Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Neglect Not the Gift!

Neglect not the gift that is in thee."
1 Timothy 4:14

Recently, I led a Relief Society discussion at church on the subject of talents. I opened that discussion by sharing my experiences teaching an exceptional group of adolescent girls several years ago. A phrase I heard far too often from these young women, in response to the concept of God-given gifts, was this: “I don’t have any.” Time and time again, these lovely and accomplished young women insisted that they had no special talents at all…or at least, none worth mentioning. “How can that be?” I would challenge. If God is no respecter of persons, if Father in Heaven loves each of us equally, then why would He favor one child over another, especially when it comes to the gifts and attributes that make us who we are...and make possible the person we can become? The Lord uses our talents to bless us and to bless others, and He promises that “there are many gifts, and to every man [and woman] is given a gift by the Spirit of God” (D&C 46:11).

In other words, God does not play favorites. Some gifts are more visible than others, but that doesn't mean they are more valuable. Neither does it mean we have less obligation to use them.

Talents are meant to be shared, which is why the Lord spreads them around a bit. They’re also intended to be developed. (No-brainer, right?) But there is one catch: In order to share talents…in order to develop them…we must first be able to see them. In ourselves. And if we can’t or won’t see them, we need to believe the Lord when He tells us they are there and resolve to find them.

How do we do this? First, we open our minds. Then we make a comprehensive list of things we like to do, including every dimension of our lives—spiritual, musical, dramatic, academic, athletic, and so on. Consulting family members, trusted friends, teachers, religious leaders, etc. is an excellent way to gather information, because others see in us what we might overlook in ourselves. (Of course, we have to be willing to listen to what they say!) We can also listen to what the Lord has to say, seeking additional insight through prayer.

One thing is certain. We need to make it our business to know what our talents are, because if we can’t name 'em, we can’t claim 'em. And if we can’t claim 'em, we can’t develop, share, or consecrate them to the Lord. Every gift we’ve been given, whether we are magnifying it or not, is a sacred responsibility, and God has expectations about what we do with it.

God-given talents should be acknowledged, like good friends, and introduced to others. It wasn’t until about 15 years ago that I began to understand that it wasn't prideful to "own up" to a talent...because if you couldn't own up to it, you couldn't own it, either. (And by “own” I mean take responsibility for…be a good steward over.) Remember the parable of the talents in the New Testament? The talent that was carefully placed underground (to languish there, unused) was taken away and given to someone willing to give it life and make the most of it.

Of course, in order to give a talent life, we must be courageous enough to embrace the risk inherent in admitting that it’s there in the first place. After all, if we never admit it exists, then we don't have to experience the growing pains of developing it...the trial and error of putting it out there and accepting the feedback (sometimes positive and sometimes negative) that makes it ready for prime time. Quite simply, we must create an open space for our talents to grow, or they will not grow at all. They may even wither away completely.

The Lord likes a go-getter. He’s made it clear that it is not good enough for us simply to return to Him the talents He has given us. We are to improve upon and add to our talents. He has promised that if we multiply our talents, our joy will be eternal.

"Neglect not the gift that is in thee” (1 Timothy 4:14).

Short and sweet, right?

But it definitely packs a punch.

For every gift must have its time and place
or be forgotten…and the Giver, too.
Come, let us dedicate ourselves anew.
Receive and magnify each gift with grace.



CB said...

I like that: "God likes a go-getter!"
I was one of those girls - I fekt like I was really good at alot of things but not Great at anything.

I still feel that way but I have learned that being "really good" and sharing that is a GREAT thing :-D

Good lesson Sue!

Caroline said...

Your words of wisdom are a gift to all of us. Thank you.

I love--"Some gifts are more visible than others, but that doesn't mean they are more valuable"--because I think our young people are living in a world today where the visible gifts (think singers on American Idol) appear to be the more valuable ones. As a mother of young children, i hope I can help them to feel confident about their gifts and can teach them how to use them to help others. Our gifts are here to serve. :)
I loved this post, Sue. Thanks again.

leigh hewett said...

I LOVE this post! It is all too true and you are so right...I needed to read this. How wonderful that the Lord smiles upon us when we claim the gifts that he has given us.

