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?