More about the Christian life

Managing the Kingdom

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
     “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
     “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
     “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
     “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
     “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
     “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
     “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
     “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
     “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
     “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
     “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
—Luke 19:11-27, NIV

Suppose you own a chain of ten retail stores. One day, you have to go on a long business trip to receive the distributorship for a major line of products. So you put the ten store managers in complete charge of your stores, telling them that you will settle accounts with them when you return. Finally, you return with the distributorship and call your managers into your head office.

One manager comes to you and says, “My advertising campaign was very effective: I expanded my store hours, I advertised in the newspaper and on television, and I was very careful to keep the store well stocked. I tripled sales this last quarter.”

You would say, “That is fine work. Now that I have this new distributorship, I’ll make you regional manager for the southeast!”

Then the second manager would come to you and say, “It took me a while to get the hang of keeping the store well stocked, but I remodeled the interior and increased sales. My sales doubled for the quarter.”

You would say, “That is fine work! I’ll make place you in charge of corporate real estate.”

Then the third manager comes and says, “I know you are a tough businessman, so I sold my store and all its stock and put the money in a safe deposit box. It’s all intact—here’s the key!”

You would explode with anger, “You worthless manager! Why didn’t you run the business, as you were instructed? The least you could have done was to put the money in a savings account, rather than a safe deposit box: then at least you would have produced some interest!” And you make him a janitor in the warehouse.

For you see, to the manager who has shown the most business sense you give the most responsibility. To the manager who produces nothing, you assign the most menial tasks. The worthless manager isn’t fired: you might say that he’s still saved, but as one from a fire, losing all his possessions.

This is the parable of the minas. The parable deals with a nobleman who departs to made king, just as Jesus departed on Ascension Day and was made King. On his return, the nobleman not only settles accounts with his slaves, he also destroys his enemies. In the same way, when Jesus returns, he will not only decide who goes to heaven, he will also settle accounts with us, His servants, to determine what places we receive once we get there. Whoever obeys His commandments and causes His Kingdom to increase will be given much. Whoever buries his Christianity in the ground to protect it from ‘innovators’ and ‘heretics’ will find only reproof.

Christianity is not a tradition to be maintained or an heirloom to be protected: it is a tool that must be used, an agenda that must be done, and a business that must be run in such a way that it grows.

If you were one of the managers in the parable, how would you describe the way you’re running your store? If things aren’t going well, you might want to work out a business plan…