Growing or Shrinking by Mary Hanks

Send to Kindle

Mary Hanks

Recently, while speaking in a high school chapel, I asked the students to act out a modern story of the Parable of the Talents . . .

Michael, a local entrepreneur, gave a large amount of money to three employees. He handed Fred five million dollars, Susie, two million, and Derek, one million. “I’m going abroad,” he told the trio. “When I come back, I expect big returns on my investments.”

Fred bought property by the lake and built a gorgeous house. As soon as it was finished, he sold it and bought another piece of land. Susie purchased several baristas and established her own brand of coffee. But Derek moaned. “Why did Michael give me money? Is it a trick? I know what I’ll do—I’ll hide the money under my bed where it’s safe.”

Time passed and when Michael returned, he was thrilled with Fred’s projects. He praised Susie for her, now, national product. But Derek wouldn’t look him in the eye.

Sweat trickled down his employee’s forehead. “I’m not good with money, so I hid it under my b-bed.”

“What? You’re fired!” Michael yelled. “You’ll never work for me again.”

This sad, but thought provoking story stirs up questions. What about me? Have I increased the gifts God placed in my life? Are my talents growing or shrinking? What dreams have I hidden in a box?

As a director for Youth Theater, I love sharing this verse with my actors: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in it various forms.” (I Peter 4:10) I want the actors to realize God has given them the desire and ability to act. It’s a gift, and they can grow it by practicing and using their talents whenever possible. When they step onstage, they’re sharing those gifts with a waiting audience—encouraging, building up, inspiring. And, ultimately, they’re pleasing the Lord.

I want that to be true in my life also. When I was small, I was a huge pretender, and everywhere I went, I would imagine a world of what-ifs. When I was thirteen, my mom gave me a typewriter for Christmas, and right away, I started writing a book and dreaming of possibilities. By age fifteen, I was writing skits for youth services. Then I jumped into writing Christmas plays. For a while, I toyed with writing books, but it would be years before I wrote full-stage productions and published my stories.

When I was speaking in chapel that day, I held up my recently published book, Stage Wars, so I could show the students the dream that began so long ago had come to fulfillment. I wanted them to know their dreams to use their talents for the Lord could be fulfilled too. But each of us must grow the God-given talent we have within us—and keep it growing.

Do you have a gift in music? Are you sharing it every chance you get? Do you feel the call to teach or preach? Are you saying “Yes” to every request? Are you writing every day and looking for ways to share your gift?

We should look at the year ahead and make some strong declarations: “I’m going to use my gifts and talents for God’s glory! I’m going to walk through every door He opens.” With the right attitude in our hearts, we’ll work at growing our gifts for the glory of God. And one of these days, we’ll hear Him say, “Well done. Now, let me show you the amazing place I’ve built for you . . .”

Mary E Hanks is the author of two books: Winter’s Past, a Christian romance about 2nd chances, and Stage Wars, a middle-school adventure. She’s also a playwright and is currently directing her 25th Youth Theater production. She and Jason have been married for 38 years, raised four children, and live in the country near Blanchard, Idaho.

Stage WarsWinters Past

Share Button
Leave a comment


  1. In our Sunday School class yesterday we each shared a parable that we had placed in the modern day context (this had been our homework from the week before). So when I read your message today, I smiled and said, “Oh, yes, these parables still fit!” Your story is a great connection and such a wonderful reminder that God has blessed us with many gifts, but He expects us to use those gifts in service to Him and as a witness for Jesus. Thanks for this wonderful reminder. Blessings!

    • Katherine,
      Thank you for sharing this! I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner. I love that your class did the modern parables. What a great way to help us live in those stories and experience the true meanings. Blessings to you…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *