BYU-Pathway Worldwide Devotional
“Learning is a Spiritual Endeavor”
I know what it means to struggle to learn. As a child, I tried to learn how to play the piano. However, it was so difficult for me and I was so bad at it that my piano teacher told my mother that she should let me quit. Later during my university studies, I tried to learn Mandarin Chinese. That proved so difficult that my professor eventually sent me for testing to see why I struggled so much. That testing revealed that I have difficulty hearing certain sounds that make learning to play music and speak foreign languages very hard for me.
Imagine my surprise and dismay when after my first year of university, I was called to serve a Spanish-speaking mission in Peru. Learning Spanish wasn’t easy. I was the worst Spanish-speaker in my district at the Missionary Training Center. And it took me much longer than my missionary peers to learn Spanish. But today, with the Lord’s help, I speak Spanish well.
I’ve often wondered why I was able to learn Spanish but was unable to learn to play the piano or how to speak Chinese. I’ve come to understand that I made learning to play the piano and speak Mandarin purely secular efforts—I didn’t involve the Lord in my attempts to learn. However, with learning Spanish, I actively sought the Lord’s help. Even though learning Spanish was extremely difficult for me, with God’s help I was able to persist in the required effort, and I was able to overcome the issues that affected me in learning to play the piano and speak Mandarin.Today, I’d like to talk with you about how you can overcome your own struggles to learn by obtaining God’s help.
The scriptures and the words of the prophets teach us four principles that allow us to access God’s help to learn.The first principle is that all truth is made understandable to us by the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. In fact, Elder David A. Bednar has taught that, “The Holy Ghost is … the teacher and witness of all truth.”
· Overcome or work around challenges to our learning.· Develop talents that don’t come naturally to us (such as in my case, learning Spanish).· And, persist in doing the things that allow us to learn even when it is very difficult.
Now with those principles in mind, what can you do to make your learning a spiritual endeavor? Here are five suggestions:First, cultivate a desire to learn. The Lord grants unto us according to our desire.
Second, do the work, or in other words, obey the laws, required to learn. For example, if you want to learn algebra, you will have to read, listen, or watch an explanation of what it is and how do it. You will have to ponder this explanation. And you will then have to practice solving problems. After doing these things, depending on how well you understand, you may also need to get tutoring or put in additional practice. I had to do a lot more work to learn Spanish than my peers, and sometimes you will too. Remember that when you have to put in extra work, the Lord can give you strength and time to do so.Third, do the things that bring the Spirit into your life. Doctrine and Covenants 93 teaches that, “He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.”
I testify that as you make learning a spiritual endeavor, you too will find solutions to your learning challenges and be able to learn more efficiently and more effectively. I further testify that Jesus Christ is the source of all truth. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.