1. Distinctive Assignment
Imagine you’re the master in this story; making plans for your trip and the bags of gold you’ve accumulated. How will you manage such responsibilities? Whom do you trust with what assignments?
This isn’t hard to understand, is it? We leave a list of chores for the kids or make assignments to our staff at work. And, we do so, giving careful thought to what each one can handle. We don’t ask the five-year old to mow the yard or the new employee to write a critical presentation, but we look for assignments that fit their capacity.
Frankly, if this about getting the most for his money, wouldn’t it make more sense to give all eight bags of gold to the five-talent guy? Of course, that would make him an eight-talent guy, wouldn’t it? Why the 5-2-1 split?
Apparently, the master felt that servant number 2 would do better with two bags of gold than servant number 1 would do with seven. Maybe the two-talent guy could excel in some things that five-talent guy lacked. There has to be some reason the master didn’t put all his eggs in one basket.
I see that when I think about the smaller church. That’s the church that seldom finds the limelight or the buzz. They often function in the seeming shadow of bigger places, and I understand when they begin to question their value to the master, but there are distinctive abilities in the smaller church, and things they can achieve that are beyond the reach of the more prominent places.
In a smaller church, relationships can reach a level that isn’t as easily achieved in larger places. There’s a value in being in a place where everyone knows your name and will give you a chance to develop your two-talent skills. And, there’s also a depth of impact that demands intimacy with spiritual leaders. In fact, most great missionaries and spiritual leaders were shaped in smaller places, among seemingly two-talent leaders they could get close to and learn deeply from.
More than 80% of churches in America welcome fewer than 200 people through their doors each week. Many are two-talent places and they were designed to be exactly that—not five-talent folks just beginning to rev their engines. As someone has wisely observed, “God must have a plan for smaller churches. Look how many He made!”
That’s the kind of thinking that causes one to add a middle guy to a parable like this.
Yet, many Christians in smaller places seem to think that bigger is always better and small is a waste of time. They look up at five-talent guys like my basketball buddy, Robert, and can’t find any reason to bounce the ball themselves.
Servant #2 has an assignment that’s tailor-made to his capacity, and the master expects him to embrace that challenge with the same determination and quality effort he knows he’ll get from the first guy.
So if you’re like me and servant #2 is your guy, there’s a distinctive assignment for you and your church and it’s more than just following five-talent guy around and wishing you were him. God hasn’t designed you to be that guy on a slightly smaller scale. He’s invested uniquely in you for a unique purpose, so shouldn’t we get busy figuring out what that is?
I’ll never forget one of Robert’s greatest shots—a buzzer-beater that gave us a two-point win over our archrivals. It was incredible! Our fans flooded the court and we danced in celebration of a victory we wanted really badly. Everybody was hugging Robert, some even tried to lift him on their shoulders. But Robert pushed them away and ran over to lift me off my feet. You see, his game-winning shot only happened because seconds earlier, the smallest guy on the team had squeezed between two opponents, stolen the ball, and then made the pass to the one guy on our team who could hit that shot. There are some things only little guys can do.