Jul 5, 2007

Gifts and Talents

By Kari Diane Pike

Marsha Ward taught me something Sunday. The lesson is growing and expanding, filling my being with light and joy and love. Marsha related her experience during Sunday school and studying the parable of the talents as told in Matthew 25. She said,

“So it is with the talents the Lord has given us. He will come again and ask us how we did with His talents.

His talents.

They are on loan to us, to increase them during our stay on earth. If we do our very best with them, we will be called good and faithful servants, and receive all that He has to give.”

I went back to my New Testament and reread Matthew 25. Actually, I read it several times, fascinated by the depth of this parable. I wanted to know more. I read all the cross-references at the bottom of the page and I turned to the Topical guide and looked up “gifts,” and “God, Gifts of,” and “talents.”

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Doctrine and Covenants 6:10 says, “Behold, thou hast a gift, and blessed art thou because of thy gift. Remember it is sacred and cometh from above.”

These scriptures verify the very thing Marsha shared with us. The gifts and talents we have all come from our Father in Heaven and they are sacred. Wow! But now what? How do we recognize the gifts over which we have been made stewards? What do we do with them once we have become aware of them? We know we are expected to do something with them because the parable teaches us that there will be a day of reckoning. The Lord tells us in Doctrine and Covenants 72: 3-4,

“And verily in this thing ye have done wisely, for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity, For he who is faithful and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mansions prepared for him of my Father.”

Doctrine and Covenants 6:11 teaches, “And if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know the mysteries which are great and marvelous; therefore thou shalt exercise thy gift, that thou mayest bring many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, convince them of the error of their ways.”

1 Peter 4:10 gives us another clue. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

Doctrine and Covenants 46:11-12 says, “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.”

Doctrine and covenants 82: 18-19 says, “And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the property of the whole church – Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.”

Doctrine and Covenants 46: 26 tells us, “And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.”

As I studied these verses, I imagined all of us gathered around the Lord as he named our gifts and gave us stewardship over them. He knows us each by name and he knows our different abilities. Some of us received one, some of us received two, and some of us received five of these sacred and special responsibilities. We promised to develop our gifts so that we could share with all of our brothers and sisters; something like a co-op of farmers, each assigned different crops, all of which, after the harvest, would be placed in a community storehouse. Every talent or gift that we increase benefits not only our self, but every one of the Lord’s children.

I was excited to share my new understanding of these scriptures with my Monday morning walking partners. And guess what! I learned even more! Julie had just returned from a seminar at the George Wythe College in Cedar City. One of the lectures focused on the subject of recognizing, understanding, and using our gifts. He told the audience that he was going to name nine general categories of gifts. He said that one or more of those gifts would stand out to them and that he wanted them to write it down, because more than likely, that was their gift. He also told them that perhaps another gift would come to their mind rather than one of the ones he stated and that they should listen to their hearts and write them down. Then he began listing the categories,

“Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, teach truth, heal families….”

I didn’t hear the rest. I started crying. The spirit touched my heart, my mind, my entire being. I have since read the verses in Matthew 5, Matthew 25, and in Doctrine and Covenants 46. Have you ever sat down and made a list of the possible gifts the Lord has waiting for you? This question has been asked before on this Bog, but I will ask again. Why do you write? What is your purpose in writing? What is your gift? Take a moment, or an hour, and make a list of the gifts available to us. It is exciting!


  1. Kari, while I just sit and placidly ponder, you research and pass it on. Many thanks, and a big hooray for you. I'm going to sit right down and make myself a list of talents, and ignore--unless I find the're on MY talent list--all those things on my 'ought to do' list that keep getting forwarded to the next day.

    As an old WWII song says, I've 'gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative; don't mess with Mr. Inbetween'. Come to think of it, it's probably this 'Mr. Inbetween' that is my biggest stumbling block.

    I've long been, and keep getting more and more, in awe of all the talent I encounter in ANWA. Thanks, Marsha, for founding it, and for all you wonderful, talented women who give support.

  2. This is hard for me. I can never quite figure out what is a gift/talent in this sense. My mother lost her beloved husband last Thanksgiving who had never joined the church. But if ever there was a dry Mormon, it was my stepdad. She's not handling widowhood well. Her bishop noticed and talked with her about her special gift to the ward and how it had been missed. He told her in no uncertain terms that the Lord had things in mind for her still and her talents were needed. My mother has many talents but the one that stands out is her personality. She has a way of making everyone feel at ease, people (even my boyfriends along the way) love her. Her smile is beautiful. It's been missing. I'll pass this along to her. Who knew a smile could be that important?

