"You show your trust in Him when you listen with the intent to learn and repent and then you go and do whatever He asks…..And if you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow, and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you."
So here we were, sitting in his house (my bishop) late at night, and he turned serious, even stern. "I'm going to ask you the worthiness questions, and this time I want answers." So I answered all the questions, and there was only one question that I answered negatively: "Do you pay tithing?" I said no.
The bishop asked why.
"I don't know, I said. "I can't afford it; I just don't."
So, the bishop asked me if I would star paying tithing and I agreed.
Then he asked me if there were any other problems we should discuss.
"I swear-a lot," I said.
"Do you take the name of the Lord in vain?"
"Why do you swear?"
"It's better than hitting people," I said.
The bishop laughed. "Will you quit swearing?"
When I quickly agreed to his request, the bishop said, "You said that readily."
"Well, I don't swear in front of women," I explained, "so I guess I can control myself at other times, too."
The bishop concluded the meeting by asking me again, "Will you quit swearing and will you pay tithing?"
I said yes. I went home-I remember the date: December 28, 1978- and I told Gail, "Starting the fifth of January, I want you to take our gross income and pay tithing on it and don't ever ask me about it again."
A lot of things broke loose after that. If you asked me what the turning points of my life were, I would say marrying Gail and paying tithing. Ever since I made that decision to pay tithing, the Church has been the guiding force in my life-in business, family, everything. I have undergone a curious change since then as well. When I was younger, going to church was a duty. I did it because of social and family pressure. That all changed. Church became an enjoyable refuge for me and a place to learn. I love going to church, sitting there listening to the songs, the lessons, and the testimonies. It feels like a safe, comfortable place, and I have found something to be true that I have always preached to my employees: You can learn something in every meeting if you're teachable and have the right attitude and are humble.
I believe a basic test exists of our capacity to learn and the measure of our love of learning. Here is the test: When you and I do not know what to do or how to proceed to achieve a particular outcome—when we are confronted with a problem that has no clear answer and no prescribed pattern for resolution—how do we learn what to do?
This was precisely the situation in which Nephi found himself as he was commanded to build a ship. “And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters” (1 Nephi 17:8).
Nephi was not a sailor. He had been reared in Jerusalem, an inland city, rather than along the borders of the Mediterranean Sea. It seems unlikely that he knew much about or had experience with the tools and skills necessary to build a ship. He may not have ever previously seen an oceangoing vessel. In essence, then, Nephi was commanded and instructed to build something he had never built before in order to go someplace he had never been before.
Now I doubt any of us will be commanded to build a ship as was Nephi, but each of us will have our spiritual and learning capabilities tested over and over and over again. The ever-accelerating rate of change in our modern world will force us into uncharted territory and demanding circumstances.
For example, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s graduates will have between 10 and 14 different jobs—by the time they are 38 years old. And the necessary skills to perform successfully in each job assignment will constantly change and evolve.
For much of my career as a professor, there was no Internet, no Google, no Wikipedia, no YouTube, and no TelePresence. The Internet only began to be widely used by the general public in the mid-1990s. Prior to that time, no courses were taught about and no majors were offered in Internet-related subjects. I remember teaching myself HTML and experimenting with ways student learning could be enhanced through this new and emerging technology. In contrast, most of you have never known and cannot imagine a world without the Internet and its associated technologies. I know I am revealing my advanced age, but the change from my “no Internet world” to your “Internet only world” has occurred within the last 15 years. Can we even begin to imagine how much things will continue to change during the next 15 years?
Because vast amounts of information are so readily available and sophisticated technologies make possible widespread and even global collaboration, we may be prone to put our trust in “the arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34; see also 28:31) as we grapple with complex challenges and problems. We perhaps might be inclined to rely primarily upon our individual and collective capacity to reason, to innovate, to plan, and to execute. Certainly we must use our God-given abilities to the fullest, employ our best efforts, and exercise appropriate judgment as we encounter the opportunities of life. But our mortal best is never enough.
President Brigham Young testified that we are never left alone or on our own:
My knowledge is, if you will follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, every man and woman will be put in possession of the Holy Ghost. . . . They will know things that are, that will be, and that have been. They will understand things in heaven, things on the earth, and things under the earth, things of time, and things of eternity, according to their several callings and capacities. [JD 1:243]
You and I are here upon the earth to prepare for eternity, to learn how to learn, to learn things that are temporally important and eternally essential, and to assist others in learning wisdom and truth (see D&C 97:1). Understanding who we are, where we came from, and why we are upon the earth places upon each of us a great responsibility both to learn how to learn and to learn to love learning.
Joseph taught the Saints that knowledge was a necessary part of our mortal journey, for “a man is saved no faster than he [gains] knowledge,” and that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain . . . in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” During challenging times, it is even more important to learn. The Prophet Joseph taught, “Knowledge does away with darkness, [anxiety], and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is.”
"God has given us many gifts, much diversity, and many differences, but the essential thing is what we know about each other--that we are all his children. Our challenge as members of the Church is for all of us to learn from each other, that we may all love each other and grow together."
(As I immigrated to America) The Prophet Joseph Smith was at the pier. At first glance I could tell it was him, by his noble expression. He came on board to shake hands and welcome us by many encouraging words, and express his thankfulness that we had arrived in safety. As he could not stay with us, he sent Apostle Geo. A. Smith to preach on board. “What did you come here for?” asked he. “To be instructed in the ways of the Lord,” answered someone. [Apostle Smith said,] “I tell you, you have come to the thrashing floor, and after you have been thrashed and pounded you will have to go through the fanning mill, where the chaff will be blown away and the wheat remain.” (The troubles of Nauvoo were just coming upon them).
I am convinced that all of us have a biologic guarantee of musicianship. This is true regardless of our age, formal experience with music, or the size and shape of our fingers, lips, and ears.... We all have music inside us and can learn how to get it out, one way or another.
I believe in a system of some kind for self-education. It doesn't have to be formal classes or courses. It may be an informal discussion group or a well-conceived reading program. But without some system or external discipline, most adults tend to give up after a good start on something and fall back into old ways.
Is the gaining of knowledge the main purpose of continued education? I don't believe so. The knowledge explosion is so vast and so rapid, no one, giving all his time, could keep up. If it's not knowledge, what then is it? To keep intellectually alive, to renew ourselves, to learn how to learn, how to adapt, how to change, what not to change.
We must develop a felling and competence within that we can "make a go of it" in any situation, regardless of what happens. One main source of this confidence is continuing education.
Very little love can come from one who is not at peace with himself or herself and God. As Enos learned, no one can be concerned about the welfare of someone else and give love to another until he or she has taken care of his or her own soul. Thus, our preparation for an eternal marriage must include repenting, learning, acquiring faith, and developing the security that comes with a vision of our potential as children of a Heavenly Father. Only when we love God above all others, as the Savior taught (see Matt. 22:34–40), will we be capable of offering pure, Christlike love to our companions for all eternity.