December Young Women Lesson: How does Heavenly Father want me to use my spiritual gifts?
Introduce the doctrine
D&C 46 11-12
11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man [and woman] is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
What does this scripture teach us about gifts?
Answers may include:
- There are many different gifts.
- Everyone is good at something.
- Most people are not good at everything.
- God intends for everyone to benefit from each other’s gifts
Share this quote by Marvin J. Ashton:
One of the great tragedies of life, it seems to me, is when a person classifies himself [or herself] as someone who has no talents or gifts…For us to conclude that we have no gifts when we judge ourselves by stature, intelligence, grade-point average, wealth, power, position, or external appearance is not only unfair but unreasonable…God has given each of us one or more special talents. Socrates made the famous statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It is up to each of us to search for and build upon the gifts which God has given…
Let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable. Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.
We must remember that to every man [and woman] is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us. –Marvin J. Ashton http://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/11/there-are-many-gifts
Writing Activity: Examining Your Gifts
Ask each young woman to write a list of ten of their own gifts or talents. They may include talents they have already mastered as well as talents they are working to obtain.
Give the young women some time to write. Ten is a large number and this activity may be hard for some young women. Explain that this is intentional. If a young woman has a more obvious gift, such as musical ability, she is likely to think of that first and it will be near the top of her list. But this activity is designed to encourage the young women to think harder and uncover some of their more subtle gifts.
If some young woman cannot think of 10 talents/gifts, invite them to take their partially completed lists home and consult a friend, a family member, their patriarchal blessings and/or Heavenly Father (through prayer) to discover more of their gifts.
After writing the list, ask each young woman to share:
- One of the talents near the top of her list.
- One of the talents near the end of her list.
- How she might use these gifts in a way that would please God.
Invite the young women to read Matthew 25:14–30, or invite a class member to retell the parable of the talents.
14¶ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 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.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been bfaithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the djoy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, 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.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an ahard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was aafraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the atalent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 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.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
When we talk about this parable, we often focus on the fact that one of the servants hid his talent and lost it. However, it is also important to note that the servants who used their talents wisely developed new talents which they did not have before.
8 Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
What are the best gifts? How can we earnestly seek them?
27 And if men [and women] come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men [and women] weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men [and women] 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.
Share these three examples from scripture and church history of people who lacked the gift of public speaking ability. The Lord helped each of them in different ways.
1. Moses was able to perform his calling with the help of Aaron, who had the gift he lacked.
Moses 4:10, 14-16
10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy amouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
2. Enoch spake publicly in spite of his lack of natural ability and eventually God made him a powerful speaker.
Moses 6:31, 37; Moses 7:13
31 And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?
37 And it came to pass that Enoch went forth in the land, among the people, standing upon the hills and the high places, and cried with a loud voice, testifying against their works; and all men were offended because of him.
13 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.
3. Emily S. Richards learned to speak publicly with the help of Eliza R. Snow.
Sister Eliza R. Snow was a gifted writer and public speaker…Some women felt reluctant and unprepared to speak in public. Sister Snow gave the following counsel to such sisters: “Do not let your president have to say all. … Has not God endowed you with the gift of speech? … If you are endowed with the Spirit of God, no matter how simple your thoughts may be, they will be edifying to those who hear you.”24
Emily S. Richards said that Sister Snow helped her learn to speak in public: “The first time [she] asked me to speak in meeting, I could not, and she said, ‘Never mind, but when you are asked to speak again, try and have something to say,’ and I did.”25 Sister Richards continued to improve in her ability as a public speaker, and in 1889 she spoke at the National Woman Suffrage Association convention in Washington, D. C.
A journalist described Sister Richards as “trembling slightly under the gaze of the multitude, yet reserved, self possessed, dignified, and as pure and sweet as an angel. … It was not the words themselves but the gentle spirit [that] went with the words and carried winning grace to every heart.”26
Live what we are learning
Invite the young women to find a way to use one of the gifts they wrote on their list for the benefit of others during the next week. If the young women were unable to think of 10 of their own gifts, invite them to take their partially completed lists home and consult a friend, a family member, their patriarchal blessings and/or your Heavenly Father (through prayer) to discover more of their gifts. They may complete Individual Worth value experience 7 in Personal Progress as part of this process