Armodoxy for Today: Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs. They are risk takers. They are one, to a few, steps ahead of everyone else. Much more than a good business person, they are looking for the prize at the end of the game. The rewards are great but so are the losses if they fail. There are formulas for risk assessment and a good business person will weigh out the pros and cons of his or her actions. Though, arguably, an entrepreneur might we heavier on the risk side of the equation.

Jesus shares a parable, often referred to as the “Parable of the Talents,” in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25. As I read through it, think of yourself in the position of each of the employees.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called three of his employees and gave them various amounts of money. And to one he gave $500,000 to another $200,000, and to another $100,000, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the $500,000 went and traded with the money and made another $500,000.  And likewise he who had received $200,000 gained $200,000 more also. But he who had received $100,000 went and dug in the ground and hid his employer’s money. After a long time, the employer came and settled accounts with them.

“So he who had received $500,000 came and brought $500,000 more, saying, ‘You gave me $500,000; look, I have gained $500,000 more.’ The boss said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful employee; you have proven yourself over a few things, I will make you in charge of other things. Receive this promotion with added compensation and a huge benefit package. He also who had received $200,000 came and said, ‘Boss, you gave to me $200,000; look, I have gained $200,000 more.’ His boss said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful employee; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you in charge of much more. Receive this promotion with added compensation and a huge benefit package.’

“Then he who had received $100,000 came and said, ‘Boss, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not labored.  And I was afraid and went and hid your money in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

“But the employer answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy employee, you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not labored. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the money from him, and give it to him who has the most of the three.

“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable employee out of our organization…’

And this is how Jesus ends the parable. Three amounts to three different people. We are all different, and there is a basic inequality in life. The amount of money is different to graphically illustrate the possessions we are all born with, namely our talents. Some have more, some have less, but from each an accounting is demanded. The accounting is based on how we have used our talents, and what did they yield. The only one who was unexcused was the one who was too afraid to use his money, or talents.

The parable may have sounded like a page from the entrepreneur’s manual, but it’s not. It is Jesus telling us that the gifts granted us God are meant to be used, not kept hidden. There are risks in all actions, but God asks us to evaluate the pros and cons of our actions and if necessary, lean on the side of the risk, keeping the prize in mind. That prize, Jesus mentions at the beginning of the parable, namely, “The Kingdom of Heaven.”

Some editorial liberty was taken in the parable to accommodate for relevance and adjust for inflation.

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