Lesson 32: Cultivating Gifts of the Spirit

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 122–24


Each young man will desire to use his spiritual gifts to benefit himself, his family, and others.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      Three pieces of paper and three pencils.

  2. 2.

    Prepare a closed box, or be prepared to illustrate one on the chalkboard.

  3. 3.

    Study 1 Corinthians 12; Moroni 10:8–18; and Doctrine and Covenants 46:8–29.


Spiritual gifts are given to individual members of the Church in order that all may benefit. Many young men in the Church may doubt that they have such spiritual gifts. Each young man needs to feel secure that he has been given a gift. He needs to know that through patience and diligence he can discover and develop gifts to bless his own life and the lives of those around him.

Feel free to relate experiences from your own life concerning spiritual gifts. Trust the Holy Ghost to lead you as you share such experiences.

Suggested Lesson Development



Read the following story by Matthew Cowley, who later became an Apostle. At the age of seventeen, Elder Cowley had been called on a mission to New Zealand, where he had to learn the Maori language. This is what Elder Cowley said about that experience:

“How I remember as a mere boy—I was alone for three months without a companion, not understanding the native language—how I would go into the grove every morning at six o’clock and study for eleven hours and fast and pray. Finally, within eleven or twelve weeks and all by myself with no missionary to encourage me, I had the audacity to stand up before a group of natives and preach the gospel in their own tongue. I was using words I had never read or heard, and there was a burning in my bosom the like of which I have never felt before nor since in my life. My mind was not like I was a child. The power of God was speaking through me as a youngster, seventeen years of age” (in Henry A. Smith, Matthew Cowley—Man of Faith [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954], p. 48).

Explain that this story gives an example of one of the gifts of the Spirit, or a spiritual gift.

Every Aaronic Priesthood Holder Has Been Given a Spiritual Gift

Scriptures and discussion

Have a young man read or repeat from memory the seventh article of faith. Ask a young man to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:11–12. Encourage all the young men to underline it.

  • Who is given a gift by the Spirit of God?

  • What is the purpose of the gift?

Scripture activity

Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one of the following scripture references:

Group 1: 1 Corinthians 12:4–11

Group 2: Moroni 10:8–18

Group 3: Doctrine and Covenants 46:8–29

Give a piece of paper and a pencil to each group, and ask the young men to make a list of the spiritual gifts found in their reference. Encourage the young men to underline the references in their scriptures. After the young men have finished making their lists, write the various spiritual gifts on the chalkboard as they read them from their lists. It is not necessary to list each spiritual gift more than once. However, you may wish to point out the number of times each gift is mentioned.

The following list may be helpful as you discuss spiritual gifts:

  • Revelation

  • Testimony

  • Judgment

  • Knowledge

  • Wisdom

  • Teaching

  • Exhortation

  • Preaching

  • Faith to heal

  • Faith to be healed

  • Miracles

  • Prophecy

  • Visions

  • Discernment of spirits

  • Speaking with tongues

  • Interpretation of tongues

Each Young Man Can Know What His Spiritual Gifts Are

Object lesson and discussion

Place the box you have brought on a table or chair at the front of the classroom, or draw an illustration of a box on the chalkboard.

  • What are two ways you could find out what is in this box? (Possible responses: open the box, ask the person who prepared the box.)

In much the same way we can discover our spiritual gifts.

  • How can you discover which spiritual gifts you now have or will be given? (Through experience—opening the box; or revelation—asking the one who prepared the gift.)

  • What are some specific ways we can discover our gifts? (Possible responses include pray and fast; obtain and read often our patriarchal blessing, which may indicate spiritual gifts; observe what seems to come naturally to us; accept calls that come from priesthood leaders; notice compliments we receive from others; obtain a father’s blessing.)

Point out that each young man’s spiritual gifts may not be apparent at this time. They may also be given other spiritual gifts, as the need arises. If you used the story of Matthew Cowley, point out that he was seventeen before he was blessed with the gift of tongues. This came through faith, fasting, and prayer, and because the Lord needed Elder Cowley to have the gift at that time.

Spiritual Gifts Are Given for Our Benefit as Well as Others’

Stories and discussion

There will not be time to discuss each gift in depth. Spend a few minutes talking about the gifts in the following stories. After each, discuss the following questions:

  1. 1.

    What gift was given?

  2. 2.

    How did the person who had the gift benefit?

  3. 3.

    What benefit did others receive?

Gift of Prophecy

Reed Smoot, a United States senator from Utah from 1903 to 1933, was a small boy when he heard Brigham Young make a prophecy that was literally fulfilled years later.

“Brigham Young came to Provo, and, at a conference meeting, said that the day would come when the human voice could be heard from New York to San Francisco. …

“Reed’s mother had taken him to this meeting, and on the way home he said (referring to what President Brigham Young had said), ‘Now that’s a big lie. That’s absolutely impossible. It couldn’t be.’ His mother, who was a woman of very great faith, told her son, ‘Yes, you’ll live to see the fulfillment of what the President has said today.’ He did not believe it. Time went by and while he was in the United States Senate, a broadcasting system was built so you could speak from New York to San Francisco. One of his colleagues in the Senate had charge of this enterprise and when it was completed and they were to celebrate the event, he invited Senator Smoot to come to New York City and be the first man to speak over the completed network, which he did, and his voice was heard clearly and distinctly across the continent.

