This past Sunday found many of us discussing the parable of the talents. This parable is especially powerful to me because of what it teaches about God’s plan for us. God’s plan—at this stage—is not about a particular set of outcomes being credited to us. Instead, God wants us to join with Him in sculpting our will and internal resources toward ends He knows will lead us to realize our full potential. In other words, the Gospel is about our “becoming” through imperfect actions under God’s guidance.
In the parable, the master praises the servants who acted to increase their talents. When praising the faithful servants, the master’s choice of words does not depend on the number of talents possessed by the servants at the end of the day. On the other hand, the master condemns the servant who does not try to increase his talent because he is afraid of the risks that come with such an action. In particular, the master reminds the servant that he (the master) reaps where he has not sown. The master can be seen as suggesting that he and his plans do not depend on the gains or losses experienced by the servants. Instead, the master’s purpose is to help the servants become good stewards through the opportunity to act on their own to put their talents to use.
In a related way, God has arranged His plan so that the consequences of our mistakes, sins, and imperfections will not, by themselves, hold us back from progressing and returning to Him. What freedom He has given us! We need not be held hostage to concerns that our imperfections might thwart His plan. In fact, it is immobility arising from such concerns that would actually thwart God’s plan for us.
It is easy to lose sight of this very fundamental fact—we must learn to exercise our own judgment through action if we are to progress and fulfill God’s plan. Getting hung up on our imperfections or limiting our actions out of fear of making mistakes misses the point. Having imperfect judgment and abilities means that we will make mistakes of all kinds. But the point of our lives is not to avoid individual missteps. The point is to grow through exercising our will through action. Understanding this not only helps us do the right thing, but also helps us to see ourselves as God does.
In writing this very post, I am reminded of how easy it is to forget the lesson from the parable. As I type out my thoughts, it is easy for me to be beset by concerns about whether or not I am turning out a good post: Will I be able to convey my thoughts in a clear manner? Will I write something that will be mundane and unnecessary? Will it be too long? Will it make a difference to someone? Will I later regret having written the post?
In the end, whatever I write will surely be imperfect. I can let my concerns cause my writing of the post to consume too much of my time, and I can even let my concerns prevent me from posting at all. However, when I realize that the writing and the sharing of the post—imperfect as the post may be—are not so much aimed at producing a perfect result as they are aimed at sharing, connecting, and growing through imperfect actions, I find the perspective to do it. And, in so doing, I find joy unhindered by imperfections and growth that would be impossible without imperfect actions.