The Parable of the Talents is one of the places Jesus teaches us that what we do with what we have been given is important. Its so important that we will be held accountable for what we did with what we were given. If we do well, we’ll get more. If we don’t, even what we have been given will be taken away.
Leading, in a word, is about releasing. Its about seeing and releasing the gifts and talents in the people we have been given to lead. To remain fully in control of their every move is to bury the very talents that God has given us. This parable shows us that releasing control allows for growth where maintaining control prevents growth.
Faith allows us to release where fear forces us to control.
The 5 talent and 2 talent guys had to put their talents to work in the market place in a way they couldn’t fully control. That is faith. The 1 talent guy was always in control of his talent because he never released it into the market place to see what it could produce. That is fear.
I would assume that the 5 talent and the 2 talent guys experienced some ups and downs. I would bet that day to day they weren’t completely sure if they were in the black or in the red, but they allowed their talents to remain at work believing that eventually they’d produce a positive return. The 1 talent guy didn’t have any ups and downs because he was content with things simply remaining the same day to day.
As we lead, we have the choice to lead by faith or by fear. Leading by faith means we will release control and allow the abilities of the ones we lead to see what they can do. This could bring some ups and downs along the way, but its the only way we can hope to really grow (both as leaders and as a team or organization).
Leading by fear will cause us to hold onto control and in doing so limit our (and our teams) ability to grow. Things may go the way we want for a while and we won’t experience the possibility of loss. But when we do that, we also forfeit the possibility of gain.
A leader casts clear vision, trusts the ability of the ones they lead and releases them to go to work. A dictator casts no vision, shows no trust in the ability of the ones they lead and controls everyones actions. In the parable of the talents, we have two leaders and one dictator. I believe its clear to which way worked best.