4 Keys to Unlocking Skills You Never Knew You Could Have

“4 Keys to Unlocking Skills You Never Knew You Could Have,” Ensign, March 2018

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4 Keys to Unlocking Skills You Never Knew You Could Have

The Lord does not just guide us in spiritual matters—He can teach us everyday skills as well.

In the Mormon Message “Become,” Clark Manmureen tells his story of finding success after his father passed away when he was 11, and he lost his mother three years later. To achieve most success, Clark had to take initiative. To earn money for college, Clark started a landscaping company. In a few years, he was able to pay for all of his undergraduate degree with the money he earned.

After two years working as a general contractor, Clark decided to start his own company. During this time, he was faced with many challenges that required him to learn something new or difficult. He relied heavily on Heavenly Father to help him learn the skills he needed in his fledgling business. Today he thanks the Lord for the success of his business. “The Spirit is not only there to teach you spiritual things,” Clark says. “It’s there to help you learn skills.”

Is that true? Can the Lord really help you learn temporal skills as well as spiritual skills?

Thousands of years earlier, another young man learned a similar lesson. While in the land of Bountiful, after more than eight years of wandering in the wilderness, Nephi was instructed by the Lord to construct a ship “after the manner which I shall show thee” (1 Nephi 17:8) to cross the ocean to the Americas (see 1 Nephi 17).

Nephi was faced with a monumental challenge. Jerusalem, where Nephi was raised for most of his life, is landlocked, and although Nephi may have seen a few boats in his years of traveling through the wilderness, it is unlikely that he knew anything about ship construction, nor did he have the skills or tools to make the intricate craft.

But Nephi immediately followed the Lord’s command, asking where he could find ore to make the necessary tools to construct the ship in the way the Lord had shown him (see 1 Nephi 17:9). Because of Nephi’s faith, the Lord taught him the necessary skills and helped him create a ship that he and his family used to sail to the Americas.

Both Clark and Nephi’s experiences demonstrate the Lord’s ability to help His children not just spiritually but also temporally. Here are a few ways you can access new practical skills with Heavenly Father’s help:

  1. Offer frequent and sincere prayers. While building the ship, Nephi “[prayed] oft unto the Lord” (1 Nephi 18:3) in order to be shown each step and receive revelation. Clark likewise utilized prayer as he started his business. “There were moments on one of the jobs that I just had to say a prayer,” Clark recalls. “I said, ‘Help me figure this out. I don’t know what to do.’ And sure enough, within the next couple of hours, I was able to solve the problem, and it was fixed.” As we pray to the Lord for help in developing a specific practical skill, He will give us the direction we need.

  2. Show humility. The Lord’s way of constructing a ship was different from the way that most boats were constructed in Nephi’s time. Nephi writes, “I … did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by man, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me” (1 Nephi 18:2). In this, Nephi’s lack of formal training in boat construction actually benefited him. It forced him to approach the Lord in humility instead of leaning “unto [his] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Of his own experiences, Clark says, “Relying on Heavenly Father to help you through [challenges]—it’s humbling. It’s hard knowing that you’re not always in control. But He has better plans.”

  3. Be patient. Skills do not come immediately, even with the Lord’s help. Nephi likely confronted many trials as he built the ship, because he had to “go into the mount oft” (1 Nephi 18:3) to commune with the Lord. When starting his company, Clark likewise faced many challenges. “You make mistakes,” Clark says. “Through trial and error, you figure out what works best, what you need to change.” When you’re patient through times of trial and continue to return to the Lord for assistance, it allows Him to teach you the necessary skills in His time and His way.

  4. Be willing to work. The Lord can’t help us develop skills if we aren’t willing to help ourselves. Both Clark and Nephi worked hard to achieve their goals. Nephi had to build much of the ship on his own, and Clark put long hours of work into his job to reach his goals. “Being self-reliant spiritually is relying on Heavenly Father. You’re doing your best and then allowing Him to do the rest.”

Both Clark and Nephi’s most exceptional quality is not their work ethic but their ability to rely on the Lord in all things, temporal and spiritual. Their examples clearly demonstrate the principle in Psalm 25:5: “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” If you exercise faith, put forth effort, and seek the Lord’s help in your good endeavors, He will help you succeed.