You have three options for what you can do with your life. You can waste it on pursuits that don’t matter. You can spend it on making a name for yourself. Or you can invest your life in ways that will bring God glory for future generations.
Leaders invest their lives in ways that will outlast them. I want you to have that kind of ministry—one that will still bear fruit years after you’re finished on this earth.
Matthew 25 gives us seven great principles for how to make the most impact on others for generations to come. I’ll share the first four principles this week and the next three the following week.
The Principle of Ownership
From the very beginning, God said our role on earth was to take care of his world (Genesis 2:15). We’re managers of what he made.
Matthew 25:14 says, “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them” (NIV). In this parable, the master represents God, and we are the servants. Like the servants in the story, God has entrusted to us relationships, gifts, privileges, and responsibilities—and to use them all to bring him glory.
Psalm 24:1 echoes this point: “The earth belongs to the Lord, and everything in it” (NCV). What we have is simply on loan for the next 75 years or so—then we get to pass it on.
The Principle of Allocation
Jesus says of the three servants in the story, “To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:14 NIV).
Originally, talents were a measurement of money. But as this story has been told for two thousand years, the word “talent” has come to represent whatever God has entrusted to us. Think about talents in three categories: abilities, resources, and opportunities. All three are based upon trust. They are all gifts of God we don’t own. Instead, they’re on loan to us.
Notice the amount given is different for each of the workers. While everyone has different abilities and levels of talent, everyone gets something. God didn’t make any “no-talent” people. Romans 12:6 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (NIV).
The Principle of Accountability
God expects us to make the most of the abilities, talents, opportunities, and resources he has given us. He has made an investment in us, and he wants a return.
You can see this in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:19: “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them” (NIV). One day God will audit us!. You will give an account of how you’ve wasted, spent, or invested your life.
God will ask one question at this audit: What did you do with what I gave you?
The Principle of Utilization
You shouldn’t bury your talents. When God gives them to you, he expects you to use them.
In the Parable of the Talents, we meet three servants. One is given five talents, and the servant doubles those. The master gives the second servant two talents, and God doubles those. God is pleased with the first two servants because they invested what he has given them.
The third servant was cautious with what the master gave him. He buried the talent and didn’t earn anything with it. The master responded by reprimanding him because the servant didn’t even try. His sin was inactivity.
You can’t please God by playing it safe. You must take risks with what he has entrusted to you.
When I die, I want four words written on my tombstone: “At least he tried.” I’ve set some big goals for Saddleback Church and some big goals for my life. I may never reach them, but that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that I’m going to die trying.
Next week, I’ll share three more truths from Matthew 25 on how to invest your life so that your ministry outlasts you.