Deeply implementing God’s motivations of love in our lives

There is growth incalculable to the human soul when it steps outside of itself and concerns itself with others. Since that is the major work of our Father in Heaven—to work joyously for the advancement and progression of others—how could we think to receive all that he has unless we implement deeply into our own lives his motivations of love, thereby truly becoming his sons and daughters?

Marion G. Romney, “Principles of Temporal Salvation,” Ensign, Apr 1981, 3

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Five characteristics of great learners

Henry B. Eyring spoke to BYU students in 1997 and gave them a wonderful charge:

“You are under mandate to pursue – not just while you are here, but throughout your lives – educational excellence.”

He told them they must do so “while avoiding pride, the great spiritual destroyer,” and further counseled, “[N]ot only can you pursue educational excellence and humility at the same time to avoid spiritual danger but that the way to humility is also the doorway to educational excellence. The best antidote I know for pride also can produce in us the characteristics that lead to excellence in learning.”

Elder Eyring continued “There is something we can choose to do in our daily life that will provide a constant protection against pride. It is simply to remember who God is and what it means to be his child.”

Those memories, if we choose to invite them, can produce a powerful blend of courage and meekness. No problem is too hard for us with his help. No price is too great to pay for what he offers us. And still in our greatest successes we feel as little children. And in our greatest sacriÞces we still feel in his debt, wanting to give more. That is a humility which is energizing, not enervating. We can choose that shield as a protection against pride. And when we make that choice, to remember him, we are at the same time choosing to do what can lead us to acquire the characteristics of great learners.

And what are the characteristics of great learners? They:

    welcome correction
    keep commitments
    work hard
    help others learn
    expect resistance and overcome it

In his concluding remarks, Elder Eyring taught:

“You and I will face difficulty in our studies and in our lives, and we expect it because of what we know about who God is and that we are his children, what his hopes are for us, and how much he loves us. He will give us no test without preparing the way for us to pass it….Today you could seek correction. You could keep a commitment. You could work hard. You could help someone else. You could plow through adversity. And as we do those things day after day, by and by we will find that we have learned whatever God would teach us for this life and for the next, with him.”

Henry B. Eyring, “A Child of God,” BYU Devotional, 21 October, 1997

p.s. – Then BYU President Dallin H. Oaks gave similar counsel in 1979:

“The ingredients of success at BYU are: first, be worthy, second, seek learning; third, work hard; and fourth, help others.”

BYU President Dallin H. Oaks, Formula for Success at BYU, Devotional, Sept. 11, 1979

What Karl G. Maeser wrote on the board

“In December of 1900, Karl G. Maeser wrote four statements in his bold script on the board:

1. To love God is the beginning of all wisdom.
2. This life is one great (homework) assignment…in the principles of immortality and eternal life.
3. Man grows only with his higher goals.
4. Never let anything impure enter here.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Who We Are and What God Expects Us To Do,” BYU Devotional, Sept. 15, 1987

Education involves finding the truth below the surface

Ralph Waldo Emerson opens his poem Blight with the words, “Give me truths: for I am weary of the surfaces.” The recognition that learning requires digging below the surfaces and involves challenging assumptions is nicely captured in a 2007 report issued by the Task Force on General Education at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences:

A liberal education is useful. This does not mean that its purpose is to train students for their professions or to give them a guide to life after college. Nor does it mean instilling confidence in students by flattering the presumption that the world they are familiar with is the only one that matters. On the contrary, the aim of a liberal education is to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient young people and to help them to find ways to re-orient themselves. A liberal education aims to accomplish these things by questioning assumptions, by inducing self-reflection, by teaching students to think critically and analytically, by exposing them to the sense of alienation produced by encounters with radically different historical moments and cultural formations and with phenomena that exceed their, and even our own, capacity fully to understand. Liberal education is vital because professional schools do not teach these things, employers do not teach them, and even most academic graduate programs do not teach them. Those institutions deliberalize students: they train them to think as professionals. A preparation in the liberal arts and sciences is crucial to the ability to think and act critically and reflectively outside the channels of a career or profession. The historical, theoretical, and relational perspectives that a liberal education provides can be a source of enlightenment and empowerment that will serve students well for the rest of their lives. It is with this aspect of liberal learning in mind—the influence it can have on the kinds of lives students will lead after they leave Harvard—that we propose the program in general education that follows.

For those really interested, an earlier version of the above from a Harvard Magazine article reads as follows:

“The essential purpose of a liberal education, as we understand it, is not to instill competency and confidence, or to flatter the presumption that the world students are familiar with is the only one that matters. It is, on the contrary, to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, and to disorient young people and help them to find ways to re-orient themselves. Liberal educators aim to accomplish this by challenging assumptions, by inducing self-reflection, by teaching students how to think critically and analytically, by exposing them to the sense of alienation produced by encounters with radically different historical moments and cultural formations and with phenomena that exceed their, and even our own, capacity fully to understand. These are things that professional schools do not do, employers do not do, even academic graduate programs do not do. Those institutions deliberalize students, train them to think as professionals. The historical, theoretical, and relational perspectives that liberal education provides can be a source of enlightenment and empowerment that will serve our graduates well for the rest of their lives. We expect that every course offered in general education will be taught in this spirit.”