In all my years of travelling, I’ve often asked my audience’s what their definition of faithfulness is. The common responses I’ve received have been loyal, committed, consistent, reliable, and steadfast. All these are accurate definitions…but there’s a word Jesus associates with faithfulness that I rarely hear:
Consider the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). The master entrusts three different servants with unique gifts, each according to their ability. Two of them went out and multiplied what was given to them, and, as a result, they’re called faithful. This is a very important point we must not miss: The master says, “You have been faithful.”
You can look at it whichever way you like, but there’s nothing else—no action, virtue, or result—highlighted other than multiplication. So Jesus directly attributes being faithful to a person’s ability to multiply.
Now, the third servant was afraid and buried his talents. His master called him “Wicked and lazy!” Yikes! No true follower of Jesus wants to be identified as lazy. I certainly don’t, and I’m sure you don’t either!
So let’s get practical: how do we multiply right where we are? To be more specific: how do you multiply as self-employed, as an entrepreneur, or as a business owner? What about if you’re employed by or serving someone else? To begin, let’s examine Peter’s words of instruction.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10 NKJV)
First, Peter makes it clear that everyone has received a gift, not just those in ministry positions.
Second, we are stewards of those gifts and we are expected to use them for the benefit of others. That’s because the gift of God on your life is not for you; it’s for others to benefit through you. Just like the gift of leading, writing, and speaking is not for me, but for you and those I lead. Therefore, we are to use these gifts willingly with the purpose of building other’s lives.
Third is grace, which is God’s empowerment that enables us to perform beyond our natural ability.
The word manifold here means “of various kinds.” God’s grace is expressed differently through each of us. It would take too many pages to list the various gifts God has given to His people. Some gifts are obvious in their connection to building the kingdom, while many more are not as easy to identify. But one thing is certain, most of these gifts don’t function within the confines of the four walls of the church.
I recently heard a well-known pastor talk about an interesting conversation that transpired just prior to his yearly conference. As the team was setting up the auditorium, the pastor saw a respected medical doctor, who was a member of his church, putting handouts on the seats for the conference delegates.
The pastor went and approached the doctor, “Doctor, you shouldn’t be doing this. We have interns and other volunteers who can handle this.” The pastor reported that the doctor sternly but politely corrected him, “I take off from my medical practice every year for this conference. It’s my most treasured week of the year because I get to do something to build the kingdom of God.”
In listening to my pastor friend tell this story, I grieved for this doctor. I realized he hadn’t connected the dots on the value of his gift in building God’s kingdom. And that’s the far too common dilemma.
Many, like this doctor, have separated the sacred from the secular—elevating those in “vocational ministry” positions while viewing their gifts as insignificant to the building of God’s kingdom. They possess an incorrect view of God’s purpose for their life.
What if there were no doctors? What happens when people who are called in other areas to build the kingdom get sick or diseased? Many would be taken out early without medical help.
Let’s conduct a hypothetical scenario illustrating the connection. A doctor uses his gift by assisting in restoring the health of a stay-at-home mom. As a result, since this woman is not helplessly sick in bed and eventually dying prematurely, she is able to flourish in her gift of raising her children in a godly way.
One child is gifted in the area of innovation, and her mother encourages it. After the daughter graduates with a computer software degree, she takes a position working for a company that develops software.
This grown daughter, now fully operating in her gift, designs a new way of communicating that is far more effective than anything on the market. However, her innovation will not go far without her coworker in the advertising department. He uses his gift to give an awareness to retailers and consumers of the potential of this new software package. One of the retailers, a company owned by a gifted businesswoman, picks up the product. This retail store has a sales team, and one man exercises his gift to sell the software package to a ministry that is called to disciple the nations of the world.
This ministry has a gifted IT person who recognizes the potential of this software and recommends purchasing it. He integrates the software into their existing system. As a result, this ministry now has the capability to more effectively impact pastors and leaders globally. The results: Exponentially more men and women come to salvation and are discipled through the avenue of this software communication package.
At the judgment seat, Jesus will show the doctor, who originally treated the stay-at-home mother, the multitudes of peoples he reached in the nations of the world.
Imagine the doctor’s reaction when Jesus reveals to him the influence he had on others by simply stewarding his gift! Jesus will most likely say to this doctor, “You worked willingly in your medical practice as unto Me rather than for personal benefit, and your fruit is evident. Many were impacted due to your obedience. Well done, good and faithful servant!”
I hope you’re beginning to see how your obedience to steward the gift God has given you produces ripple effects that journey far beyond your final breath. Because this doctor was faithful to the gift on his life, it resulted in the chain reaction that eventually led to numerous salvations and the strengthening of believers that occurred globally.
Now, you may be questioning, Is this idea really supported in the Bible?
Read this: “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord” (Colossians 3:23-24 NCV).
This is just one scenario. There are countless possibilities of these kinds of connections or chain reactions.
Sadly, I’ve often witnessed men and women struggle in positions of full-time ministry because of not recognizing that their gifts would flourish in arenas outside the church environment.
Here is the raw truth: Your gift, whether it operates best in healthcare, education, government, athletics, the marketplace, the arts, the media, the home, or any other arena, has a connection to building the kingdom. The Master Planner designed it this way.
So regardless of where you find yourself, you can multiply your God-given gifts right where you are, right now!