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13.12.2018

You’re Hired | Connecting with Culture

‘I’m after workers, not shirkers.’

So warns Lord Alan Sugar in the latest series of The Apprentice on BBC 1. Pitting 16 ambitious entrepreneurs against one another over weeks of business tasks, the series sees candidates compete to prove themselves, hoping Lord Sugar will choose to make his £250,000 investment in their business proposal.

It’s a show I find entertaining and depressing in equal measure, as self-confident candidates use Lord Sugar’s contacts and resources to market inedible doughnuts, advertise an airline with an explosion on the logo, and wreck a rooftop garden. One candidate despairs of another: ‘He has the business acumen of a frozen pea.’

But it’s also a programme that reminds us about the responsibilities of working well under someone else and stewarding their resources wisely.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus uses the metaphor of business investment to highlight God’s reckless generosity in giving us Christ, and the responsibility we all have to be generous with his good news.

Here, a master leaves on a long journey, delegating the running of his estate to three servants by giving them ‘talents’ to steward. A talent referred to the largest unit of currency in Jesus’ time; an estimated 20 years’ worth of wages and a sum far exceeding the £250,000 investment from The Apprentice. The first two servants understand the value of what they have been given and immediately put their talents to work. They repay the master’s trust by multiplying the investment. So when he returns, to these two servants the master speaks the most beautiful accolade:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21)

But the master accuses the third servant of being idle and penny-pinching. His talent has been hidden out of fear, buried in the ground. For this servant, the master has only frustration and reproach. Where is the return on his generous investment?

In The Apprentice final this Sunday, the two remaining candidates will fight it out in the boardroom to prove themselves worthy. As Christians, we work to please a master far more generous and patient, who has hired us, knowing we are not worthy at all. Yet to each of us he has entrusted good news to share for his glory. What will we do with it?

Katherine Ladd

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Comments

  1. Every time I hear someone touch on this parable I think about a sermon I heard by Barbara Brown Taylor who challenges the traditional understanding of the parable. Is this parable really saying that God wants a return on his investment or is it a parable about Alan Sugar type Masters. I think many believe God is like Alan Sugar demanding that we double his investment or we’re fired! Perhaps this parable challenges the harsh masters of our world to be more gracious – does that make sense!

    I don’t watch The Apprentice – but I do hope Stacey Dooley wins this weekend!!

    By Steve ROUSE - 14th December 2018
  2. Thanks Katherine.

    I agree God has given us good news to share – and share it we must.

    God has also given us minds that can be employed to work for justice for the poor and oppressed. He has given us an ability to keep calm in troubled times and to seek the common good. He has also given us the skills to co-operate as we face the looming environmental crisis together.

    So, let’s use all the talents our God has given us. That really will bring him glory.

    By John Steley - 14th December 2018
  3. A sermon I heard once explained that the third servants main problem was not lazyness or a “not bothered” attitiude, it was fear, a grudging fear caused by a lack of understnading of the true nature of his Master or any real relationship with him. Notice what he says when the master returns:

    “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

    The preacher observed that in the parables we are usually expected to draw a comparison between God and the earlthy master/judge etc. Our Lord and Master is NOT “hard” , or uninvested in his kingdom- just the very opposite. And so it is not that he “requires a return ” from us: rather he expects us to be bold and run risks as we invest in his KIngdom becuause He loves us and we love Him.

    By Jo D - 14th December 2018
  4. Are not the first two servants using money to make money indulging is usury which is forbiddeen. Money does not exist except on paper or computer screens. Using it to multiply more nonexistent stuff is not right. Keep safe and give it back. is the honest thing to do.

    By mary quenby - 14th December 2018

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