The parable of the talents has always been uncomfortable for me. Why would the Savior want us to be predatory lenders? Today as we were talking about this with G's primary class, I found some different ways to tell the story that work for me.
Imagine you're missionaries instead of servants. The mission leader has given 1 companionship 5 contacts. To another, is given 2. To another set, is given just 1 contact. By the next week, the first companionship brings 10 people to church. The next pair have brought 4 people to church. The last pair didn't contact the person they were given. Not even a phone call.
Their name is given to the companionship that was able to bring 10 people to church because they'd done such a great job. The lazy and slothful missionaries are scolded. And they reply that the mission leader was harsh. The mission leader says "You know we're trying to convert the unbelievers. At the least you could have given the name to the Elder's Quorum or Relief Society for them to contact." And they get sent home because if you're not going to even contact 1 person, you're just wasting everyone's time.
Another way to think of the parable is like a basketball game. 1 player is given 5 chances to take a shot, but through his quick play and stealing the ball, he is able to score 10 shots. Another player is similarly passed the ball 2 times and is able to score 4 times with turnovers and hustling. Another player is only passed the ball 1 time. He doesn't make any shot, he instead throws the ball out of bounds. The coach yells at him that he should have passed it to someone else to make the shot.
Brother S at church gave an impromptu story at church in the extra time of Sacrament Meeting. It was a story like "Rudy" where a scrawny kid sticks with the team hoping to someday play. During the last game when the 2 QBs are both injured, he gets a chance. The first 2 plays he looses yards. Then the coach tells him to close his eyes and throw the ball. So he does this and miraculously throws the ball all the way down the field to be caught in the end zone, winning the game.
I'm not a fan of always using sports stories to inspire people, but this story illustrated the opposite of burying your talent. And that helped me to understand the parable of the talents. I'm grateful for this new understanding and hope to be a more profitable servant in the future.