5 Powerful Life Lessons From a Parable

There’s a fascinating parable in the Bible which I never used to pay much attention to. It tells the story of 10 virgins who were invited to a wedding. It appears that their role was to welcome the bridegroom and probably use their lamps to light up the pathway.

The bridegroom did not arrive when he was expected. The delay was so long that the young ladies ran out of oil for their lamps. Five of them had brought extra oil with them and refilled their lamps. The other five, who only had the oil in their lamps and no extra, turned to their companions to ask for some.

“Give us some of your oil,” they begged.

“Go and buy your own,” was the response they received.

At midnight the bridegroom arrived. The five virgins who had extra oil for their lamps trimmed them and rose to welcome him. The other five had to go and buy more oil and missed the whole celebration!

There are five great life lessons in this parable.

1. Always Be Prepared

We all know that opportunity knocks at least once in every person’s life. The problem is that no-one knows when that will happen.

Sometimes people fail to recognise opportunity because it usually shows up in the form of a problem that needs solving or work to be done. If you’re not on the lookout for it, you could easily miss it.

Helpful Actions You Can Take

  • Keep your skills up to date.
  • Look out for opportunities.
  • Network with others in your circle or field. They may know things you have overlooked and could share their knowledge with you.
  • When opportunity knocks make sure you’re prepared.

2. Have a Contingency Plan

You may have big dreams for yourself which you are working towards. This could be:

  • Starting a business.
  • Getting married.
  • Starting a family.
  • Buying a house.
  • Buying a car.

While working towards your dreams you may encounter obstacles or experience delays. It doesn’t mean you should give up, you may just need to take a different route to the one you had originally planned.

Helpful Actions You Can Take

  • Explore alternative options for reaching your goals.
  • Scale down if necessary.
  • Seek help or advice from those who have succeeded in doing what you are trying to accomplish.

3. Be Patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some things take time. You may see other people succeeding but you don’t know the whole story. You might be coming in at the end of the movie, just at the point when their happy ending begins.

Also remember that great things take time to build. Some people are only in the game for a short while. Recognise where you are at and be patient.

Helpful Actions You Can Take

  • Be patient by taking it one day at a time.
  • Keep your eyes on the goal.
  • Set yourself a reward you can look forward to if you manage to wait it out.

4. Don’t reveal all you know

The five wise virgins never disclosed the fact that they had extra oil. It makes you wonder if perhaps they also knew that the bridegroom would be delayed – perhaps from previous experiences.

Either way, they did not jeopardise their resources by disclosing how much oil they had.

Helpful Actions You Can Take

  • Practice discretion.
  • Don’t publicise your goals.
  • Don’t announce your moves before you make them.

5. Recognise the Difference Between Helping and Carrying Dead Weight

The Free Dictionary defines dead weight as:

A burden that holds someone or something else back or prevents progress; someone or something that when handled or associated with conveys only difficulty and not benefit.

Source: The Free Dictionary

“Give us some of your oil,” the five foolish virgins pleaded.

“No, you can go and buy your own,” the five wise virgins replied.

They recognised that by sharing their oil they were risking losing the opportunity of a lifetime. A moment they had prepared for and had been looking forward to.

People will call you out for being selfish if you refuse to help them. However, the person you need to help first is yourself. You can’t help anybody else if you’re not in a good place. Learn to recognise people who aren’t bothered with helping themselves and are forever relying on other people.

Helpful Actions You Can Take

  • Set healthy boundaries in your life and relationships.
  • Enforce boundaries whenever anyone tries to violate them.
  • Be true to your goals, vision or mission.

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