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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

LIII THE AVERAGE MAN

Matthew xxv.22.

In the parable of the talents the man that gets least general attention is the man that stands in the middle. The five-talent man gets distinction, and the one-talent man gets rebuke, but the two-talent man, the man with ordinary gifts and ordinary returns from them, seems to be an unexciting character. And yet this is the man of the majority, the average man, the man most like ourselves, -- not very bad, and not very remarkable. As has been said: |God must have a special fondness for average people, for He has made so many of them.| Now, the average man stands in special need of encouragement. One of the most serious moments of life is when a man discovers that he is this sort of man. It comes over most of us some day that we are not going {132} to do anything extraordinary; that we are never likely to shine; that we are simply people of the crowd. Nothing seems to take the ambition and enthusiasm out of one more than this recognition of oneself as an average man. Then comes Jesus with his word of courage. |Your work,| he says, |is just as significant, and rewarded with precisely the same commendation as the work of the five-talent man.| The same |Well done| is spoken to both, and it may be that the more heroic qualities are in the man with fewer gifts. To make great gifts effective may be easy, but to take common gifts and make them yield their best returns -- that is what helps us all. There is not a more inspiring sight in life than to see a man start with ordinary capacity and to see his power grow out of his consecration. Looking back on life from middle age, that would be the story one would tell of many a success. One sees five-talent men fail and two-talent men take their place; average gifts persistently used yielding rich returns, and the promise of usefulness lying, not in abundant endowments of nature, but in the using to the utmost what moderate capacities one has soberly accepted as trusts from God.

Read also, on this and the following subject, the kindling sermons of Phillips Brooks: |The Man with Two Talents,| vol. iv. p.192; |The Man with One Talent,| vol. i. p.138.

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