While we were in heaven with our Heavenly Father, He gave each of us at least one talent and/or ability; we brought our talents and abilities with us when we came to this life. Some talents are: leadership, ability to speak, sing, play a musical instrument, athletics, or ability to work with our hands. Other talents are being a good listener, understanding others, cheerfulness, patience, or the ability to teach other people. Moses had great leadership ability but lacked the ability to speak well; Aaron, his brother, had the ability to speak well.
We have been given talents by Heavenly Father, but we have the responsibility to receive His gifts. In other words, we may have been given great musical talents or great athletic abilities, but we also have the responsibility to develop and use our talents. Sometimes, we have a difficult time recognizing our talents and think others are greater blessed.
We must do certain things in order to develop our talents: (1) We must discover our talents by examining our strengths and abilities, asking others for help doing so, and asking Heavenly Father. (2) We must be willing to spend the time and effort to develop our talent.
(3) We must have faith in our ability to develop the talent, and faith in Heavenly Father that He will help us. (4) We must learn the skills involved in the talent by taking a class, taking lessons, reading a do-it-yourself book, etc. (5) We must practice our talent. No one can master a talent without earning it. (6) We must share our talent with others in order for it to continue to grow.
The Lord does not always make it easy for us to have a talent; in fact, sometimes, He gives us weaknesses to overcome in order to find our strengths (see Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Ether 12:27). Elder Paul H. Dunn of the Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote: “Beethoven, a great composer, wrote his greatest works after he was stone deaf. Demosthenes overcame weak lungs and a lisp to become one of the greatest orators of all time” (I Challenge You, p. 65).
Shelly Mann was an athlete who developed her talents in spite of a handicap. Elder Marvin J. Ashton explained, “At the age of five she had polio…. Her parents took her daily to a swimming pool where they hoped the water would help hold her arms up as she tried to use them again. When she could lift her arm out of the water with her own power, she cried for joy. Then her goal was to swim the width of the pool, then the length, then several lengths. She kept on trying, swimming, enduring, day after day, until she won the gold medal for the butterfly stroke – one of the most difficult of all swimming strokes” (Ensign, May 1975, p. 86).
President Heber J. Grant is known for overcoming several weaknesses and turning them into strengths. His motto was: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing is changed, but that our power to do is increased” (Gospel Standards, p. 355).
We are each responsible for using or misusing the talents given to us by God. When we do as God desires, He gives us blessings. Some of the blessings that come from using our talents to bless other people are joy in serving, love for our brothers and sisters, self-control, and the ability to focus.
Heavenly Father wants us to develop our talents. He is pleased when we develop our talents wisely and will bless us as we use our talents to help other people and to build up His kingdom on earth. Jesus Christ taught in parable of the talents that when we use our talents to serve well in our stewardships, we will be given greater responsibilities. This parable also teaches that those who choose not to develop their talents will lose them.