abilities, opportunities, responsibility

For those of us who have read the parables often, this promised to be a familiar story.  The pastor took us to Luke 19, a story about a successful businessman who gives several employees small stock portfolios to manage while he goes on an extended trip. When he returns he asks each about their return on investment. One earned 1000% return. One earned 500%. And one wrapped the money in a cloth for fear of failing.

“We all have abilities,” the pastor said, pointing out that each person in this part of the story was given something.

“Our abilities create opportunities,” the pastor said, pointing out that having the money gave the employees an opportunity to do what they otherwise couldn’t do.

“Opportunity comes with responsibility,” the pastor said. And stopped. Because near the front of the room, a woman gasped and fainted. It was a blood-sugar issue, and things were fine. Later. At the moment, however, there was sudden stillness in the room of 500 people.

And then people began to move. The three nurses sitting within 10 chairs. The three doctors sitting within 10 rows. The EMT, the security staff, the closest friends.

As if it was a scripted sermon illustration, the rest of us watched what happens when those who have developed their abilities to care for people in health crises were given the opportunity and acted responsibly.  At that moment, it was clear that the most significant spiritual action in the room wasn’t the preaching. At that moment it was the caring. And some of us, trained for different kinds of crises, gifted with different skills, stayed out of the way.

My friend, one of the doctors, said that that phrase echoed in his head after he sat down. “Opportunity comes with responsibility.”

It’s been echoing in my heart all week.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.