“Thus he lived to literally fulfill the promise by President Brigham Young in Provo years before” (Bryant S. Hinckley, The Faith of Our Pioneer Fathers [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1956], p. 207).

The Gift of Faith to Be Healed

The following story tells of a Dutch young man’s faith to be healed during the visit of President Joseph F. Smith to Holland in 1906:

“It was on the 7th day of August, 1906, that President Smith and party arrived in Rotterdam, having come from the boat in Antwerp two days before. There was living in that city a boy of eleven years of age, John Roothoff by name, who had suffered greatly for a number of years with his eyes. His mother was a faithful member of the Church as also was the boy, who was slowly losing his sight and was unable to attend school. The boy said to his mother: ‘The Prophet has the most power of any missionary on earth. If you will take me with you to meeting and he will look into my eyes I believe they will be healed.’ According to his desire he was permitted to accompany his mother to the meeting. At the close of the meeting, as was the custom, President Smith moved towards the door and began to shake hands and speak encouragingly to the people as they passed from the hall. As John Roothoff approached him, led by his mother and his eyes bandaged, President Smith took him by the hand and spoke to him kindly. He then raised the bandage slightly and looked sympathetically into the inflamed eyes, at the same time saying something in English which the boy did not understand. However, he was satisfied. President Smith had acted according to the boy’s faith; and according to his faith it came to pass. When he arrived home, he cried out with joy: ‘Mama, my eyes are well; I cannot feel any more pain. I can see fine now, and far too.’ Following this event the boy was able to attend school again” (Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Life of Joseph F. Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1938], p. 397).

The Gift of Testimony

The following story tells of how two young men were blessed with a testimony of the gospel.

“One day [my friend] Don called to say that [our stake president] was willing to hire us for the summer to work as miners in his uranium mine near Uravan, Colorado. I readily accepted. …

“The work was demanding, but we enjoyed it, and on Saturday we … headed back to Grand Junction to attend church. On the way Don asked, ‘Bob, do you have a testimony?’

“I shook my head. ‘No, I don’t think so.’

“‘Have you ever read the Book of Mormon?’


“‘Neither have I,’ he said. ‘Why don’t we read it together and see if we can gain a testimony?’

“That sounded good to me, and so when we returned to Uravan late Sunday night, we both had a paperback copy of the Book of Mormon. Each day after work we spent an hour or two reading, discussing, and praying about what we had read.

“One evening, as we were nearing the end of the Book of Mormon, Don and I prayed together as usual, then each of us knelt and prayed silently. That night I prayed more earnestly than I had ever before to know if the Book of Mormon was true.

“Suddenly an indescribable feeling came over me, a cleansing sensation, as if my spirit were being washed, purged, and purified. The sensation was so powerful that I opened my eyes and looked up, almost expecting to see heavenly personages. But my eyes blurred, and tears flowed down my cheeks.

“Embarrassed, I turned to see if Don was still praying. I was startled to see that tears were also running down his cheeks.

“‘What’s the matter with you?’ I asked.

“‘The same thing that’s the matter with you.’

“That night … I discovered that the Church is true, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that the Lord answers prayers” (Robert M. Hogge, “A Friend in Christ,” Ensign, Oct. 1992, pp. 25–26).


“Our gifts and opportunities differ; some are more visible. … We all have at least one gift and an open invitation to seek ‘earnestly the best gifts.’ (D&C 46:8)” (Neal A. Maxwell, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 15; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 14).

  • We have been encouraged to seek “earnestly the best gifts.” How might we go about seeking them?

Possible answers may include—

  1. 1.

    Ask for the gift through prayer.

  2. 2.

    Fast for the gift.

  3. 3.

    Study about the gift in messages of Church leaders.

  4. 4.

    Practice using the gift.

  5. 5.

    Observe those who possess the gift.

  6. 6.

    Obey the commandments and exercise the gifts we already have.

  7. 7.

    Have faith that the Lord will give us the gift.

  8. 8.

    Serve others.



“[The purpose of spiritual gifts] is to enlighten, encourage, and edify the faithful so that they will inherit peace in this life and be guided toward eternal life in the world to come. Their presence is proof of the divinity of the Lord’s work; where they are not found, there the Church and kingdom of God is not. The promise is that they shall never be done away as long as the earth continues in its present state, except for unbelief (Moro. 10:19)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], p. 314).

Testimony and challenge

Bear your testimony, and share your feelings about spiritual gifts. Challenge the young men to—

  1. 1.

    Seek to discover what spiritual gifts they have been given.

  2. 2.

    Discuss their feelings about spiritual gifts with Heavenly Father.

  3. 3.

    Discuss their feelings about spiritual gifts with their parents.

  4. 4.

    Recognize and appreciate the spiritual gifts that are given to others.