Writing on growth, we hear from Kyle Earlywine (Colorado Vincentian Volunteers ’15). Kyle is a Colorado native and DU grad. He served on the Basic Services team at St. Francis Center during CVV and is currently living on the west coast where he and his dad are co-running a growing business.
My year with Colorado Vincentian Volunteers was the most formative year of my life. I went into CVV as someone who did not have a desire to serve the poor and emerged with not only a desire but a clear path forward to do that service. It was my beginning as a companion on the journey – a motto turned mantra that has steered my life as a follower of Jesus.
Recently my journey has begun to pick up speed. Within days of leaving CVV, I started a business with my dad and years later we began to see the growth in our business we had always hoped for. This experience with growth has not just changed how I view my professional life but also how I view my journey as a companion.
Since the start of that growth, there has been one story from the Bible that has been in my thoughts almost daily: the parable of the talents (Mathew 25:14-30). In the parable, a master gives talents (a form of currency in those times) to three servants, then goes away. While the master is gone, one servant does nothing but the other two servants use (invest) the talents given them to make more talents. They go on to grow the master’s investment to double the original amount.
The two servants who multiply their investments (one goes from 5 to 10 and the other from 2 to 4) are rewarded. How are they rewarded? The master tells them, “I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” They are put in charge of many things. The servants are rewarded with more responsibility. In a similar parable told in Luke (chapter 19), ten servants of a soon to be king are given one mina each to invest with. As with the talents, one servant does nothing and the others get a positive return on their investments. The good servants are rewarded with, oddly enough, cities. These cities, I presume, are not given to the servants to play in or build personal palaces. The cities are given to be managed. They are responsibilities or in other words, work. Jesus seems to be telling us the reward for work is… even more work. This is hardly the most enticing reward, or is it?
For those of us with full time jobs, kids to take care of, church groups, taxes to pay, and a variety of stress in our lives, who would view responsibility as a reward? My belief – work for the Lord is indeed work, but there is nothing more rewarding. The master in the parable said, “Come and share your master’s happiness.” Caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, serving the poor, all these things make the Master happy and for the most part, these works make us happy too. Is it at all odd that when we describe how we feel after serving others we often use the word “rewarding”?
Let me go back to the point about growth. With the work I do for my business, growth is one of the most exciting things I experience. With the work I do for God, growth is also one of the most exciting things I experience. I believe that as I do work for my Master, He sees it and grants me greater responsibilities or in other words, growth. In the parable of the talents, one of the final statements made by the master is, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given.” God allows us to reinvest the talents we gain in our service to do bigger and better things. These talents come in the form of more skills, more resources, more knowledge, and more passion to do work for God. I believe it is a natural yet also super-natural, spiritual growth that enables us to take on the greater responsibilities we are given.
When I was a CVV volunteer, I was asked to look at the injustices and suffering present in the world. This was done to create in me a desire to work against those injustices. As a young man freshly out of college, what was there that I could have done to end suffering on such a massive scale? Very little. Yet, I believe, God gave me something. He set me out with “companions on the journey.” Journeys are taken step by step, preferably forward, with help, and with sights set on the mission of being Christ’s body.
Whether work for God is measured in mouths fed, people housed, children taught, or new believers, I want my contribution to what God is doing to be greater this year than last year. I want it to be even greater next year, and greater the year after. While I am not yet responsible for much of what God is doing, I am shown through the Bible that my faithful investment of the “talents” I have been given will lead to greater opportunities to serve. I am excited for the growth I see in myself and also my fellow companions. In our service to the poor we are, have been, and will be (even more!) sharing the “master’s happiness.”