How to Invest Your Life

Rev. Henri Schauffler

November 28, 1999
Washington DC Family Church

Bible Reading
Matthew 25:14-30

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. `Master,' he said, `you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' "His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' "The man with the two talents also came. `Master,' he said, `you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' "His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. `Master,' he said, `I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' "His master replied, `You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. "`Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"

We all want to be good people, don't we? Isn't that a goal everybody has? I hope so. And we'd like to be rewarded, like the good and faithful servant, wouldn't we also? I imagine so. Most of us have heard this beautiful parable before, but there's deep symbolism here. The master rewards the servant who invests his talent for a larger purpose, for the master. But the servant who buries the talent because he's afraid to lose it is punished.

A basic understanding of the larger purpose that Jesus is talking about can be found in the Great Commandment, Matthew 22:35-40, where Jesus simply said, love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul, and love your neighbor as you would yourself be loved. Also in Genesis 1:28 God blesses mankind, his first son and daughter, Adam and Eve. He says, be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the earth. In other words, develop ourselves. Develop the way in which we can serve God and serve others. Living for the sake of others is not just an attitude or a feeling. Living for the sake of others involves acting, doing things to help others, to help them improve their lives, to help them find joy and love for themselves. Loving people is more properly seen as a verb than just a noun. To love is really the important thing to remember.

In Jesus' time, as most of you know, a talent was actually a measurement of money. It was actually around $1,000. But there is considerable symbolism there, as you might imagine. Talent, I believe, symbolizes all of our abilities, our education, our profession, our creativity, our community activities and reputation, our personal wealth. Everything that we are and have individually. I don't mean talent in terms of creative talents. Talent actually is just a translation for that monetary measure. But it symbolizes everything that we are and have.

Now if we invest all of our abilities and everything we are and have for the sake of others, then we will be rewarded by God. But if we are afraid to invest them, if we hide them, as the fearful servant did, we will be punished. What would this mean, being rewarded or punished in the symbolic sense? Well, what we all seek in life is joy, love, fulfillment. That's actually the reward that God gives us when we invest ourselves for the sake of others. But if we are afraid, if we somehow think we are going to lose something when we invest ourselves for others, what happens? By the nature of God's love we find ourselves in loneliness, sadness, unfulfillment.

It's a hidden truth that the world should soon learn that when someone feels lonely or sad or unhappy, the best way to overcome that is to go and serve or love another person. Isn't that true?

How does this apply to our lives? Many of us have abilities, creative gifts and skills. Our congregation is made up of a number of well-trained and professional people. If we use them to benefit others, we will be blessed. But if we are afraid we might lose something, if we hide our abilities, if we use them just for our own gain, for our own family, we will end up unfulfilled. I'm sorry to say many of us, and I'm certainly among us, have been like that fearful servant, haven't we? We're afraid to invest our abilities to help others because we somehow think we're going to lose something if we give. Somehow we might think we're being selfish, just by doing something for someone else because we seek gain. Our mind gets all twisted and confused.

I'll give you a few examples from my own life. Before I went into missionary work and the ministry, I was a guitarist, a musician, and I played in bands. It might shock you, but rock and roll bands. I was intimately involved with music, day and night. But when I went to a life of service for God, somehow I came to believe that I should give that up, and I put my guitar in the closet and haven't played a whole lot since.

Later I realized I could have brought so much joy into my home, into my church if I had kept up improving that talent. I have a friend who didn't go back to school to get a degree because he thought it would only serve his own interests if he became more educated. But I realized he could do so much more for other people, for God's will if he was better educated. For years I believed that a spiritual person should not pursue wealth. I came out of the 60s, when we had that kind of socialist, Marxist thinking that made us believe that rich people were selfish and evil and they were getting all their wealth off the backs of the humble poor. Well, I was into that. I believed that.

When I began a life of service for God, it became even more impressed on my mind, somehow I felt there should be some vow to poverty to be a holy person. Now I know there are people in this room who have been there with that thinking. Maybe some of us are still today. Sometimes we break through and sincerely invest something to help others. We always receive as much or more benefit than those we help. Isn't that actually the truth? This is God's law. Jesus told us, the measure you give is the measure you will receive.

Often conscientious, God-loving people feel that it would be selfish to spend time or money developing themselves, but this is a terrible misconception. We're holding ourselves back from being more able to help others. We're exactly like that fearful servant who hid his talents because he was afraid he would lose them.

Let me share a few examples of truly saintly people who used their talents and abilities to live for others. There's a doctor friend of mine who makes a great deal of money as an MD, but she's still very unfulfilled. She ended up volunteering many, many hours in a free clinic, and she told me afterwards that she found so much joy and self-satisfaction.

Andrew Carnegie was the Bill Gates of his time, in the first half of this century. Many people don't know that he gave almost all of his wealth away at the end of his life and lived in a small room with a light bulb hanging down. But he wrote, "I am peaceful," because he had invested everything he had for the sake of others.

Then there are those like Dr. Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa. They had so much talent and ability. Surely those people could have used those abilities to build up their own lives, but they gave everything for the sake of others.

