It was with some reluctance that a father recently sat through a piano recital. He had many things to do that Saturday afternoon, and listening to other people's children play the piano was not necessarily one of them.
But his daughter was scheduled to perform, and his wife had convinced him that it wasn't good enough for her to attend alone as she had done many times before.During the recital, his mind wandered and occasionally he focused on some of the chores that he felt he should be doing. Then his daughter's name was announced.
She arose, slightly nervous, but was poised as she made her way toward the piano. In her best dress with lace, ruffles, and a pink bow, she had never looked lovelier to him.
As she sat at the keyboard and began playing, the father suddenly forgot about everything else in the world. This was his daughter, his own flesh and blood, and she was producing beautiful music at the piano. This was no longer a routine recital, this was a premier performance. As the music ended and the other parents applauded politely, he clapped on, turning to the person next to him and exclaiming, "Isn't she wonderful! She's my daughter."
From that point on, piano lessons and practicing became more important because the girl's father took a new interest in what she was doing with her talents. His encouragement and his new-found pride in her achievements made it worthwhile for her to try harder.
Although developing our talents is a personal responsibility, it is always easier when others offer encouragement or incentives.
S uch a message was given when the Savior taught His disciples the parable of the talents. (See Matt. 25:15-30)
Several were given varying talents and offered incentives to develop or increase what they had received. When the Lord of the servants returned for an accounting, those who had magnified whatever they had received were praised and promised more. Only he who hid his talent was rebuked and left with nothing.
Such was also the message to the early saints of this dispensation when the Lord said through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
"But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talents which I have given unto them, because of the fear of men. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them. And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have. (D&C 60:2-3.)
It is a part of a parent's responsibility to help children develop their talents, along with helping in their educational and social growth. Most children need a lot of encouragement, particularly the kind that comes from loving parents.
T his usually means that parents will have to sacrifice some of their own personal pleasures, including large amounts of time and patience to get children to lessons, to see that they practice musical instruments, or to help them learn to dance, draw, paint, write or perform.
Few children will ever become talented professionals, but that is not really the major goal. If there are to be ward organists in a decade or two, or choir directors, roadshow writers, or scenery painters, they must be taught now as children. Mission presidents are always hoping that among their missionaries there will be piano players. A growing Church needs good teachers who have developed their abilities to serve in the classroom.
Parents should take time to help their children discover whatever talents they may have, and then work with them and encourage them by providing proper incentives for growth and development. Such loving parental prodding is also a talent as well, and will certainly be rewarded many times over, for the Lord has said of the managing of responsibilities:
"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 talents, yea, even an hundred fold. . . ." (D&C 82:18)