You’ve likely heard of the parable of the talents that Christ taught in the New Testament. But while the meaning is mostly spiritual, is also has temporal lessons we can learn, specifically regarding how we manage our money.
The parable of the talents
To summarize, the parable of the talents about a rich ruler who leaves for an extended period and bestows some cash upon his servants. He gives each servant a different sum, according to their abilities. One receives five talents, another receives two, and the last receives one.
When the ruler returns, he finds that the first servant doubled his five talents and now has ten, the second servant doubled his two talents and now has four, but the last one hid his talent and never used it. The ruler rewards the first two for their efforts and punishes the third one for his “wicked and slothful” behavior.
There are a variety of interpretations about what Jesus Christ meant when he told this parable. Some believe Jesus was talking about our spiritual talents bestowed upon us at birth. While others interpret this story as a smart money management system.
I’d like to focus on the latter.
4 financial lessons you can learn from the parable of the talents
Here are just a few financial lessons you can learn from studying the parable of the talents.
1. It’s not your money
Everything we’ve been given on this Earth comes from God. In the parable of the talents, the ruler grants his servants some money to invest wisely. So, when the third servant decides to hide the money and not put it to good use, it shows a lack of understanding of the gift he was given.
God grants us our resources and opportunities, and it’s our responsibility to use it wisely as a steward. Paying 10% of your income as tithing isn’t enough; manage the rest of your money wisely for the good of your family and others around you.
2. God expects us to grow
Technically, the third guy didn’t lose any of the money he was given. He returned the exact same amount the ruler had given him in the first place. But, the ruler saw this as an act of fear rather than of prudence. It was a waste of the ruler’s investment because the third guy didn’t even try to do anything to improve his circumstances.
One way to apply this to your current financial situation is to take note of how much you’ve grown in the last year or two. Have you made improvements financially or advanced in your career? If not, you may need to reassess your situation and decide what needs to change in order to help you grow.
Set a plan of what you’d like to accomplish within the next few years and how you plan on accomplishing these goals. This financial plan is a roadmap of where you want to go. Would you like to pay off some of your debt? Would you like to build your emergency savings? How much do you want your income to be in five years? Set up a plan in motion and work towards achieving that goal.
3. Don’t let fear hold you back
The third man was so afraid of losing his ruler’s money, he hid it away. He was afraid that if he took a risk, it wouldn’t pay off. But the ruler saw it as slothful behavior and cast the third man away.
For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. – D&C 88:33
What is holding you back from pursuing that promotion? Why are you putting off creating a budget? The worst thing you can do for your finances is to stop striving to improve your situation. Life is about progression in all things, including finances.
Budgeting teaches you how to be in control of your thoughts and deeds. Advancements in your career can offer you more opportunities to make an impact on more people and build the kingdom of God. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from the opportunity for success.
4. Stop comparing yourself
The ruler gave each servant talents according to his abilities. While some were granted more than others, it was up to them to decide how to utilize their talents. That is similar to how life is today. Some people appear to be more blessed than others. Some are more naturally talented and some were born in better financial circumstances than others. But, in the end, we are all judged according to what we did with what we had, not what we ended up with.
Heavenly Father knows what trials you may have to overcome to get to where you are. So, let’s try to avoid comparing your circumstances to those around you. You may have been blessed with two talents while your next door neighbor was blessed with five talents, but as long as you both continuously strive to improve your circumstances, Heavenly Father will reward you both with the same reward in the end.
Let us be wise with the blessings Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us, so that we too will one day hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”