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Read more from Annette on her blog, Annette Talks.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing LDS comedian Steve Soelberg when he was in town for his show with Dry Bar Comedy. (For those of you not familiar with Dry Bar, they are a fairly clean comedy show that bills itself as “Funny for Everyone.”) Steve was kind enough to spend an hour chatting with me for my podcast (listen to the episode here: https://annettetalks.com/lds-unmarried-life-podcast-steve-soelberg-interview/). We talked about his career, what it’s like to be single in the Church, and his dating life.
Steve had a lot of funny stories, but the following is the one the struck me the most. Probably because I related so strongly to it. When Steve was in college he performed in musicals and other productions but after college and before he embarked on his comedy career, he missed having an audience and so found himself doing something kind of silly for attention. He apparently learned how to sing in ‘belting’ style. One time he came home to find his roommate with a date in the dining room. He went over to them and said “Look what I learned how to do!” He then proceeded to belt out a song for them, which they politely thanked him for. Looking back on this situation years later, he realized that he missed performing and that the need to perform was bubbling up in awkward ways. This told him that he needed to find an outlet for this need. He needed to pursue this passion to perform. He had a talent that was being neglected.
I related to this because a while back I had been feeling a need to perform as well. It hit home when I moved to a new ward and lost my gospel doctrine instructor calling. After a few months of not teaching that class I realized, “Hey! I really miss being in front of people!” Fortunately our stake restructured and my new bishopric gave me my calling back! I have since found other ways to be heard, such as my podcast. I also re-discovered writing and wrote a book and articles such as this one. My old passions and talents have been bubbling back up in my life over the past few years since my divorce. For me, reassessing my life reminded me of needs that have gone unmet for several years. I’m now exploring those needs and developing talents which have remained dormant.
We know from the parable of the talents that when we fail to use our talents, we may lose them. “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Matthew 25:29). Based on Steve’s and my experiences, sometimes our ignored talents will pop up and remind us that they are there, waiting for us to develop and share them.
We have been commanded to not ignore our talents: “…I give unto them a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.” This scripture helps me to remember that my talents are not just something to develop if I have some free time to get around to them. I am commanded to develop them.
And they aren’t just for my own benefit. “For the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talents, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold” (D&C 82:18). It seems clear to me that our talents were given to us for a few reasons. First: to benefit the church; Second: to benefit others; Third: to give us joy. I believe that the greatest gifts that we have to give are our fully-developed talents. I think that is what it means, in part, to ‘fill the measure of our creation.’
If I don’t share my talents, someone is missing out on what I could have created, performed, or shared. If you don’t share yours, someone else is missing out. What if there is someone right now in need of something that you could share with them? Are you ready? Have you developed the talent to do whatever it is that will help that person? Be it performing, writing, athletic ability, teaching, cooking, painting, sewing, crafting, spiritual gifts such as bearing testimony or lifting the head that hangs down. The list goes on and on.
We are given these talents for a reason! A few examples. I learned some valuable parenting skills several months ago through reading an excellent parenting book and putting the tools I learned to use. I then decided to write about the tools and my success using them. I had some friends read my article and put those skills to use for the good of their families. My writing ability and my new-found parenting skills were helpful to someone else because I shared. The book I read was written by a talented psychologist and author who developed and shared her talents. My children were blessed, I was blessed, and my friends were blessed.
And then there’s Studio C. Those are some seriously talented actors and actresses. They have lifted my spirits more times than I can count. Or the many books that I’ve read over the years which have entertained, educated, and delighted me! Had those authors not developed and shared their talents, my life would have been much less rich. I’m sure if you think about it you can come up with a long list of talented folks who have enriched your life through the sharing of their talents. Imagine if they had ignored their talents.
So I thank Steve Soelberg both for developing his comedy talent and sharing it with the world, and for sharing his experiences with me and reminding me that ignored talents will pop up and remind me of their existence. I’m grateful when that happens as it means I’m being given another chance. It’s a reminder that I have God-given gifts that I can be developing, enjoying, and sharing. I would much rather be reminded that they exist, than have them go away because I neglected them for too long. I know that we are all talented in many ways. It’s our duty to find those talents, cultivate them, and share them with the world.