About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Another Parable of the Talents

Real life is getting in the way of blogging at the moment. But Steve Holmes’s recent posts on Junia have reminded me of something I posted on my former blog, The Aardvark Conundrum. In the light of Steve’s comments, I thought I’d re-post it. The content was originally posted on 26 October 2009.

Another Parable of the Talents

There was once a wealthy man who had 30 talents, which he wanted to invest while he travelled around the Mediterranean for a few years. He divided the 30 talents equally among his three children and appointed a man, a close friend of the family who knew the children well, to act as a financial advisor.

After many years, the wealthy man returned and eventually asked his children about the money he had wanted them to invest. The first child, a son, the eldest, came to him, looking pleased with himself.

“Father,” he said, “our friend, whom you appointed as a financial advisor, offered me excellent advice, and I am pleased – nay, very pleased – to say that I have quadrupled the 10 talents that you have me!”

“Oh, that’s good news, son!” cried the wealthy man, visibly proud of his son’s achievement. “As a reward, I shall let you have 80% of your profit, for you have shown me that you are indeed a wise and dutiful son. Spend it however you wish!”

The second child, the wealthy man’s only daughter, came hesitantly to him.

“Father,” the daughter said, “our friend, whom you appointed as a financial advisor, told me that although you loved me very, very much – indeed, as much as your sons, my brothers, and that I was equal to them in your eyes; nonetheless, our friend said that I should not do anything to invest the talents you gave me, but merely to use them to fund other endeavours. He said that these endeavours would be just as important, even though, strictly speaking, I would not have been doing what you had asked me to do. So I am afraid that all I have been able to do is to spend seven of the talents you gave me. The remaining three are here, completely untouched.”

The wealthy man studied his only daughter, nodding slowly and stroking his beard. “I understand,” he comforted. And his daughter stood and left the room.

The third child, another son, the youngest, entered. He had a wild look in his eye, and, when he came to sit, moved the chair slightly away from his father.

“Father,” the son said, “our friend, whom you appointed as a financial advisor, told me that my behaviour – my mood swings, my fondness for beer, my sometimes colourful language, my eye for the ladies – our friend told me that all these things meant that I would poorly represent you in business meetings, and that it would be better off if I didn’t invest or spend any of it. Of the 10 talents you gave me, I have 10 talents – and I’ve done sod all with them!”

Immediately, the wealthy man called for his friend, whom he had appointed a financial director.

“My friend, we have known each other for some time, and you know my children well,” he began. “But I am disturbed by what I have heard today. I asked you to offer advice to my children on how they should invest the money I gave to them. And I understand that you did this for my son, my eldest son. I am pleased.

“But what is this I hear about my daughter, my only daughter whom I love dearly, and my youngest son?” the wealthy man continued. “I wanted you to advise them about how they should invest my money, not what else they could do – or not do! – with it.

“My daughter is intelligent, and excels her eldest brother in many things. He quadrupled my money; but I have every reason to believe that she, too, would have quadrupled the money I had given her, and perhaps added even to that. I am displeased that you denied to her the opportunity to invest what I had given to her to invest as she saw fit.

“And what about my son, my youngest son? I know he has his problems. He has always been fiery; he has always had addictions of some sort; he has never adhered to social conventions; but I love him. Moreover, I gave him 10 talents to invest; if he did not invest wisely, I would have demanded an explanation from him. But the fact is, he never had an opportunity to invest anything, not even a single talent, so that he might not damage my reputation. But I can defend my reputation myself.

“You are my friend, and I appointed you as a financial advisor for my children because I believed that you would offer good advice on the basis that you have known them for quite some time. But you have taken what knowledge you have of them and used it to diminish my only daughter and my youngest son.

“Why did you not allow my daughter, whom I love as much as my sons, to invest the talents I have given her? And why, in the case of my youngest son; why did you prevent him from investing at all?

“I wanted my children to invest, to be fruitful; but you have ravaged my daughter and destroyed my youngest son.”


  1. The suspense is killing me.. please post the rest.

  2. That's the whole thing, I'm afraid.

  3. Please explain as a Christmas gift.

  4. When I wrote the parable, I had in mind ministers (i.e. the financial advisor) who prevent people in their congregations from participating in leading worship, preaching, etc., on the basis of gender or personal issues. I don't believe that God expects us to be thoroughly sorted before we begin to accept God's calling on our lives. But ministers who do expect this are in danger of causing even more damage.