A Parable of the Talents

For many people, making money simply doing something they love feels like it will never be more than a dream.

The Rev. Hamilton Coe Throckmorton helped every member of his congregation realize that dream was well within their reach— no matter who they were, what they did for a living, or how old they were.

It was in the name of charity, but turned out to be much more.

One Sunday, he delivered a sermon about the Parable of the Talents as told in the Book of Matthew. A master called three servants before him:

“To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”
(Matthew 25:15-18 – New International Version)

The two who doubled their “talents” (a talent was actually a sum of money thought to be more than a $1,000) received much praise and reward from their master. The one who was too afraid to take a risk was punished.

Rev. Throckmorton had a plan. He wanted to give “talents” to his congregants, with the hope that they could find a way to double their money in seven weeks. The proceeds would be given to church missions.

A number of anonymous donors made the effort possible. The church had $40,000 in all.

Each of the church’s members received $50. And most were stunned.

This was a critical turning point for many people.

Most church members rolled up their sleeves and went to work. And the word “talent” took on a whole new meaning.

Some gave their services. A physician used his $50 to pay for gas to get to and from the hospital to take over shifts for his colleagues. The extra money he made and donated was $3,000. A retired Navy pilot used his money to rent air time in a Cessna. He made $700 offering 30-minute flights for $30 each.

Others exercised their creativity. Like the 58-year-old woman who took plain flip flops, beads, and yarn… and created decorative footwear that became a huge hit. She raised $550. A nine year old boy turned ordinary construction paper into magical origami art. He raised $68. An 87-year-old picked up a hammer and rediscovered his love for carpentry making and selling bird feeders.

And this was just the beginning.

A woman who made pendants from sea glass for her grandchildren over the years started to sell them, making $450.

An 81-year-old artist who specialized in painting… discovered a new talent making stuffed dolls. She made $90.

One family pooled their money with another family in the church to offer an elegant dinner party, complete with a professional harpist. They made $1,200.

The stories blossomed over the weeks. The congregation came together talking about their “talents” and what they had achieved.

When seven weeks had passed. The congregation brought back their original talents of $50…. and then some.

They more than doubled the amount originally distributed.

The money was split between three charities, who undoubtedly needed and welcomed the gift. But in that seven weeks, so much more than money was gained.

Businesses were started. Friends were gained. Lives were revitalized. And purpose was fulfilled.

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