This parable smacks of the sort of dubious financial practices that seem to permeate the business world.
Bribery and corruption commended by those in charge, unethically.
It was something with which his listeners would have experienced;
Practices that should lead to dismissal accepted as common.
A wrong focus.
Possibly Jesus is just having another go at the Pharisees, who, Luke says, love money and material possessions,
or maybe the question that Jesus was asking, is asking, is about our ability to stick to the path;
the way that he has defined so clearly for us.
Yet the parable itself takes a very worldly situation and holds it up for commendation.
"Secular people handle things better" (verse 8) and even goes on to commend that way of working in subsequent verses.
Perhaps Jesus is saying that we should emulate the secular world in our shrewdness, in the way that we approach our lives;
that we should think through our religion, use the brains that we have been given, just as the manager did in the parable.
If you can not be trusted to handle worldly things intelligently who will trust you with spiritual things?
If we haven't thought through what it implies (if we have just accepted what we have been told without question),
we can not be trusted to be vehicles of God's Spirit, with all that implies in terms of power over people and creation.
Perhaps that is why ordination training takes such a long time, allowing time for thought,
or perhaps for wayward thoughts to be met and realligned to an acceptable position.
We are called to serve as Jesus served,
but we are also called to spend our time in the desert
suffering the temptations of earthly and spiritual power.
Maybe, when we emerge, we to shall see that we are called to service and humility and sacrifice, as Jesus was.
The world and our whole being calls us to pride in position, financial security, and the good opinion of others.
It is very hard to have a fan club and not let it go to your head.
to be referred to as reverend and not accept reverence.
It is very hard to lead without dominating, to be looked up to without yourself looking down.
But you can not serve God and position in this world.
We are called to be mono-focused. Radically and sacrificially.
But we are also called to remember the second commandment
To love and value and care for our neighbour.
Being the hands and feet of God for them;
Instruments of God's distributive justice.