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Last month, a lesson I taught in church was on developing talents. Most of the time, lessons I give are on subjects I am by no means adept at. This one, however, is my thing. This is something I have experience with and feel like I can speak on with a certain amount of authority. I don’t say it in a boastful way; I just know that I have a lot of talents that I have developed in the last 10 years. I know these are talents I worked hard for, and I know my abilities to do them have been a blessing.
We are all parents here who are trying to be the best parents we can. I think most of us have talents we wish we had, so I figured a discussion on developing talents would be beneficial here.
First, let’s start off by pointing out that we all have talents. Each of us has at least one thing we are good at. Not all talents are things that can be displayed at a talent show or on a table. Some have a talent with patience or cheerfulness.
Of course, we also all have things we would like to have as talents. So how to we do that? And why bother?
Why We Develop Talents
You know I like to break things down into why and how.
If you are religious, you simply need to read the parable of the talents found in Matthew to know that we have a responsibility to develop our talents. We sometimes are afraid (of failure, of people rejecting us, of the effort involved, etc.) to use and grow our talents, but fear is not a viable excuse.
When you do not use the talents you have, they eventually wither and die. You share and utilize your talents so that they might grow and flourish.
Guess what? Nobody is perfect. No one is good at everything. We all have weaknesses. The manual I taught from had some great examples of people who developed talents despite great obstacles.
Beethoven–great composer correct? He also composed some of his greatest work after he became deaf. Don’t you think he could have thrown his arms up in the air and given up on composing? I don’t think anyone would have blamed him for it. Look at what he accomplished through his efforts in face of his weakness.
Shelly Man–Olympic gold medalist for the butterfly stroke. The butterfly stroke is one of the most difficult in swimming. Guess what happened to Shelly at age five? She had polio. She started in a pool just for the help in lifting her arms. She made small goal after small goal until she won that gold medal.She also won a silver medal in freestyle.
Remember a quote I shared with you last month: 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” (Heber J. Grant).
You can do it if you want to.
How We Develop Talents
Then the question becomes how? Here is a list (as you go through each step, remember prayer–pray for help):
- Discover your talents: ask friends and family as well as ponder to discover what you are good at. You can of course also pray to know.
- Be willing to work: to develop a talent takes time and effort. You must be willing to give these things to grow your talent.
- Have faith: have faith in you and have faith in the Lord that He will help you.
- Learn: you might need to take a class, ask someone you know who has a talent in the subject, read a book, read a blog, watch a youtube video…we are so fortunate in our day. We have so many infinite resources to help us learn new things. Don’t be afraid to ask people. I ask people to teach me things all the time. I have learned to crochet, preserve food, and garden from asking people. Also, classes are invaluable. I have taken sewing classes, baking classes, dance classes, vocal lessons–classes help you learn. Finally, don’t be afraid to just try it. I make jewelry and basically just fiddled around until I figured it out.
- Practice: this is where the work and effort comes in. Back at step two you decided you were willing to do this. You are going to have to accept in your mind that when you first start your talent, say it is making bread, you will not be as good as the nice woman who taught you. You have been making bread for a day. She has been making bread for over 30 years. You will need to put in the effort to get to be good at this talent.
- Share: share your talents with others. Remember the parable of the talents (Matthew 20)? The servants who used their talents got more. The one who buried it got nothing. Help others learn and serve others using your talent.
Use It or Lose it
I was contemplating my life and the course of my developing talents so far. I think I was born with three innate talents: singing, organization, and intelligence. Like the profitable servants in the parable of the talents, I put a lot of effort into cultivating my talents and increasing in my ability within those. Because of that, I could be trusted with more.
I still have talents I want to develop. I want to learn to play the piano. I also want to learn to be a photographer. I know from past experience that if I put effort into learning these things, I can do it.
So readers, what talents do you want to develop? And what resources have you found valuable as you strive to develop talents?