  3. The parable of the talents pre-dates modern use of the word; the modern meaning of "talent" is a metaphor that actually came out of this parable in the 15th century.

    We have by linguistic consent interpreted this parable to be about our "special abilities." But the context of the parable leaves it open to much broader interpretation. Basically any gift God gives us, like the air we breathe or the earth we live on, fits into this parable, because when Jesus said "talent" (or, more probably, "talente" or "talentum") the only meaning the word had was "a thing of great value."

    Really it is a parable about stewardship--where much is given, much is expected, and not just in terms of abilities.

    There's Joyce and Donna's "historical context" for the day (-:

  4. Joyce and Donna ,
    That's what I love about parables! I have also looked at talents as a unit of measurement. A talent often refers to a certain measure of grain...the exact amount escapes me, but it served as a great visual for me...It made sense that someone could be given 5 measures of grain and plant it and be able to have 10 measures to give back. it clarified that concept of "where much is given much is expected!" If you aren't given as much to plant, you aren't going to get as big of a harvest.

    A smile is such a gift...and a talent. So many people forget how to "smile." I have one daughter that is never without a smile on her face. she is always a joy to be around because you always end up feeling good about yourself.

    Thanks for the cheer Anna. I appreciate ANWA, too. I learn so much from everyone.

  5. Anonymous,

    We'd like to know you better. It's simply good netiquette to sign your comments when you use the easiest way of signing in to make them.

    Thank you.

  6. Many years ago, I got tired of people dismissing my words because of my age or appearance, because I wasn't married or because I had no children, really a million little ways people could judge me instead of my ideas.

    The beauty of the Internet is that you have to weigh my words and judge them without reference to me. You can't dismiss what I say because I'm too old, or too young, or too rich, or too poor, or too experienced, or too naive. You have to weigh what I type and agree or disagree with what I say, instead of agreeing or disagreeing with me.

    "Netiquette" is such a silly word. I bet I've been using the Internet since before you knew it existed. Back in the early 80's, we all used pseudonyms, and enjoyed the way people judged our ideas instead of our identities. The Internet frees us of trappings like our age or gender or country of origin. It's also a good idea for avoiding identity theft to keep your name off the Internet!

    If I signed this entry "Jennifer O'Doole" or "Lacy Bingham" or "Jerry Springer," what difference would it make? For all you know I'm the alter-ego of Anna Arnett or Terri Wagner. I'm not, but I could be. You don't know me, and everything I know about you I've read on this blog. I enjoy the discussions and the ideas and that's good enough for me.

    If you really are more interested in judging people than in exchanging ideas, you can always disable anonymous commenting. But then you'll block out all the other anonymous souls that comment, so you have to decide which is more the more important of the two-identities, or ideas.


  7. See, Kari, what marvelous dialogue you have sparked!

    I appreciated being privy, secondhand, to your scholarship. I can't ever seem to muster up the oomph to study footnotes. I'm an auditory learner and would rather listen to the scriptures, letting them wash over me and hoping that some get absorbed through the ear canals much like some medicines are.

    I appreciated Anonymous's comments and your reply, Kari. The only problem I have with Anonymous not supplying us with a name is, how can we tell one Anonymous from another? Yes, A's style is certainly recognizable, but, perhaps someone will steal A's identity, posting sly, erudite comments in A's guise.

    I say, please, Anonymous, give us some way to recognize that it is indeed you, so we know our dialogue is consistently with the same person.

    Indeed, could not a lively discussion ensue about our need to know or identify those with whom we have any sort of dealings?

  8. Dear Anonymous UH,

    I found your comments about the parable of the talents very enlightening. Thanks for sharing that bit of "historical context" with us! It does, indeed, give me a broader view of the parable's meaning and application.

    I agree with Liz that even a set of initials (UH) will help us to differentiate you from other Anonymouses (Anonymices?) who make comments on our blogs.

  9. Hear, hear! We formally dub you Anonymous UH--though I see you've already dubbed yourself that. I missed it the first time I read your posting. Please continue to visit our blog and contribute.

  10. Kari, you always remind me that I must, I must, I must engage my bust-ed writing diligence.


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