Gospel Principles Lesson 34: Developing Our Talents

Excerpt from "Every Good Gift" by Elder Robert D. Hales:

This scripture tells us that it is not wrong to seek earnestly for the best gifts if we do it for the right reasons.

Too often, however, those who possess great talents are selfish and do not use their gifts for the benefit of others. And more importantly, they do not acknowledge that these gifts are God-given. If we properly understood the source of our creative talents, there would be no application of writing, dancing, music, or photography for Satan’s purposes. The prophet Moroni wisely counsels us about using our talents for evil. He exhorts us to “come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing;” (Moro. 10:30). However, we are here in mortal probation to use our free agency and choose good from evil.

In Doctrine and Covenants 52:14–19 [D&C 52:14–19], we are given a guide to follow so that our creative gifts can be used for righteous purposes. We are told that the gift or pattern of discernment is dependent upon prayer, a contrite spirit, obedience to the ordinances and commandments, meek and edifying language, no contention, humble acknowledgement of the Lord’s power, and our bringing forth fruits of praise and wisdom.

Section 46, verse 10 [D&C 46:10] also makes reference to our “minds,” meaning our ability to study, learn, and develop our intelligence, gifts, and talents. We have the responsibility to improve ourselves.

A friend of mine was asked, “Do you play the piano?” He replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t tried yet.” What a great lesson! How many talents we may have hidden that are waiting to emerge if we just try!

Don’t forget, though, that developing our creative talents is not an easy task. Sometimes I catch myself rationalizing about my lack of talents by saying, “All have not every gift given unto them” (D&C 46:11). For example, when we work closely with translators and interpreters, it’s easy to say to them, “How fortunate you are to have the gift of tongues.” On one occasion the direct answer to me was, “My gift of tongues was received after thousands of hours of study and after overcoming many moments of failure and discouragement.”

As I mentioned earlier, creativity is not limited solely to the cultural arts. This definition is too confining. We have the ability to produce creative works in our daily activities. Creativity can also be used to find solutions to everyday problems by developing new ways of approaching the problems. I have seen such creativity during my lifetime association with marketing, sales, advertising, and new product development.

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