In my own life I had a very interesting experience in recent years in the financial area. A number of years ago I moved to my hometown of Portland, Oregon, and that move caused us to be in some considerable financial debt. The natural thought at that time is, reel in the purse strings, particularly when it comes to giving to one's church. It seems a natural thing to try and cut that, because, well, you know, when we get out of debt then we can give more.

My wife, who is indeed a much holier person than I, refused to accept that point of view. And so even when we were greatly in debt, she insisted that we tithe 10 percent to our church. On top of that, as with many churches there were many other requests. There was a building fund. There were special projects of our congregation and of our national church. We tried to give to each one in the best way we could.

In the beginning I was very fearful, just like that servant, but my wife's faith kept me going. You know what? Over that period God blessed us with more income than we've ever had in our lives. We actually even became somewhat prosperous for the first time in our lives, and I'm certain it was because she guided us, even in a difficult circumstance, to keep that principle of giving to others first. We kept up that 10 percent and do to this day.

Money is one area where we often get fooled. If our motivation is to make more money to give more money, God will bless our efforts, don't you think? But if we're worried because we're in debt, and how will we pay the next bill, we don't have enough money, how will we cover our children's education? Actually it's hard for God to bless that kind of heart and mind.

I've determined that God wants me to be rich. That might be a bit shocking to some of you, because I know some of us still have that poor, humble servant thinking. But why would God want me to be wealthy? So I can give more and do more for God's will. So please remember, God wants us to invest our talents, not hide them, like the fearful servants. It's God's plan that we become successful and prosperous in as many ways as possible in order to better serve His will. It's our responsibility, in fact, to develop ourselves to the best of our abilities.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of our church, is a person who has shown me that example more than anyone I know. He said once, I learned a little bit about almost everything. That way, I can act in every area.

Years ago I was with Rev. Moon and a number of individuals traveling around, looking for properties for the use of our church in New England. When we went through that building, he was opening doors, scraping paint, looking at wiring, checking plumbing. I was amazed. The real estate lady was really amazed. Who is this Asian minister? How come he knows all these things? I'm sure she expected he'd have a bunch of experts with toolboxes. Here's a religious leader who learned a little bit about everything so he could be more effective.

I've never known anyone more effective and more knowledgeable in so many ways than Rev. Moon, and he is a religious leader respected by millions all over the world. To me that's a model of the way I'd like to be.

Let me conclude our short message this morning with a little outline of eight ways that I believe we can invest in ourselves so that we can invest our lives.

Brothers and sisters, God needs us to be the best we can be. Let's overcome our fears to become better people and take responsibility to invest in our lives to better serve God and serve our fellow man. To punctuate our message this morning, I invited a dear friend of mine, Mr. Frank Grow, to share a few minutes about some experiences that he's had in his life related to developing himself and the confused emotions that sometimes hold us back.

Mr. Frank Grow: Good morning. Henry asked me to share some of my experiences. Just like most of us in this room, for the first part of my adult life I invested all of my talents, 100 percent, into whatever mission came down the road, whether it was music or CARP or ACC or whatever. A lot of times I have to admit that sometimes I felt like I was blocked once in a while in my professional development because the mission kind of superceded any chance I had to make a mark as a professional.

When the time came for home church I thought it was a God-given answer. I was able to go out and for the first time try to make it on my own. I became a financial planner, and at the beginning it was tough. You have to go back to school, you have to take all these tests. As you get older, your mind doesn't remember as easily as when you were younger, so to pass all the tests given by the government in order to be able to sell securities and stocks and bonds was a challenge. But it was exciting, it was fun.

Then to be challenged with providing income for your family, where a large part of the income was commission-based was another challenge that I think a lot of us are trying to deal with even right now. But again, I was lucky. God gave me good fortune. A good friend of mine took me under his wing and we started doing seminars. He had a successful business for many years, so I started really getting into this secular world, telling people how to invest their money. It was fulfilling and fun in one sense, but in another sense I felt, well, now that I'm here there's something else missing that's more fundamental.

I had an epiphany of sorts. My area was Fairfield, Connecticut, which is a very nice area, very wealthy. My client was the wife of an airline pilot whose airline had a famous crash quite a few years ago. She was placing her assets and had retained me to help her manage her estate. I had one of those out-of-body experiences that we get once in while. I'm sitting here in this nice office with this very nice lady, telling her how to invest her money and we're all going to be happy and wealthy, but there's something missing. Is this what I spent over 20 years of my life doing, helping this lady be happy?

At that point I realized, no, I had gone too far the other way. I realized there was still something even more critical to my life and happiness than professional accomplishment. At that point I decided I would take a test and see if I was really committed. I sent my resume out into the networks of our church to see if there was any place God needed me to be, and there was. I got called and now I'm back in a front line mission again. But I have that experience behind me. I feel much better now because in a sense the talents that I was able to develop, actually God gave them to me. I want to use them for that.

That's my testimony. I hope it keeps going as well as it has been thanks to God and all of you and our True Parents.

Rev. Schauffler: Thank you. For those of you who don't know him, Mr. Grow is a man of many, many talents.

In conclusion, this is a suggestion. This is the kind of sermon where action is indicated. My request is that you select, right now, from this list one of the eight that you feel you'd like to take action on and do something with. As we pray to conclude, ask for God's help and guidance in how you will go about that. Let us pray.