Increasing talents to build the kingdom, do the Lord's work
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Every individual is blessed with many marvelous capabilities and talents, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy told BYU-Idaho students during a campus devotional on Jan. 25. It is how individuals identify and build upon those talents that is part of the journey of life and purpose of mortality, he said.
Drawing from the Parable of the Talents in the New Testament, Elder Rasband spoke of the importance of individuals identifying the talents they have been blessed with and then increasing those talents.
"Sometimes we have a fear of using our talents," he said. "We use excuses such as 'I know I can't do that,' or 'Someone else can do it much better than I,' or 'Those listening to me, or watching me, will criticize and judge me.' "
Elder Rasband reminded the audience that it is through discovering and building upon talents that individuals are able to build the kingdom on Earth and do the Lord's work.
"Every person comes to Earth as a unique individual," Elder Rasband said. "Similar threads may run in families, but each of us has a tapestry all our own. … The Lord 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 we will receive eternal joy."
In order to help individuals identify and build upon their God-given talents, Elder Rasband shared three principles that aid in applying the teachings of the Parable of the Talents.
1. Seek earnestly to discover the talents given by the Lord.
"The talents God has given us first become apparent in the interests we pursue," he said. "If you are wondering about your talents, make a list of the things you like to do. Include all the activities you enjoy from different dimensions of your life — spiritual, musical, dramatic, academic, athletic and so on. Study and ponder your patriarchal blessing for insights and inspiration. Consult family members, trusted friends, teachers and leaders; others often can see in us what we find difficult to see in ourselves."
Choosing wisely friends and mentors is a great way to help individuals identify the gifts and talents they have been blessed with, he said. Individuals can also learn more about themselves by identifying their gifts and talents as they search out their family history and look to the lives of their ancestors.
"Let me reassure you my young brothers and sisters, each one of you has been blessed with special talents," he said. "Each of you has been blessed with divine talents by our Father in Heaven. He is waiting for you to identify, develop and magnify those talents He has blessed you with."
2. Use talents to build up the kingdom of God.
"I don't just mean the Church," he said. "Our first priority in building the kingdom is in helping others in our own family. Parents are in a unique and powerful position to encourage and support their children in developing their talents. Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family members; we all have many opportunities to help others identify their talents. … The successes in life of those we assist, sponsor, mentor and lift as they pursue their own talents can bring us great joy and satisfaction."
By focusing on serving the Savior, individuals are guided in making proper decisions in their daily lives, Elder Rasband said. That perspective prepares individuals to do whatever the Lord may ask of them at any time.
3. Acknowledge God's hand in all successes.
"We must never forget or stop acknowledging that all talents and abilities come from God," he said. "Some were given to us before our birth, while others have been acquired as we have developed. However, in both cases, they are gifts from a benevolent Heavenly Father, whose gracious blessings are also the means for improving our talents and obtaining others. ..."
Elder Rasband spoke of his grandson, Paxton, who was born in 2010 and suffers from health problems. Even as a tiny baby in the hospital, Paxton has been able to bless his family and remind them of the things that truly matter most in life through some of his special gifts he was born with.
"I am thankful for the knowledge the Lord has given us — that we are His children and that we are to magnify and multiply our talents to our fullest potential," he said. "The experiences you have each day, if you will allow them to be, can and will be stepping stones that will help to shape each of your lives, as they have mine. They will assist you in finding your gifts and talents that will be used as you progress through mortality here upon the earth."