Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


One of the parables of Jesus Christ is about developing our talents. It tells us that we will be given greater responsibilities after we serve well in our current stewardship. Jesus taught, "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey." The servant who received five talents made some trades and doubled his talents, and the servant who received two talents did the likewise. The servant who received only one talent was afraid that he would lose it and incur the wrath of his master. He decided to bury his talents to keep it safe.

After a long time the lord of the servants returned and required an accounting for the use of the talents. The first two servants explained how they were able to double their talents. Their lord said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." When the third servant told the lord that he buried his one talent, his lord told him that he should have at least taken the money to the exchangers where he would have at least received the interest. He continued, "Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath…."

Just like the servants in this parable, we have received special gifts, talents, and abilities from our Heavenly Father. We brought them with us when we were born, but we do not all have the same gifts. Moses was a great prophet with wonderful leadership abilities but lacked the ability to speak powerfully. He was aided in his responsibility by his brother Aaron who was a good speaker. We have people around us who are great leaders like Moses and others who are good speakers like Aaron. There are others who are good in sports or have musical abilities. Other gifts include patience, cheerfulness, understanding others, or teaching. Some talents are very obvious to a casual observer, and others are more difficult to recognize.

We are given our talents with the responsibility to develop them. Many of us think that we have very few, if any, talents and think that others have been given many. Sometimes we hide our talents or don't use them because we don't want to fail or be criticized by others. This is a big mistake because we must use our gifts to develop them more fully. Heavenly Father gave each of us talents, gifts and abilities in order to bless our lives, help other people, and glorify God (see Matthew 5:16).

There are certain steps we must take in order to develop our talents, and all of the steps are easier with the Lord's help. 1) We must discover our talents. We can do this by evaluating our own strengths and abilities, asking family and friends for their input, and praying for help to learn about our talents. 2) We must willingly spend the time and effort necessary to develop the talent we desire. 3) We must have faith in ourselves as well as faith that Heavenly Father will help us. 4) We must learn the necessary skills - take classes, read a book, etc. 5) We must practice using our talent because every talent takes time and effort to develop and mastery of a talent must be earned. 6) We must willingly share our talent with other people because it is using talents that helps them to grow.

Even though we have weaknesses, we can still develop our talents. When Moroni expressed a fear to the Lord that people would mock his writing, he was told, "Fools mock…. And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:26-27).

We see the talents of others after they have struggled to develop them. Many great people have overcome weakness to develop wonderful talents. Beethoven was deaf when he composed his greatest music. The prophet Enoch became a powerful teacher after overcoming his slowness of speech (see Moses 6:26-47). Heber J. Grant turned many of his weaknesses into talents. He had the following motto: "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" (in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant [2002], 35).

The scriptures tell us that we will be judged according to the work we do (see Matthew 16:27). President Joseph F. Smith taught, "Every son and every daughter of God has received some talent, and each will be held to strict account for the use or misuse to which it is put" (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 370). We can perform good works when we develop and use our gifts and talents for the good of other people. Just as the lord in the parable was pleased with the first two servants, Heavenly Father is pleased with us when we use our gifts wisely. He has given us these talents to benefit other people and to further His work here upon earth. Some of the blessings that we receive through wise use of our talents are joy, love, and self-control, all of which are necessary for worthiness to live with Heavenly Father again.

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