The funny thing about Jesus – and let’s face it, of all the things that Jesus was, he was a very capable humourist – is that he could say the things he did with a straight face.
It comes to mind because we were just talking about talent, Liz’s writing talent for her authorship of a story about a reporter carrot. See http://www.dailydad.net/2013/mr-carrots-exciting-day/
What specifically comes to mind is a funny (if not disturbing) story that Jesus told.
There were three dudes, each given a significant wad of money by their boss. He told them to take care of it while he was away. One dude was given five talents. One three. The third dude, a single talent.
Lost on modern audiences is that a talent, a unit of measurement in ancient Roman times, was a significant wad. It was about 80 pounds. So imagine 80 pounds of silver, which at that time was 20 years of wages for the average worker.
So The Boss gives Dude One five talents, that is 400 pounds of silver. Four hundred pounds. Get out the forklift.
Dude Two gets 240 pounds of silver, at least a couple of wheelbarrows full.
Dude Three, 80 pounds, enough to last him, if he’s careful, for 20 years.
And, this, as the story goes, is the problem. Dude Three was careful. Too careful. He was afraid.
Dude One somehow doubled his share of talents to 10. Dude Two somehow doubled his share to six talents.
They both received accolades and then even more from The Boss when he returned. Why? Because they risked. They took a chance. They saw their stewardship as more than just hanging on with the TV remote in-hand.
But what happened to Dude Three? When The Boss came back, that dude said, ‘Hey, I know that you’re a pretty shrewd operator. You reap where you haven’t sown and harvest where you haven’t planted. And, you know, I was afraid. So I buried what you gave me. And hey, Boss, check it out, here it is, all safe and sound!’
So what happens next? The Boss gives him holy hell. He calls him a lazy fool, takes the single talent, that is every last coin in that 80 pounds of silver, and gives it to who? To Dude One, who surely already had enough dough and other things added on-top.
It’s something to think about. Because while Jesus told us to take care of each other, this isn’t the sort of story you’d want to share at your local chapter of The Marxist Society.
It also makes you wonder if Jesus didn’t perform on Friday nights at the comedy clubs of Jerusalem. No wonder he was so wildly loved and hated at the same time.
In either case, it all came up recently at the kids’ school, at morning coffee, when a parent was sharing with me a book called Mindset, the New Psychology of Success, by renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. The basic premise is this:
We’re given a lot more talent and abilities than we think. Further, our intelligence and ability to grow our talents further, is much more fluid than first thought.
If we’re humble, if we take a long view of things like our goals and success and life, if we enjoy the journey and don’t fear risk – and, yes, failure – then we’ll be lifelong learners and go far beyond what we might imagine … and, sure, reap the rewards.
This, apparently, is what both science and ancdotal evidence increasingly show.
The new psychology sounds an awful lot like what Jesus said a little while ago now. So, I shared it at school as we drank our morning coffee. And got a few looks. But not any argument.
It’s not a bad thing to tell the kids: ‘You’ve been given more than you realize. Don’t bury it.’ One way to tell them is to simply let Jesus’ funny stories speak for themselves.