In What’s Most Important in the Prodigal Son Story? I shared that while a key part of the story is that the father forgives the wayward son and welcomes him back with open arms, the most important part is that there was a key moment when the son turned from denial and self deception to awareness. The Bible says that the son “came to his senses.” I have also discussed how the perception of something is colored by your point of reference, such as who is a giver and who is a taker in a relationship, or even the RS-232 engineering “standard.” What I have presented as the most important part of the Prodigal Son story would be from the father’s point of view. From the son’s point of view, the most important part would be the father’s forgiveness, love, and acceptance.
After listening to a message on the parable of the talents, I pondered what might be the most important thing from the manager’s viewpoint. If you remember, before leaving on an extended trip, a manager called his three servants and gave one 5 talents, another 2 talents, and the third servant got 1 talent. A talent was a unit of measure, which varied by time and location. But a talent of silver could be in the neighborhood of 75 pounds and could be about 6000 denarii coins, about 20 years wages. Upon the manager’s return the servant who had been given 5 talents and the one with 2 talents had both doubled the amounts for the manager. But the servant with 1 talent had buried the talent and returned the single talent to the manger.
The parable shows that people are entrusted with resources in accordance with their abilities to use and manage those resources. It also demonstrates that we should all strive to make the most of what resources we have been provided. The fact that the term for the amounts of money was “talent” helps remind us that in addition to our time and money, our talents – that is skills and abilities – are also resources that we should make every effort to multiply and utilize to the max. In Andy Stanley’s words, we should leverage our resources to accomplish great things. But this is all from the viewpoint of the servant, the one who is provided resources, who we normally identify with in the parable.
In contrast, I was thinking about the most important idea from the manager’s viewpoint. I believe this would be the desire of the manager: to truly discern the abilities of his servants or employees, and to distribute his resources in accordance with those abilities. We saw that the five talent and two talent servants were worthy of the trust of the manager, and were successful in multiplying the resources they were provided. We also saw that the servant who was not very trustworthy met the manager’s expectations as well. But the key from the manager’s point of view was that he correctly determined who could be trusted to make the most of the most resources.
So, while a servant or employee needs to concentrate on being a good steward and properly leveraging what he is provided, the manager must properly and logically distribute the resources to allow the maximum leverage to be accomplished. It seems that the same principle would apply to the point of view of a father as well. The father would like to provide the most resources to the children who can best leverage and maximize the accomplishments of those resources. However, the ability of a father to do this is a much more difficult task than that of a manager. The manager’s priority is accomplishment of the best increase possible in his resources. The father’s first priority would probably be the equitable distribution of the resources. After all, the father has an equal love for all his children, despite the fact that each has different sets of talents and abilities, or different personalities and characters.
So what’s a father to do?
(1) Be as fair as he can, try to provide equal resources, and try to help each of his children when they need help
(2) Let each child know that he loves them, unconditionally, hopefully in a manner that they know they are loved, accepted, and forgiven when appropriate
(3) When he sees he would have preferred to have done something a little differently, put the past in the past, and move on.
What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you – feel free to comment below.