This is just a lovely post. Thank you!

Nancy said...

Oh Sue, what a beautiful post. So many do not recognize their own gifts. Wish you were here to share your insight with all of us.

karen said...

I think you were peeking into my day yesterday. I was having a hard time seeing anything that I was good at. Sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between being GOOD at something and being BEST at something, and when I'm not best or some proximity of it I get discouraged. Thanks for reminding me (and also for my daughter reminding me) that we don't have to beat the world over the head with our talents. We merely have to enjoy them and develop them. In this way we bless others and gain blessings ourselves. Sometimes a competitive nature is a curse...

Brian Miller said...

nice sue...great post...i used to teach the gifts class at our church and do some assessments to help them understand theirs and where they line up with what they are passionate about...

Jamie said...

I needed to be in your lesson, sigh... The lesson I attended on this same topic left me wanting. I left still feeling mostly untalented, and unsure how to share the few I know I have. It's much harder to share a talent for giving a good talk or speech than it is to share the gift of song.

And I have yet to come to the point where I can recognize all talents as equal in value. Or even recognize the talents I know must be in there somewhere. I know all that you said about our Father in Heaven blessing us is true, I know it! But I can't find the application in my own life.

You have given me much to ponder, and I will need to re-read this a few times. So glad you decided to share a mini-lesson with us! I needed it.

Sistas in Zion said...

Sometimes it seems so much easier to see the talents in others than to recognize the ones in ourselves. "If we can’t name 'em, we can’t claim 'em," Love this!

Amy said...

I love that you have given a lesson on how to develop your talents. I have been doing some soul searching, and this goes right along those same lines. Almost like a guide. Awesome! Thanks.

Darlene said...

Talents aren't much good unless they are developed and used. This is such a good lesson because there are so many really talented people that don't use them. I am so glad that you are not one of them.

Grandma Honey said...

Interesting that you should bring this up now, because Den and I have been doing personal studying about the parable of the talents just this past week. We are looking at it in a different light than we ever had before. The one who did nothing with his one talent...he ended up blaming his master, rather than just saying he was lazy. It makes us think of how some times we might PROJECT our failings onto others, rather than take responsibility for our own short comings.

Just another take on this subject.

Unknown said...

You clearly have a talent for writing and giving lessons. I think this is something I really struggle with. I don't have the gift of good self esteem and so I have the hardest time sitting down and figuring out what my gifts are. I seem to be hearing this lesson quite a bit lately so I should probably listen up and start 'owning' what's mine. :)

Stacy said...

This lesson really got you to thinking. :) I wish we had more go-getters in our branch.

I have been callings that have developed talents I didn't know I had; and callings that perfected one's I knew I had.

Heavenly Father really knows what he wants from us and gives us the tools to use to get there.

Sometimes it feels like a curse, but when the trials are through, the bright shining feeling is always worth it.

jen said...

Just read Elder Robbins' talk from conference. A to be list! I'm gonna do this. Thanks, Sue.

yaya said...

I always wonder how the Lord feels when He gives us a gift/talent and all we do is say: "Gee, I didn't get anything good"...I know I need to develop my talents more and share more biggest fear is one day the Lord will show me all the gifts I received and I will realize I never opened half of them...

Christine said...

Very encouraging. I know I have the gift of helps, and I am reminded often of it.

Momza said...

I feel strongly about this topic, as you know I wrote a blog post about it too. Developing Talents and Gifts, I believe is an important part of our journey here in this bless our lives and those around us.
I too love "God likes a go-getter"--I may have to put that on my plate in the kitchen!
Thanks Sue!

Unknown said...

Wow, what a great message! I'm one of those people who always feels that I don't have any talent or would say that I'm not talented. A part of me still feels that way especially when I compare myself to people who do things much better than me. Reading your post makes reminds me that every person is different and that everyone contributes themselves differently. Thanks for the great reminder :)

LeAnn said...

Loved your message! I too feel you have to seek out and find out what your gifts are and develop them. I think God does want us to be more proactive in developing these gifts.
You always come through with insightful thoughts.
A great post!