Parable of talents
If necessary introduce the idea of parables, explaining that they are stories with a meaning. They often use characters that stand for someone or something else. So when the children listen to today’s story, they should be asking themselves: what does it mean, and what might it be saying to me?
14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand pounds, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.
19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’
Ask the children if they have a particular talent. Tell them that they should all have their hands up! List the talents that children have and discuss them.
Explain that we are all special individuals with individual talents, and it is what we do with our talents that is important.
- ‘We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out.’ (Decca Recording company, rejecting The Beatles in 1962. Pye, Columbia and HMV also rejected them. Oops..)
- ‘You will never amount to very much.’ (Munich schoolmaster to Albert Einstein aged 10)
Robert the Bruce
The Scottish were taking an absolute beating from the English at the Battle of Banackburn. Robert the Bruce (the leader of the Scots) watched a spider trying to climb up a wall. It kept falling off the wall until the fourth attempt when it succeeded. This inspired Robert not to give up and the Scots went on to beat the English in the battle
Thomas Edison only attended school for 3 months. He was declared backward by his head teacher and was withdrawn from school by his annoyed mother. At the age of 12 he earned money selling newspapers on a train and soon began printing his own paper in the guard’s van, until his chemicals managed to set the whole train alight! Somehow, Edison managed to keep his job and at 15 became a telegraph operator, although not a very good one!
However, he made up for his failings by inventing the ticker tape machine which put him out of his own job! This was the first of over a thousand inventions that included the record player, the light bulb and the first cine camera! At age 65 he saw his life’s work burned up – what was his attitude? Oh well, there go all my mistakes, now we can start again! Of his success, he said that genius was one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration!
We often feel like giving up but often it’s at these times that we need to keep going. Someone has said that 99 per cent of people aren’t defeated, they simply quit too early. McDonalds has a logo saying there are many unsuccessful people in the world with good ideas. What more did they need? Perseverance – not giving up. To make sure we are all that we can be, we need determination
Paper, Rock, Scissors
Ask the children, who knows the game of rock, paper, scissors? Get two of them to demonstrate this. For those who don’t know the game, explain that each player starts with one hand behind their back. On the count of 3, each player brings their hand out to show either a clenched fist to represent the rock, a flat hand to represent paper, or two fingers moving in scissor-like motion.
The winner is the one whose material defeats the other’s: rock blunts the scissors and wins, paper wraps around the rock and wins, or the scissors cut the paper and win.
Show the materials – rock, paper, scissors. Point out that no one material is better than another, but each is used in a different way for a variety of purposes. We need them all. Ask the children for examples.
Suggest that human beings are like this – we’re not all the same, but all of us are vital for the good of the whole.
A famous English poet, John Donne, who lived way back in the 1600s, recognized this when he wrote: ‘No man [or person] is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main …’ He knew that people needed each other and could not exist without others.
Even longer ago– about 2,000 years ago – Paul, a great follower of Jesus, wrote a letter to the Christians in Corinth, a city in Greece, explaining the very same thing using the example of the human body.
Suppose the foot says, ‘I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.’ The hand is still part of the body.
And suppose the ear says, ‘I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.’ The eye is still part of the body.
The eye can’t say to the ear, ‘I don’t need you!’
The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’
If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? God has placed each part of the body just as he wanted it to be. There are many parts, but there is only one body.
So all of us have a part to play – whatever we look like, wherever we come from, whatever we are good at. We use what we’ve got not just to help ourselves but to contribute to the good of others, at home, at school or in our town, even in the world.
Possibly mention Acts of Kindness.
Time for reflection
We can’t all be leaders.
We can’t all be good at football, running, swimming or other sports.
We’re not all great artists or guitarists.
We don’t look the same or necessarily enjoy the same activities.
Some of us have freckles, some of us are left-handed, some wear glasses, some of us are quiet, some are noisy, some of us like to be with lots of people, others prefer to spend time alone or with just one or two friends.
But we all need each other to help one another where we have particular abilities.
Thank you for making each one of us different.
We ask that we may know how to use what we have to help others.
Today’s assembly was in a local junior school on the theme of talents: