This year I have been blessed to have gained both a nephew and a niece. As I hold these sweet babies, it is hard to look at them and not wonder what their futures will look like, what experiences and interests they will have, what kind of people they will grow up to be. And, as I spend time with my nephews and niece who are a bit older, it is hard to see anything but endless potential. Though we may be older, and have a great deal of life experience under our belt, each of us is, as Elder Ronald A. Rasband wrote, yet ”blessed with many marvelous capabilities” and, he continues “one of the great objectives of our journey through mortality is to improve upon them.”
Shortly before his crucifixion, the Savior took his disciples to the Mount of Olives and instructed them, teaching them with many parables, including the parable of the talents. The familiar parable tells of a man who, traveling into a far-off country, called his servants together to deliver unto them his goods. To one servant he gave five talents, to another two, and another one. He then left on his journey. While he was gone, the servants who had received the five and the two talents labored diligently and doubled what they had been given. The servant who had received one talent “went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.”
Upon his return, to the servants who had gained talents, the lord said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant[s]: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” To the servant who had buried his talent, the lord chastised him, calling him “wicked and slothful,” and took the talent and gave it to the servant who had originally received five talents.
Most striking in my latest reading of this parable was the servant’s explanation for burying his talent; “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth.” Fear, unfortunately, is an emotion that most of us are too familiar with. Which has led me to wonder, what talents have I been blessed with that I am not developing because I am afraid? What blessings, experiences, and successes am I forfeiting because of fear or perhaps complacency? How can I develop my talents to bless my immediate family and the larger human family? What is the full measure of my potential in the Lord’s eyes?
President James E. Faust said, “Some of us are too content with what we may already be doing. We stand back in the ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ mode when opportunities for growth and development abound. We miss opportunities … because we have the passive notion that someone else will take care of it. The Lord tells us that He will give more to those who are willing. They will be magnified in their efforts. . . . But to those who say, ‘We have enough,’ from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”
The Lord promises to bless our endeavors if they are righteous, so why not push ourselves to experience life more fully and grow? Why not take risks? Why not make ourselves vulnerable and open for more? We are each blessed with a full range of unique talents and abilities. The challenge is to identify and develop these gifts; to see ourselves as more than who we are in this moment.
Much like we see endless promise and potential in the faces of young children, the Lord sees that in us. As we allow ourselves to catch a glimpse of that vision we can more confidently develop our whole selves as we seek out and develop those gifts we have each been given.