By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Education is important to us all. It is how we prepare for the future, but it is also how we enrich our lives now. I love to learn. There are so many interesting things to study. There is the gospel--scriptures and words of prophets and church history--so much depth and breadth. There is secular learning--history, science, math, literature, languages, and so forth--also with much depth and breadth. So how do we prioritize our study?

I find good counsel in a talk given by then Elder Henry B. Eyring called "Education for Real Life". I hope you will read the entire talk. One thing he says is:
It is clear that our first priority should go to spiritual learning. For us, reading the scriptures would come before reading history books. Prayer would come before memorizing those Spanish verbs. A temple recommend would be worth more to us than standing first in our graduating class. But it is also clear that spiritual learning would not replace our drive for secular learning.

The Lord clearly values what you will find in that history book and in a text on political theory. Remember His words. He wants you to know “things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations” (D&C 88:79). And He favors not only Spanish verbs but the study of geography and demography. You remember that His educational charter requires that we have “a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms” (D&C 88:79). There is also an endorsement for questions we study in the sciences. It is clear that putting spiritual learning first does not relieve us from learning secular things. On the contrary, it gives our secular learning purpose and motivates us to work harder at it.

If we will keep spiritual learning in its proper place, we will have to make some hard choices of how we use our time. But there should never be a conscious choice to let the spiritual become secondary as a pattern in our lives. Never. That will lead to tragedy. The tragedy may not be obvious at first, nor may it ever be clear in mortal life. But remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life. When you see that reality clearly with spiritual sight, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning. In fact, you will work harder at your secular learning than you would without that spiritual vision.
Spiritual learning is the most important learning we will ever do. It is eternally important. However, the Lord wants us to learn secular things as well--history, science, math, etc.--and with spiritual learning firmly in place, we can receive the Lord's guidance about what direction we should take with our secular learning. What would be a good choice for our vocation? What can we learn that would develop the talents the Lord has blessed us with? What would help our family? What would help us to serve the Lord better?

The answers to those questions will be different for each individual, but if we put God first in our lives, He will help us with the rest.

Another quote from Elder Eyring:

For many of us, the feeling bears down on us that we must choose between spiritual and secular learning. That is a false conflict for most of us, particularly for the young. Before we have families, there is leisure time even in what is our busiest day. Too often we use many hours for fun and pleasure, clothed in the euphemism “I’m recharging my batteries.” Those hours could be spent reading and studying to gain knowledge, skills, and culture.

For instance, we too often fail to take advantage of the moments we spend waiting. Think of the last time you sat in a barber shop or a beauty salon or the waiting room of a doctor’s office. It is so easy to spend time thumbing through any magazine that is stacked on a table there. In fact, if you think about it, you will remember how you wondered where they get those out-of-date magazines. There is much valuable reading you could do if you took a book with you to fill those islands of time.

From at least the time man was created, there was the written word. The scriptures tell us that from what they teach about Adam and Eve. They were conscious of the need to develop the mind and the power of reading and writing. In the book of Moses we read, “And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled” (Moses 6:6).

It takes neither modern technology nor much money to seize the opportunity to learn in the moments we now waste. You could just have a book and paper and pencil with you. That will be enough. But you need determination to capture the leisure moments you now waste.

How do you manage to continue learning, even if you are not going to school? What ways to you capture spare moments to learn something new? How does constant learning help you?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Mary. I needed this post. As you know, I love to learn. It is good to find out how very worthwhile it is to be well-rounded and cultured.--Barb

5:28 PM  
Blogger m&m said...

I love this. Thanks for writing about it.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous matt said...

One thing that helps me is having the scriptures on my Palm Treo. Wherever I am I always have the scriptures with me (and general conference talks, TPC books, etc..) because I always have my phone with me! There is a lot of time during the day that can be used for reading and studying if we just have the ease of always having our scriptures with us wherever we go.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Glad you liked it, Barb!

You're welcome, m&m! I thought this was a really inspiring talk.

Matt, thanks for dropping by and thanks for your idea. With phones, handhelds, and iPods, etc., a lot of people can have scriptures and books with them all the time, as well as music, and can make use of those free moments.

4:34 PM  
Blogger T. F. Stern said...

Good information for all of us. I like the ipod because it has the scriptures and several other good books I can listen to while driving.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

TF, thanks for stopping by. Drive time is a good time to listen to scriptures and other books. Also, some people at work walk on their breaks and they listen to their ipods then. It's another time to learn a little something while exercising.

4:58 PM  
Blogger job said...


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