Investment, as defined by God
One thing that always bothered me about the "Parable of the Talents" stems from the fact that I think of "investment" in the modern-day context of "put some money into the stock market and hope it doesn't disappear." In that sense, the servant who buried his money seems pretty reasonable -- he took a conservative but prudent step and made sure that none of his master's principal was lost.
It was Joel Osteen, of all people, who gave a message that altered my perspective. He described "talents" (the 2000-year-old monetary word) in the context of our skills or "talents" that God has given us and expects us to use.
In that sense, the master in Jesus' account was exactly right: the only way to waste/abuse/lose a talent is to not put it to use.
For me, that's a much more liberating view than to see God as someone who expects you to metaphorically "play the stock market" and come out ahead, punishing you if you have bad luck and lose some of His investment.