I was 16 the first time I made a proper cake. The batter wasn’t from a box. The frosting wasn’t from a can. It involved home-milled flour and fluffy frosting and syrup-soaked sponges. I experienced the unexpected satisfaction of creaming together sugar and butter and eggs. It unlocked a previously absent love of baking in me.
My older sister had always worn the baker’s apron in our family, so to speak, but once she moved out, the mantle fell to me—meaning we didn’t eat a lot of baked goods (though I do make a mean batch of brownies, if I do say so myself).
But even once I found this hidden passion, I still wasn’t able to make cakes all the time. One obstacle was that my little family of three would never eat the whole thing. But at some point, as I was drooling over a gorgeous scone recipe on Pinterest, my mom suggested I make them and share them with the brethren. Of course! It seemed so obvious.
That inhibition gone, I released my inner Best-Baker-in-America contender. Carrot cakes with browned-butter cinnamon cream-cheese frosting. Pistachio honey cake with mascarpone and strawberries. I even got to make the pcg anniversary cake for my congregation. It was more than the pleasure of baking; I received the additional—and more powerful—satisfaction of seeing others enjoy it.
Since then, I’ve come to college, where my baking resources are more limited, but I still enjoy trying new recipes and experimenting, and now I’m surrounded by dozens of people who are more than happy to share in the experience. It is still a way I have found to serve my friends and family.
It is not necessarily my intent to prompt you to bake cakes for everyone you know (though that works too), but rather to help you see the service opportunities that your own hobbies and interests afford you. If I were to rank my interests, I don’t think baking would make the top five. I don’t even consider myself to be particularly good at it. But it is something I enjoy, and it is something that I have been able to use to serve others, whether for events or just by bringing them a slice of joy (which tastes like yellow cake with fig preserves and Swiss merengue, in case you were wondering).
We all have talents we can use to serve others, even if you don’t consider yourself particularly good at them. That’s exactly why God gave them to us. He wants us to develop our talents and abilities as we are often encouraged, so we can better serve the God Family.
But you don’t have to wait until that talent is perfected. A 2006 True Education article, “Discover and Develop Your Hidden Talents,” says: “Remember, you may not be awesome at doing something—but if you really enjoy it and find yourself doing it often, you might be able to develop that potential talent into an actual skill.” Practice is a key way to develop your interests into skills, and one way to practice is by using those interests to serve the God Family.
Interested in photography? You could offer to take pictures at a congregational activity. Enjoy drawing? You could make sketches for brethren or give a child drawing lessons. Read music or play an instrument? You could learn to play hymns or perform special music. Play sports? You could organize games for the congregation or offer to teach someone’s children to play. You could gift baked treats to families or elderly brethren in your congregation. I have friends who have rebound brethren’s Bibles, made portraits for couples’ anniversaries, designed flower arrangements, done hand-lettered signs or carved wooden keepsakes.
If your eyes are open to it, your hobbies can be opportunities to serve your friends, your congregation and your family.