“For the Kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.” — Matthew 25:14
Are you leading your team wisely? How well are you and your team managing the assets God placed under your care? Are your team members utilizing their talents to their fullest potential?
Wow! Jesus has done it again. We have gleaned so much from the story of the talents in Matthew 25 already that I never expected to glean another lesson from the passage. However, in taking a closer look, there are several lessons that the master of the servants, who represents our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, can teach us, based on how he managed his servants. Every time we look at the story, we tend to focus on how the servants responded with their talents, but the real businessman in this story is the master who entrusted his servants with the talents. He was able to double two of his investments and protected one from total loss, and then he took measures to ensure that his future investments were guaranteed to at least double. What business lessons can we learn from this character?
- He had some assets to invest – The master called his servants and gave them his assets to invest (Matthew 25:14). He had assets and made sure they did not remain idle while he was traveling. An asset is something you have of value that can generate revenue. No matter what your circumstances, make sure that you are always aware of your assets and how to put them to work. Revenue generation begins with proper asset allocation.
- He prepared his servants – He gave talents to each of them according to their unique abilities (Matthew 25:15-16). He made sure that his servants were trained and equipped to handle the talents he gave them. He did not give them more than they could handle, but rather gave them exactly what he knew each of them could manage. We must ensure that our staff and associates are properly trained and equipped to do what we expect of them. We must not give them responsibilities beyond their abilities.
- He diversified his investments – The master put his investments into the hands of three of his most trusted servants. He could have given all of the investments to the one who was able to multiply the five talents, but that would have increased his risk. To ensure that he not only protected his investment but also increased their value, he diversified them. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket; diversify. This ensures that you minimize your risks, maximize your returns, and protect your assets against possible loss.
- He delegated responsibility – After he gave them the talents, he went on a journey (Matthew 25:15). He completely left his servants with full responsibility of the assignments he had given them. So many times, we delegate responsibility to individuals within our organization without giving them the authority to manage the responsibility. We must not micro-manage our staff nor delegate menial tasks to them, but rather demonstrate our trust in their abilities by completely letting go and allowing them to handle the responsibility we have entrusted to them.
- He held them accountable – After a long time the master came and settled accounts with them (Matthew 25:19). Although he trusted their ability, he made sure they were accountable to him for their performance. We must keep our people accountable for results. A lack of accountability produces a lack of performance and even hurts morale. There is a saying that goes, “You must inspect what you expect.” Without accountability, the flesh is unruly and undisciplined.
- He rewarded them for their productivity – The master rewarded the servants who had the five and the two talents with greater responsibilities and ultimate fulfillment. You must have a reward system in place for your people. Individuals are driven by incentives. Hopefully you have a strategic plan with clear measurable goals and objectives. You must connect those goals to a reward system that allows your team to know that productivity will be rewarded. Be very careful though not to reward people for what they should be doing already. Individuals should be rewarded for meeting the benchmark and going the extra mile. Do not delegate their rewards to eternity; they need them now.
- He disciplined the unproductive servant – The master rebuked the unproductive servant, took the talent from him, and gave it to the one with the ten talents (Matthew 25:26-28). He confronted the unproductive servant, explained his disappointment, told him what he should have done, and administered the appropriate discipline. One of the weaknesses among Christian entrepreneurs is in the area of disciplining their staff. In the name of Christian love, we have a tendency to create an undisciplined workplace. Remember that God chastises those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). If you do not have the courage to discipline your staff, it means you either do not love them or you are operating out of fear, which is not of God. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
It is our responsibility to apply these principles in our business affairs; otherwise, we will suffer the consequences of being disciplined by our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. That discipline may manifest itself in business failure and maybe eventually in eternal punishment, as it did with the servant who had the one talent.
My prayer for you today is that God will give you the grace to apply this wisdom to your business so as to build a profitable and sustainable business that honors and glorifies the Master.