This Is What Success Looks Like

You are talented.

Before you shake your head, deny those words, and click the little red X on this page, let me ask you a question: Do you remember the parable of the three servants who were given different amounts of talents?

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story about a master who gave specific amounts of talents (money) to three servants before leaving for a trip. Upon his return, they were to give the money back. Two of the servants chose to invest what they had received while the third servant got to work digging a hole in the ground for safekeeping, hiding what was entrusted to him.

At the time, coins were called “talents.” But if we think of “talent” in our modern context, considering it to be a skill or a gifting, then I confess all too often I live like the third servant.

success is about stewardship

The gift God gave that brings me joy is the same thing that has the power to glorify Him as I encourage others: the written word.

And yet for many years, I buried the words. Instead of offering what was given back to the Giver, I believed someone else would say it better, write it better, do it all better than I ever could. Many years have gone by, but even now, even after publishing a book, even after writing (and publicly sharing) hundreds of thousands of words, God is still teaching me how to walk in obedience when I’m tempted to reach for a shovel.

Sometimes this looks like obediently saying “yes” when I’m scared I won’t be ________ (fill in the blank) enough.

Sometimes it looks like obediently saying “no” while trusting He won’t keep me from something that is for my good and His glory.

But it always, without fail, looks like keeping my eyes on Him as I faithfully take the next step and leave the end result in His hands.

Looking back at the parable, I’m struck by how the master left for “a long time” (25:19). The entire chapter points to the return of Christ for His Bride, and while we’re sometimes quick to say “Come Lord Jesus” when disaster strikes, I wonder what we’re doing (and how we’re living) as we wait for the return of our generous Lord, the Giver of all good things.

In Matthew 25, both servants who invested their talents presented double the previous amount. By using what they had instead of hiding it away, the talents themselves grew. One servant went from five talents to ten. The other went from two to four.

Amazingly, because they each did the best they could with what they were given, they received the same reply: “Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

Success isn't about followers, it's about faithfulness.

The numbers weren’t important.

To look through the lens of 2021: It isn’t about Instagram followers, email subscribers, getting a book deal, having “enough” in your savings account or the title of “influencer.”

It’s about stewardship. It’s about open hands and a heart willing to share what was given instead of burying a gift deep down inside for safe-keeping. It’s about faithfulness and obedience, not about having a platform.

You aren’t responsible for your sister’s talents. I’m not responsible for yours, and you aren’t responsible for mine. You don’t have to do the work of someone with five talents if you’ve been given two, but you are called and entrusted to be faithful with what you have received.

Your talent — your gifting — might be your story. Daring to share what God has done or what He is teaching you is one way to offer glory back to Him. Perhaps your talent is singing or art, listening or writing, speaking or cooking. You might have the gift of discernment or an extra dose of humor. I don’t know what God has given you, but I’m certain He’s given you something that is meant to be shared.

You are called and entrusted to be faithful with what you have received.

The success of your ministry isn’t dependent on the size of your ministry, so let’s look past the numbers and focus instead on obedience. You don’t have to be the best. You don’t need to win it all, climb a corporate ladder, hold a title or rank at the top of a list.

Just play your note. Sing your song. Write your story. Make your art. Be generous with your gifting, and instead of looking left or right at others or burying your talent in the sand, just do your thing bravely.

It will come at a cost, surely. But one day soon, we’ll bow before the Giver and every ounce of all we’ve given back to Him will be worth it one-hundred-times over as these words echo into eternity:

“Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master’s happiness!”

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