Each of us progresses in the gospel at our own speed and in our own time. We build "line upon line, precept upon precept," in our spiritual lives. Each day affords us an opportunity to grow and to receive inspiration for our particular callings or for our family responsibilities. As we reflect upon those efforts, we should ponder those things that bring us closer to the Lord and to the Spirit.
No one lives closer to the Lord than those in full-time Church service. The spiritual reservoirs waiting to be tapped each day allow missionaries and our leaders a wealth of insight into the Lord's work and what each of us needs to do to accomplish our small part in it.
In an address to missionaries in Guatemala in 1997, President Gordon B. Hinckley suggested 10 gifts the missionaries could gain from their experiences in full-time Church service. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 363-364). And while these spiritual gifts are aimed specifically at missionaries, all Church members would do well to emulate them.
"1. A knowledge and love of God our Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ. . . . Make that the No. 1 gift you carry home." Each of us must come to our own testimony of the Savior's divine mission and how the Atonement works in our lives. As President Hinckley remarked, it is the No. 1 gift we need.
"2. A knowledge and love for the scriptures. Continue to read them. . . . Read the Book of Mormon the rest of your life." Each of us would do well to take the time each day to sup from the scriptures and study the words of the prophets. As we do so, we gain insights into our own situations and can better deal with the day-to-day demands we face.
"3. An increased love for parents. . . . You have learned to appreciate them. . . . Tell them so." We need to honor our parents by telling them how much we love and respect them, even if we may have fallen short in their eyes. As we reflect on our parents' gifts to us, we should also remember our ancestors and what they sacrificed on our behalf. An increased desire to complete temple ordinances on their behalf leads to a love of family and secures the eternal bond between the generations.
"4. A love for the people among whom you labor." Each of us needs to show greater love for those around us, whether we can introduce them to the gospel or simply help them in other ways. All are our Heavenly Father's children as difficult as that concept may seem at times and each deserves our best self.
"5. An appreciation for hard work. Nothing happens unless we work." Throughout his life, President Hinckley has been an untiring example of work. No task has been too difficult, no calling too vast, but that he has lent his shoulder to moving the Church forward on many fronts. We would all do well to try to keep pace with him.
"6. The assurance that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is available to each of us when we live for it. Listen for the whisperings of the Spirit and follow those whisperings." Those still small whisperings can lead us in the right paths and allow us to accomplish much, if we will obey and follow their guidance.
"7. An understanding of teamwork. Don't look for (your companion's) faults, look for his virtues and try to bring those virtues into your life." Each of us in our callings in quorums or auxiliaries knows we need one another to be successful. We rely on others to help us accomplish our own task, and should freely give of ourselves to help others succeed, too. We need to rise above the urge to criticize and work to see the larger picture.
"8. The value of personal virtue. There is no room for evil thoughts in your lives." As the world grows more polarized between the forces of good and the forces of evil, we need to make sure we are on the right side of this fight. We can only do that by practicing the highest standard of conduct, by instilling in our children a desire to accomplish their missions here and by staying close to the Lord in all that we do.
"9. The faith to act." When we are assured of our purpose, we should move ahead and not delay.
"10. The humility to pray. There is power greater than any of us that is available to us. The Lord will bless us. He will guide us. He will magnify us. He will lead us to those who will accept the truth. He will protect us if we will listen to the still small voice and follow it."
As President Hinckley remarked: Prayer is our passageway to the throne of the divine, and if we are teachable, willing to listen and mindful of our fellow brothers' and sisters' needs, we can accomplish much.