3 Questions to see how you use the gifts you've been given at work
One of the best known stories about how we are to use our gifts and live as Christians in daily life is the parable of the talents. (Matthew 25:14) A certain man leaves on a trip and entrusts his possessions to his servants to be used to do his work. To one, he gives five talents and when that servant returns 10 to the man, he is praised. To another, two talents are given and four returned. To a third, one talent is given but that servant buries it in the ground, covering it up out of fear, and returns it unused to the man. This servant is criticized and we are left with a disturbing impression of what might be intended by this teaching.
Some might conclude from this passage that God favors the rich and powerful or that people with little possessions have nothing to offer. Another way of seeing the story may be in the disappointment the man feels when his gifts are not appreciated. And, in this case, how little trust the third servant had for the man. We might remember how God is always present in the poor and how important even the least of all is treasured by God. It is not how much we think we have. We all have the grace and talent needed for the life we are given. It is more about how much we trust that God will multiply all that we sow in His name.
This is not an easy way of life. But we have a special vocation as Catholic Christians given to us when we entered the Church. Our full initiation into the faith included baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. These are the visible signs that we have changed and are now servants of God in the world. With these sacraments, we took on the work of the Church to live the Gospel and to join with Christ to build the Kingdom.
We have been called as faithful Catholics, to engage the world. The workplace should not be where we forget our baptismal promises, bury our talents, and play by “ dog eat dog” rules. Our work should be the sacred space where we uncover our talents and let them grow and flourish; where they work to heal and build human community letting God multiply the results over and over.
This may seem impossible for some and perhaps only applies to religious and full-time ministers. But through our confirmation, each of us is uniquely strengthened and given the grace, talents and gifts we need to be faithful to our baptismal promises and our vocation as Catholics. However, we must be careful not to assume “worldly” visible success. Remember: “God does not call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful.”
Many workplace conflicts result from a belief that there are not enough resources/rewards for everyone so we focus on getting our share first. As servants, we are called to follow the example of Christ and to love and serve our neighbor. It takes more than just good intentions – we must have the courage to use the grace we have received to act and be visible signs of Christ’s presence in the world.
3 Questions to Reflect on: Your Life at Work
It is said that “insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
1 Who benefits from the results you achieve in your work?
2 Who do you serve in your daily life?
3 What special talent have you left buried for too long?