A reward is a recompense for worthy acts or retribution for wrongdoing (WordNet). Therefore, a reward could be positive or negative. The two parties to a reward are: the giver and the receiver. The giver clearly wields more influence because he usually determines the terms and conditions of the task to be executed by the receiver.
It’s important for the receiver to acquaint himself with the terms and conditions of the task if he is to diligently perform it and receive his reward. On the job, for instance, the giver is the employer and the receiver is the employee. For an employee to receive the full reward that goes with the job, he must understand his obligations under the terms of the job and execute the job with precision.
When an employee keeps to the terms of his job, he experiences peace because he knows he’s doing what’s expected of him. He is also happy because he anticipates the reward that is due to him.
What applies to employees on the job applies to human beings here on earth. We’ve been entrusted with the life we live for a purpose. It behooves us therefore to discover our life’s purpose and fulfill it. When we live for the purpose God ordained for us, as reflected in the gifts and abilities He endowed us with, we would have peace. We’d also have a joyous expectation of a reward when we meet Him.
Let’s now consider the critical steps to take to ensure we get our expected reward.
Discover your gift
The first step is to know what your gifts are. Your gifts are the resources the Creator has given you to accomplish the task He has assigned to you. When you don’t know what you’re gifted at, you will very likely engage in tasks you have no business doing.
The importance of discovering your gift is best put by Zig Ziglar. He said, “You’re the only one on earth who can use your ability.” That’s definitely a huge responsibility which only you discharge.
Develop your gift
Once you know your gift, you should develop it. Performing optimally on the task assigned to you is not automatic. You’ve got to develop your gifts and abilities through study and practice. The best way to put the development of your gift is that you should strive for perfection. Aiming at perfection is worthwhile because of the reward. Jesus gave an indication of the reward awaiting those that diligently use their gifts when He said, “In my Father’s House, there are many mansions…” Can you imagine what the mansion whose architect is God would look like? Over and above the mansion reward, it’s said to be a place where there will be no pains or sorrows!
Diligently use your gift
Having developed your gift, you should now diligently use it. The use of your gift calls for diligence because putting it to use will not always be convenient. For your reward, you must endeavour to use your gift in and out of season; when you feel like and when you don’t feel like.
Attributes of a rewarding life
- Happiness: This is the enjoyment of what you do and the output there from. When you see someone who’s always griping about everything – job, spouse, money, economy, government, church, weather – you need no further introduction to someone whose life is unrewarding.
- Peace and Joy: Deep satisfaction with your life even when situations seem adverse.
- Generosity: The best indication of a rewarding life is giving. This has nothing to do with wealth; some of the greatest givers are usually not the richest. The story of the woman that gave two pennies who Jesus adjudged as having given the best is a case in point. More importantly, giving is not just about money. It includes time, skills and abilities.
Enemies of a rewarding life
Ignorance remains an age-long foe of most human beings. In spite of the huge amount of information freely available, it’s a pity that a vast number of people still don’t have the requisite knowledge to do what’s expected of them. God is obviously aware of this challenge when He said His people perish because of lack of knowledge (Hosea 4: 6). If you don’t know your gifts or abilities, you will very likely miss out on your reward.
Someone said that success at anything you do is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. When you know what to do, you’ve got to do what you know. Jim Rohn said: “Ideas without labour are stillborn. They never produce anything tangible.” If you know what to do and you’re not doing it, you’re lazy!
- Unhealthy rivalry
One of the key requirements for a rewarding life is focus. A friend of mine said, “There’s a bonus you get when each time God comes and He finds you at your duty post.” Being at your duty post would require focus. When you engage in unhealthy competition with other people, you risk losing this all-important quality – focus.
With loss of focus comes loss of reward. Jesus said, “No man who sets his hands upon the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom.” Looking back is tantamount to loss of focus. When you lose focus, you miss the ultimate reward – God’s Kingdom.
You must avoid greed because it has distracting tendencies just like engaging in unhealthy rivalry.
Applicable lessons from the story of the Parable of the Talents
The applicability of the Parable of the Talents to many life situations is simply mindboggling. It covers varying aspects of human life like gifts, abilities, productivity, performance, rewards, etc. Sometime ago, I listened to a speaker, a stockbroker, use the Parable to illustrate the importance of diversification in investment portfolio management!
For the benefit of those who aren’t conversant with the story, it was about a master who before going on a journey gave talents to his three servants. To one of the servants, he gave five talents, to another he gave two talents and to the third servant he gave one talent. After the master’s departure, the servant that was given five talents traded with his talents and gained five additional talents; the second one traded with his two talents and gained two additional talents. However, the third servant did nothing with his talent; instead he hid his talent.
When the master came back, he asked the servants to give account of what they did with the talents he gave them in his absence. The first servant told the master that he traded with his talent and gained five more talents. The second servant said he traded with his talents and gained two more talents. The last servant gave various excuses for refusing to put his talent to use.
Expectedly, the master rewarded the productive servants with life of everlasting joy to be spent with Him whereas He banished the unproductive servant to a place of eternal damnation.
I consider the servant that was given two talents a role model. The reasons are:
- He had every reason to act like the servant that was given one talent but he refused to. For instance, he could have been envious of his colleague that got five talents, which I believe was the problem the servant with one talent had. Had he been envious, chances are that he wouldn’t have used his talents and if he did at all, he wouldn’t have put in his best.
- This servant understood that it isn’t the amount that counts but what he did with the amount he was given. With this understanding, he was able to generate the same return on investment (100%) just like the servant with five talents. No wonder he got the same reward.
For you to enjoy your life here on earth and when you die, you should imbibe the philosophy of the servant that got two talents. It is a fact that there will always be people that have more resources than you. When you understand that the deal is in what you do with what you’re given, you’ll never lack motivation for life and living.