Good morning, my dear friends. I am humbled to stand before you today and share some of my thoughts and feelings. I am grateful that you have chosen to attend devotional today, and I pray that there is something in my remarks that you will find uplifting and useful.
It’s been just over two years since I started my employment at LDS Business College, and in that time, I’ve met with hundreds of students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds. What has fascinated me the most are your stories of how you came to be at LDS Business College. I have lost count of the number of times that I have asked, “What brought you to LDSBC?” Many of you have relayed that you felt impressed by the Spirit to come here. Others were encouraged by mission presidents, mission companions, family members or friends. Some of you are looking to update a skill set and move up in your career, or to pursue a new career entirely, and some are looking for a path to a four-year degree and beyond. One thing that each and every one of you have in common, is that you have all taken a leap of faith in which your opportunities are endless and your potential is unmatched.
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a co-worker and we were discussing the phrase “the chosen generation” and how we had each heard that statement beginning when we were young. We agreed that we had thought that being “chosen” applied only to us and we believed that, in some way, it made us special, but that now it was also being told to our children. How could both generations be “chosen?” In her wisdom, my co-worker stated, “Yes, we are all chosen, but chosen to do what?" I have pondered that question for the last few weeks and it has led to more questions, such as what am I here to do? What are we here to do? Why were we saved for this time and why now? Have you ever thought about, or realized, that we have waited our entire existence for this opportunity? And now, here we are. Isn’t that an exciting thought? What is even more amazing is that we have a loving and all-knowing Heavenly Father who knows each of us so well that He sent us to Earth during the time that we could shine; during the time that we would have the resources available to us to accomplish the mission He sent us here to do. Right now, through the miracle of technology, the world is literally at our fingertips. We have access to places and information that would have been impossible just 100 years ago. So, I ask again, why us, and why now? Why are we blessed with so much knowledge? The answer lies in Luke 12:48 “…For unto whomsoever much is given , of him shall be much required …” To be here, during this moment in the dispensation of the fullness of times, it is very apparent that to all of us “…much has been given.”
I want to discuss three key words in this scripture: Much, Given and Required. In the footnotes, these three words are defined as follows:
- Much = Talents
- Given = Stewardship
- Required = Accountability, Duty
Let’s take a look at each one individually.
Much = Talents
If we have been given much, as it says in Luke, then according to the footnote, we all have been given talents, or gifts of the Spirit. D&C 48:11-12 & teaches us “…for there are many gifts, and to every man 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.”
Our loving Heavenly Father has given each one of us the gifts that will help us throughout our lives. In addition, through study and diligence we can obtain other gifts to further bless our lives. Our gifts, however, are not only for us. The end of verse 12 specifies “…that ALL may be profited thereby.” I would like you to think about the following two questions for a moment: Have you been the benefactor of another’s spiritual gifts? Have your gifts helped a friend, family member or even a stranger? I feel that I can say with 100% certainty that the answers to my last two questions are both, yes. How do I know? Because after listing many gifts of the Spirit in the preceding verses, verse 48 teaches us “And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God (emphasis added).” Sometimes we may wonder how can we recognize our gifts if they may not be specifically mentioned in scripture? Marvin J. Ashton , in the October 1987 General Conference stated: “…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...: 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 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.”
You may not always be aware when one of your gifts blesses another, but when you follow the commandments of God and magnify your spiritual gifts, you bless the lives of those around you every day. I know that you bless mine, and I have seen you deliver blessings that others have been praying for.
Given = Stewardship
If you think about it, our Heavenly Father has put a great deal of trust and faith in His children. In the premortal life, He created and raised us, taught us the things we should know, allowed us to choose for ourselves which plan to follow and then sent us into this world to learn and grow; hoping and praying every second that we would use our agency to choose the right, remember who we are and what we stand for and that we will return safely home. He has given us stewardship over many things in this life that are an enormous responsibility, for example, this world and His church. Another part of our stewardship is our agency. The ability to choose for ourselves is truly an amazing gift and one that requires wisdom in its use.
