Tag Archives: gifts of the spirit

When You List Your Personal Strengths, Are You Remembering This One?

unspecifiedWe really, really look forward to Mondays. That’s “Email Day” around here. Each week I update our missionary-son, Landon, on our lives and share a short gospel principle that’s, hopefully, encouraging. I also ask him three to five questions about himself and his mission experience.

Last week one of my questions invited him to list some of the strengths, gifts, or talents he’s noticing he is developing. I thought I’d hear him talk about some newfound courage or ability to love others or a developed work-ethic. His answer (and what follows is all he wrote about it) caught me a little off guard:

“I think I’ve just realized my weak spots right now. I have noticed that now when things get rough the first thing I do is turn to the Lord. Which if you count Him as my strength, I guess there’s one.” (Elder Mickelson, January 2017)

Each of us possess talents and talents-in-embryo. We each have strengths and gifts. But when we’re in a covenant relationship with the Savior, He becomes our greatest Gift. Many of us take courage when approaching a challenge when we’re reminded of some gift that will give us an advantage in the sticky situation. But, doesn’t having the Savior as our Advocate, Redeemer, and Savior give us the ultimate advantage in mortality.

The next time you are facing a problem, remember to list all of your gifts, especially the ultimate Gift. He is our greatest source of strength…

Be Encouraging…



The Gift of Tongues, Courage, and Our Son the Missionary (a letter to Landon)…

unspecifiedI wrote to Landon today and sent the letter through the Church’s “pouch” system, which is great but slow. Not knowing exactly when the letter will arrive in Mexico, I tried to share some ideas with him that will not be “old” no matter when the letter arrives. Here’s part of the letter:

“Dear Landon (sent through the Pouch on Jan. 3, 2017) (sorry for the small font size and spacing…gotta keep it under a page!)

“Man, I wish these letters could make it to you the next day like in the MTC! I loved knowing you could hear from us in just 24 hours most days. Knowing this letter may take a month to get to you isn’t very fun! But, I want you to get physical mail every once in while and the emails are more “conversational” so these letters will be more just me sharing things about the gospel as if we were sitting on the couch downstairs. I miss our gospel conversations!

“I learned a pretty important truth from one of my students and I know we’ve talked about it before but I want to share it again. In fact, I’ll be sharing two things today and both are important to missionary work and the work of salvation in general [I’m not including the second idea in this blog post]. Here’s the first truth…

“I was asking my students about the “gift of tongues” and what was required to receive that gift. Of course, the students mentioned praying for the gift and studying the language which are obviously important and I’m sure you’re working on those two. But one student surprised me a little with her answer. She said, “Courage is the most important thing. Once I decided to just try to speak to people in their language, knowing that I’d mess it up and a few people would laugh a little or make fun, my language skills took off and I really noticed the gift of tongues.” Most of the class nodded. When I pressed them a little, they all said that they had to just get over the fear of messing up in front of others. Interestingly, trying to use the gift before they had the gift was actually part of receiving the gift. They saw real growth when they showed the Lord that they weren’t going to let fear dictate their progress or actions.

“I think it is true of all gifts, and there are more gifts available than just the ones listed in the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 12 and Moroni 10 and D&C 46. In fact, there are endless gifts to help us overcome endless mortal weaknesses. If we are trying to develop the spiritual gift of forgiveness, we have to be a little gutsy and forgive someone who may hurt us again. Or if we are trying to develop the gift of service we have to go out of our comfort zones and offer help even when it is uncomfortable. So here’s the principle: Qualifying for the gifts of the Spirit requires courage. When I was a bishop, I prayed for the gift of discernment which means, in part, the ability to know the thoughts and intents of the hearts (through the Spirit) of those I was serving. I prayed for it, a lot. There were times when I would sense someone was struggling after passing them in the hallway or seeing them in sacrament meeting. I would worry though that if I asked them, they’d look at me weird and tell me that they were fine and then I’d look like a overly-worried, nosey bishop. But after a while, I decided to just ask people when I had those moments and hoped that they’d feel my love and God’s love and even if I was wrong, they’d know I was asking because of that love. So, I got brave and started opening my mouth more. And 9 times out of 10 they were struggling. Maybe 9.5 times out of 10. And that gift grew and developed and was a real blessing to certain ward members and to me. But it wouldn’t have developed had I not got over myself and my fears and started just acting. I’m grateful the Lord was willing to bless others through that gift, but courage was a key.

