When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided to break out of my shell and show people I could rap, or that I thought I could rap. So I asked my English teacher, who was also a friend of mine, if he could help me find a time and a place for me to perform a song I had written in front of a small crowd, for starters. He came to me a week later and told me he got me scheduled to perform at an assembly in which the entire school would be attending. I was terrified, but I couldn’t complain because I was given the opportunity I asked for. After I performed my song, and everyone was cheering, there was a confidence from deep inside of me that surfaced and has been with me ever since. It was this experience that led me on the path to magnify the talent God has given me and become the person I am today.
In the school year following this experience, I began to think there were others who needed to feel what I felt standing in that gymnasium. I didn’t know who, but I felt the Spirit prompting me to create that opportunity for them. So I organized an after-school Hip Hop club with the help of that same English teacher, William Mckelvey, who was also wholeheartedly invested in Hip Hop and its music. To our surprise, the class was made up of students who many would consider to be shy and slightly awkward. There were a few that I had never heard speak in class before and a couple of them were too afraid to even look at the class while presenting. I can honestly say that no one would have ever guessed that these students would be confidently performing their own poetry in front of an audience just a few months later.
In order to compliment every student’s unique style, each of us found an instrumental we liked and wrote a verse to it. Once we all had our beats chosen, I mixed them together on GarageBand to make one song. After a few months of practice, I took the stage, along with those same students who had previously been too shy to perform in front of a classroom, and together we successfully put on a show in front of a couple hundred people. It was such a unique experience for me because I never thought that I could be serving others in this way just by following through with my promptings and removing myself from my comfort zone.
Finding Your Gifts
Each of us is blessed with gifts and talents that are directly given by our Heavenly Mother and Father. Some have discovered that gift or gifts, others have not. If you have not discovered that gift, seek it and you will find it. If you have found that gift, you are obligated to use it righteously as a servant of our Heavenly Father. The Lord told the prophet Joseph Smith, “For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:11–12.)
Every gift, no matter how big or how small, is given not to benefit our own selves but to benefit all of God's children. Isaac Newton's gift of curiosity and intelligent thinking led him do discover calculus, and now I'm taking calculus. Thanks, Isaac Newton. Nephi had the gift of perseverance and built the boat that led him and his family to the Promised Land. If I had not gathered the courage to stand in front of a thousand people and share my gift there wouldn’t be an after-school Hip Hop club for students today. Every one of us has the ability to change the world with our gifts. Maybe not as much as Isaac Newton or Nephi, but at least for somebody else.
Blessing Others with Your Gifts
The Lord blesses those who use their gifts to serve His children and build His kingdom. Romans 12:3-8 says:
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Heavenly Father knows the intentions of our hearts and will bless us accordingly. We cannot practice our righteousness in front of others so that we can be seen by them and then expect the Lord to reward us. Therefore, use your gift to spread God’s love and message.
Gaining Gratitude for Gifts You Don’t Have
As children of God, His spiritual DNA lives inside of us. Therefore, inside every one of us lies greatness and the potential to become creators, designers, parents, and so much more. Do not let laziness stop you from doing great things. Greatness can only be achieved by taking the opportunities given to us. Opportunities can open doors to places you never would have thought you could thrive in. Opportunities can lead you to discover more about who you are and what kind of talents Heavenly Father has blessed you with. Opportunities you take can inspire others to do great things. Opportunities can build your faith in God. All you have to do is start moving and He will guide you. It is impossible for Him to guide you if you’re standing still. So you must take action and never miss an opportunity. Sometimes fear of failure, or anxiety, makes us believe we are incapable and stops us from seizing the moment. But I testify that no matter the outcome of an opportunity taken, you will learn from it if you let it teach you. In the words of Eminem, remember this: “You only get one shot. Do not miss your chance to blow. Cause opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
Many times we take opportunities that lead us to discover our faults. When you come across this situation, do not lose hope because it is possible to adopt gifts. For example, I could be a talented basketball player, but I'd lose a one-on-one match against someone who isn’t but practices six hours a day and eats healthier than I do. One cannot expect to achieve a goal if they rely solely on their talent. Those who work harder will surpass them no matter how much less talented they might be. God didn’t put us on this earth to have easy lives. He put us here to struggle and grow to become greater. If you want to be gifted at something you’re not, strive for it and you shall prosper.
I am grateful for the gifts and talents my Heavenly Father has given me and I am grateful for the ones He hasn’t. Working hard to adopt the gifts I don’t have allows me to experience the bitter taste of failure, but more importantly, the rewarding feeling of success. For example, I used to be a terrible public speaker. Standing in front of people used to make me sweat and stutter. But by taking the opportunity to be a student government leader my senior year, I led many assemblies and events that ultimately gave me the confidence I need to be comfortable speaking in public today. This learned skill serves as a testament to my ability to carry out my potential. Without experiences like these, it would be difficult for me to recognize my individual worth. Because of them and the opportunities Heavenly Father gives me, I am closer to discovering the man He needs me to be.
God has blessed us all with gifts and talents because He wants us to become more like Him. Taking opportunities to serve Him will open doors we never knew existed. As you strive to become more like Him you will dive into the unknown and discover who you are.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on LDSLiving.com in June 2018.