The other day I had the fortunate opportunity to talk with some youth about gifts, or talents and skills. I always enjoy discussions with the youth as they often offer a new perspective. Gifts, as defined by our conversation, were things such as the following: being a good listener, asking good questions, being agreeable, not passing judgment, caring for others, avoiding contention, being able to ponder, being teachable, being a teacher, having charity, being committed, etc.
Our discussion led me to remember a story I had heard about a farmer who grew an award-winning crop every year. When this farmer was asked what his secret was, he responded by saying, “I make sure the farmers in the surrounding area know how to grow the same outstanding crop.” Confused, the interviewer said, “You share your secrets with your neighbors?” “Of course,” was this farmer’s response, stating, “There is no way to grow a successful crop if your neighbors are growing an inferior product. You see, if the neighbor’s crop is of a substandard quality, then when the winds blow or the bees hum, your crop is pollinated by the lesser plant. You then have no way of achieving greatness.”
The kids were excited about how this farmer shared his gift of farming. As he did so, the farmer, too, was rewarded by providing his neighbors with new knowledge. We began to discover that within society there is a “scarcity attitude,” where those with ability often withhold their skills in an effort to stand out. When these gifts are hidden, they don’t develop and are often lost; on the other hand, by expanding and sharing, the teacher (those willing to share) is taught and gains even greater ability.
We talked about how, as a group, each of us has a different skill set, and that by sharing with each other, we were stronger as a whole. No one in the group felt as though they had enough individual talent to stand-alone without help from others. In a society where there is tremendous opportunity, you find participation by individuals assisting those who struggle. These growth societies have individuals who share the gifts that come naturally to them. By sharing, they enhance their skill set, developing existing gifts and learning new ones while teaching. When you share, you learn; when you learn, you grow; and when you grow, you develop additional gifts. The way in which we become our best individually is by enabling others, which makes for a better world.
As we left the discussion I challenged these young adults to develop themselves by developing others. I felt gratitude toward those in my life who have shared with me their skills and had hope that I had likewise reciprocated with my skill set. May we be blessed to understand the great loss of being unwilling to share and the extraordinary benefit of magnification derived from teaching or showing by example. What a great world we could be by understanding this small, yet profound, idea.