“So, how can you take your courage up a notch? What can you do today to show the Lord that you won’t get in your own way when it comes to the gift of tongues? How can you muster even more courage to just go and talk, open your mouth, regardless of your current skill level?

“I know that as you continue to show the Lord your courage (and I know you are courageous, or you wouldn’t be out there in Mexico surrounded by strangers!), He will literally fill your mouth with His words, in the language of the people you’re serving…”

There’s a few more paragraphs in the letter and the font was so small he may not even be able to read it. I hope the idea of developing courage is a blessing to him and the missionaries around him. It has been to me!

Be Encouraging…



The Absolute Power of a “Thank You” Card…

Screen shot 2013-12-08 at 2.36.30 PMI like Janese’s calling. She is one of the leaders in our ward’s Young Women’s program. I enjoy hearing about how the week-day activities and the lessons went. She loves her calling, the women she serves with, and the girls she gets to spend time with. Today we were discussing the lesson she taught: “How Does Heavenly Father Want Me to Use My Spiritual Gifts?”

Of course, part of the lesson is to discuss how we determine which gifts we’ve been blessed with. For a short reading on how Mormons view spiritual gifts, take a second and read this short article on the LDS.org site. I’m not much for dramatic spiritual demonstrations, but we, as Latter-Day Saints, really do believe in the gifts of the spirit:

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. (Article of Faith 1:7)

In fact, though you’ll find lists of spiritual gifts in the scriptures, there really isn’t an exhaustive list of gifts we receive through the Holy Ghost that bless others and assist us as we strive to build the church and spread the gospel. There are endless gifts. I believe that for every weakness, there is a gift that can “fill in the gaps”, so to speak. If you need to speak another language to help share the gospel, the gift of tongues can help you learn the language. If you need to be a better listener as a parent, the gift of being able to listen without judgement would help you. And the list goes on…

So, back to the question: How do I figure out which gifts I have? I’m actually going to share some thoughts on a different question: How can I help another person determine what gifts they have? There are a lot of different ways to help someone else determine their gifts, but I’m going to focus in on one: Give genuine and specific compliments.

There are a million reasons that we should be better at sending “thank you” cards that are also complimentary, but one of the best reasons is that people often don’t realize they “have a gift” until someone says, “Wow, you’re really good at writing poetry that helps me feel closer to the Savior”, or “I really appreciated the time you took to coach my daughter in soccer. You were really patient with the girls and helped them improve a lot this season”. When a person or two points out something you are doing well, it allows you to ponder whether God has blessed you with a gift through the medium of the Holy Ghost.

Our compliments and praise, according to Elder Neal A. Maxwell, ought to be deserved and specific. When we compliment someone who didn’t really qualify for the compliment, they begin to doubt our compliments (but not our intentions, I hope!). When we compliment too generally, it looks as though we weren’t really paying attention enough to their efforts. But when someone says, “Your talk in sacrament meeting was just what I needed to hear. I’ve been struggling to find ways to improve my personal scripture study, and your three steps are something I’m going to try”, the compliment can possibly help the recipient realize that they may have a gift to communicate gospel-centered ideas.

Finally…who needs our deserved and specific compliments the most? How about those who we probably have some kind of responsibility to help determine their gifts, like our spouses, children, and friends? Of course we want to be kind to everyone, but I wonder if there are some people that Heavenly Father expects us to bless with a genuine compliment so that they might have a hint as to what He has blessed them with?

Be Encouraging…


These are my personal views, and don’t represent an official position by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints…