place at risk should correspond to your level of knowledge. The master doled out his assets according to each servant's level of knowledge. Don't begin your investing experience with your life savings. Put only a small percent of your capital at risk initially. Give yourself a chance to gain some experience and make mistakes before such mistakes could cripple you financially.

4. Learn through your failures.

The third servant made a poor investment choice as the result of his mind-set about his master. His fear of the master caused paralysis. He was unable to think logically and take bold action, so he buried his money in the ground. Many people live in a self-created dread of God's punishment for every mistake they make. But God said, Be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Josh. 1:9). God lifts us by the hand when you fall and encourages us to try again. He is not upset when we make mistakes - He wants us to learn from them.