Sister Sharon G. Larsen said this about agency: “Agency is the power to think, choose, and act for ourselves. It comes with endless opportunities, accompanied by responsibility and consequences. It is a blessing and a burden. Using this gift of agency wisely is critical today because never in the world’s history have God’s children been so blessed or so blatantly confronted with so many choices.”
Sister Larsen is correct – we are faced with so many choices on a daily basis, that we must become wise stewards if we are to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal happiness.
In the parable of the talents, a man had given each of his three servants stewardship over a sum of talents prior to traveling to another country. Upon his return, he asked his servants to report on the stewardship he’d entrusted them with. Two of his servants multiplied the talents they were given and were blessed with additional talents. The third, as we all know, hid the talent for fear he would lose it and that his master would be angry with him. Well, the master was angry with his servant, took the talent from him and gave it to the first, rebuking the third as an unprofitable servant. We can learn from this parable that we need to become wise stewards over those things that we are given responsibility for.
When we follow the example of the Lord and keep His commandments, and if we multiply the gifts we have been given and use them to build up the kingdom of God on this earth, God will count us among His wise stewards.
Let’s apply this parable to your education at LDSBC. Each of you have been given the opportunity to study and obtain a degree that will bless you throughout your life. How do you approach this gift, or “talent,” if you will? Do you multiply it by attending all your classes, completing your assignments and submitting them when they are due? Do you study the concepts that are more difficult so as to increase your understanding and grasp of the subject? Do you participate meaningfully in class discussions and teach those around you who may be struggling? Or do you take your talent and “hide it in the earth” where it cannot grow?
The night before my oldest son left on his mission, we met with the stake president ,and he was set apart as a missionary. After this was done, our stake president gave each of us an opportunity to give my son some words of advice. I remember my mom telling him that these two years were his offering to the Lord – his ‘tithing’ in a sense, for the blessing of the time he’d lived thus far on this earth. She said, “You may never have this time again to devote all of your efforts to the Lord. Use it well.” Her comment struck me, and I realized that the gift of time is something that we can never get back. Right now, is the time that you have been blessed with to gain your education. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “…do not squander time, for that is the stuff that life is made of.”
In a recent All-Hands meeting with President Kusch, he shared the five-year plan for Ensign College. In that plan, this promise stood out to me – especially since I knew I would be speaking to you today. It reads: “As each learner discovers their potential, they are enabled with power to act and grow; to become valuable employees, life long learners, and leaders in their homes, the Church and in their communities.” This wonderful blessing awaits all who strive to become a wise steward during the time they spend here. Please use every moment wisely. The lessons you learn here will be the ones you draw on throughout your life.
As we learned in the parable of the talents, each one of us will be held accountable for our stewardship over the gifts that we have been given. When we think of accountability, sometimes it can seem very intimidating and even harsh at times. Accountability can be receiving a poor grade on an assignment - hastily finished when the choice was made to spend time doing other things. It can also be a tough conversation when expectations have not been met or opportunities have been lost due to our procrastination or indecision. However, what we should also remember in the parable of the talents is that each servant was given a different stewardship, as it says in Matthew 25:15 “…according to his several ability.” The servant who was given two talents was not rebuked because he didn’t produce 10 talents like the first servant when his master returned; the blessing and joy of their master was the same, even though their level of return was different. They were each told, “Well done, thou 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.”
Accountability is an opportunity to give a report of our individual progression and review and renew our potential for growth. If, during this review, we find that we might not be as “profitable” a servant as we could be, it is then that repentance can bring about a mighty change of heart so that we can once again, as it says in Alma 5:14-16, “…receive his image in [our] countenance…[and] look forward with an eye of faith…to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body… [That you will] hear the voice of the Lord saying unto you, in that day: come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth.”
My dear friends, we are all chosen – chosen individually to do great things and fulfill our own earthly missions – chosen to use this time to expand our minds and hearts and to become capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ – chosen to be on earth at this precise time when opportunities abound to go forth with faith to bring others unto Christ – chosen to become stewards who will build the kingdom of God on the earth, and chosen for this time, because the Lord knows He can count on us to do His work. Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.