Time, Talent, Pride

“The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.”

(Mt. 25)

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

(Lk. 12:48)

God is busy, may I help you?

Not long ago, I came across a blog post that asked, “How big is your plate?” She was reflecting on busyness and how we prioritize our commitments. How to set limits, to say enough is enough, I can’t do any more. I thought of my mother telling me, “You can do many ministries consecutively, but not necessarily concurrently.”

Among people of faith, there’s a strong predisposition to encourage women to focus on the vocation, or ministry, of motherhood, and to lay the rest of it aside until that commitment is largely fulfilled. But as I was pondering last week, if we’re given gifts—talents (how interesting it is that the word should be translated that way!)—are we not meant to use them all? And if we simply ignore them for a couple of decades, aren’t we, in effect, burying them?

That is the question each one of us faces. Where do we draw the line between giving back/paying forward the gifts we have been given, and thinking the world can’t possibly get by without our particular charism? One is stewardship; the other is pride. And it’s really easy to stray across the line.

A few years ago I probably would have built a big soapbox and tried to tell the world how to tell the difference. But like another blog friend, the more I learn about God, the less certain I am of anything except that absolute certainty is more likely to be a harbinger of pride than stewardship. I can’t claim to know where anyone else’s line is drawn. I can only do my utmost to stay on the right side of it in my own life…and to correct course when it becomes clear I’ve wandered into the path of oncoming traffic.