Gathering with family for the Christmas holiday, 6-year-old Ainsley, the granddaughter of Brigham Young University President Kevin J. Worthen and Sister Peggy S. Worthen, was always willing to say a prayer to bless the food. But each time she prayed, she included a simple phrase, "please bless me with the gift of honesty."
When her grandmother, Sister Worthen, inquired of Ainsley as to why she was praying for that particular gift, Ainsley admitted that she was having a problem with telling the truth and that her father advised her to pray for help to overcome her challenges.
"She excitedly told me that since she has been praying for the gift of honesty, she is doing much better at telling the truth," Sister Worthen told BYU students gathered in the Marriott Center. "Not only is she gaining the gift of honesty through her earnest plea for help, she is gaining the gift of faith in knowing that her prayers will be answered as she puts her trust in Heavenly Father."
Sister Worthen's story encompassed the two main themes that she and her husband shared as they spoke to students on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during the first devotional of the new semester.
Whether they are obvious or not, "we have all been given gifts and talents," Sister Worthen said. Such gifts are meant to bless the lives of each person as well as those around them, but in order to do so, they need to be discovered and developed.
Sister Worthen challenged the audience to "seek to discover and develop previously undiscovered gifts (they) may possess."
While some gifts may be more evident than others, all spiritual gifts are real and valuable, she said.
Suggesting some of the ways people can seek to find and develop their talents, Sister Worthen said it is important to pray and ask God for help in discovering and developing their individual spiritual gifts.
"Earnestly seeking to know what gifts we need by asking God will often help us discover and develop previously unknown gifts that God is willing to bless us with," she said.
Another key part of discovering or gaining spiritual gifts is the requirement to share them with others.
"Our gifts are given to benefit others," she noted. "As we look for opportunities to uplift and bless others, we will likely find new gifts and talents that were lying dormant just waiting to be discovered through service."
Each person will be given and will discover different gifts with which God has prepared and blessed them, she noted. As such, it is important not to compare one's gifts with those that others might possess. To so do is a disservice to one's self as well as to God and his blessings.
"Do you know who you are?" President Worthen inquired as he began his address. "This question may be more complicated than it at first appears."
The answer to such a question can vary from time to time and place to place depending on who asks and a person's circumstances when it is asked, he said. "But what if you had to fully identify yourself in a single sentence? Could you, in one sentence, describe yourself in a way that would be accurate in whatever circumstances and whatever stage of life you might find yourself?"
Prophets and Apostles have provided such an answer, he said, quoting a statement from The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
"Each (of us) is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny," he said, noting that it is likely a statement familiar to most members of the Church. "Yet, I wonder if familiarity has caused us to overlook the depth, breadth and power of the truths this identity statement contains."
Recognition of the true meaning of such a profound statement can help shape a person's life for the better, he explained. "Understanding that we are children of Heavenly Parents — sharing their divine nature, and possessing the potential to be like them — can bring great power into our lives."
As President Worthen pointed out, "beloved" and "destiny" are two key words in the statement that hold great importance for the true identities of every living person. With the first, "beloved," President Worthen said it is important to recognize that God loves each person more than they can possibly comprehend. God's love is perfect and goes far beyond the love that living persons understand and experience in this life. It is therefore a disservice to God to equate His love with a mortal understanding of love, he said.
With the second, "destiny," he explained that every living person has the power, the divine destiny, to become like their Heavenly Parents and that an understanding of such a destiny can transform and empower each person throughout their lives. In concluding his address, President Worthen suggested three things people can do to "retain, or regain, the eternal perspective that changes the knowledge of our potential from a burden into a blessing."
- "We need to recognize and remember that we are not alone in our struggles."
- "We need to be more patient with the process. We need to worry less about the speed at which we are moving and more about the direction."
- "When we are feeling overwhelmed in our quest for perfection, we need to return to the first truth in the identity sentence of the Family Proclamation. We are beloved sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents. God loves us."
As children of loving Heavenly Parents, each person can pray to their Father in Heaven and ask for help. President and Sister Worthen reminded students as they begin a new semester that they can ask for help to know they are loved, ask for help to know who they are, and earnestly ask for help to grow in a way that will help them realize their individual divine destinies. And, much like how He helped a small 6-year-old girl to improve in being more honest, God will help each of His children as they earnestly seek His help and guidance.