Strive to Learn in the Lord’s Way
The subject that I have chosen to speak on today, and let’s see if we can make the technology work—it’s a miracle—is learning the Lord’s way. I don’t profess to know the Lord’s way; this is my interpretation of the Lord’s way. This is something that we do here at the College that you hear a lot about, and I thought that I would give you what I think is a scriptural perspective on learning the Lord’s way.
Certainly, the learning model is an inspired direction for learning here at the College, and you hear a lot about it in your classes from your instructors. But as I look through this myself, I realize that there is a lot of scriptural basis in the learning model. The first step, we know, is prepare. One of the first steps I think you need to do is to learn how to learn. Maybe some of you know how to learn, and maybe some of you don’t. But I looked this up on the Internet—my master’s degree is in secondary education—and I remember going through, studying about this in my classes. But there are three basic learning styles: the visual, when you see it and you understand it; the second, auditory, when you hear it and understand it; and then the kinesthetic. And that is when you experience it or do it, and then you understand.
Now I think that all of us learn using a combination of these devices. If you take the opportunity, Google “three learning styles.” There is a website from the University of South Dakota, and they have a little test that you can take to determine what your learning style is. I took it and discovered my learning style is what I thought it was, which is visual. I learn by seeing things. I don’t learn so much by hearing things. My granddaughter would probably agree with that. She knows that I don’t hear much. And my wife is convinced that it is selective hearing. But also I know that I learn by doing things.
Next I would suggest that we become lifelong learners. I’m going to give you a little bit of a talk that was given to me every semester I had Dr. Chuck Lutz at Utah State University. Every class I had from him, the first lecture was always the same, and this was the basis of it: “I can’t learn you anything. All learning is self-learning.” I think I went through high school and middle school and grade school not understanding that. I thought that perhaps just by being there I was going to learn. And if you were going to look back at my report cards, which I hope my mother burned, you would see that … I got out of it what I put into it.
When I got to college, it was a little better, and in the master’s program it was much better. Let me give you an example of a self-taught person. Dr. Mary Kohler used to teach here at the business college. And when I first started here—and coincidentally, she is my wife’s aunt—I can assure you that it wasn’t her recommendation that got me hired; she really didn’t care for me that much. She came here to teach office administration, and shortly after she got here, the then-president of the business college called her in and said, as the story goes, or as I have heard it, “You know, we’ve got enough office administration teachers, but what I really need is somebody who can teach medical assisting.”
Now Dr. Kohler had no idea about medical assisting, but she went to work and took the responsibility to teach herself about medical assisting. And within the space of probably a couple of years, it became an accredited program here at the institution. She taught herself.
Another example that I’d use that I’ve seen recently is Brother Guymon here. Brother Guymon came in here and he didn’t know anything about BrainHoney, but he has some responsibility in that area. I wish I could blame it all on him, but I can’t. But what he did to find out about BrainHoney is he went online, and he Googled it, and he found all kinds of information about how to use BrainHoney, and so he is teaching himself how to do that. So my next recommendation is, when you need to know something, why don’t you try it? Give it a try. Never before have there been so many resources available to us—learning resources. They are all over the Internet. It’s one of the great blessings of our age, the Internet.
And I could even say that Wikipedia is a great thing. When I need to know how to spell something or how to find out about a particular piece of information—in fact, just yesterday, a person called me and said, he was talking about an NGO. How many of you know what an NGO is? Well, I do now—a nongovernmental organization. We are an NGO here at the business college. But I didn’t know what it was, so after the phone conversation was over, I just typed it in and sure enough, it came up on Wikipedia. Now some would argue, I can see our head librarian sitting in the back with a big smile on her face, because there are better resources than Wikipedia. At least, that’s what she tells me.
Now this comes to the next point. Prayer. Prayer has a big part to do in preparation. We have a big blessing here at the College, that the faculty start out their classes with prayer. That has not always been the case. When I was teaching, I don’t remember starting the classes with prayer, but it just makes all the difference in the world. Focus on the prayer that’s being offered in your behalf as you listen to the person giving the prayer. Now that’s not always easy to do, and I have great difficulty with that myself. You see, the speed of speech is between about 120 and 150 words per minute. But our listening speed is about 600 words per minute. And in some it’s even faster. So it’s easy to get distracted as a prayer is being given, because our minds are in gear. I don’t know if you have found that, but I’ve found that I have a difficult time with that, and I have to really focus on prayers.
Reflect back for a moment on Paige’s prayer that she gave at the beginning of our devotional. And without a show of hands, can you remember what she said? You need to do your part to ensure that the goal of the prayer is achieved. It is the responsibility of both the teacher and the learner to ensure that the Spirit is present in the classroom. While the teacher should teach by the Spirit—even secular subjects—the learner must learn by the Spirit. There’s a great scripture that relates to this: “Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual.” (D&C 29:34) So secular things are spiritual to the Lord as well.
Teach one another. All people—all of the students in the class—have a common interest in understanding what is being taught. But not all have the same understanding. And that is the reason why we must teach one another. Synergism comes from having several people involved who have different ideas and points of view. Synergism is often defined as “one plus one equals three.” We know that doesn’t work mathematically, but synergistically it does work. The scriptural basis in teaching one another is found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:118: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
Now how does this—I mentioned to you that there is one theme that I would like to run through my talk today, and of course that is prayer. How does prayer enter into “Teach one another”?
I want to give you an example from my own life. As I was serving my mission, my mission president often called us in and interviewed us. I suppose those of you who are returned missionaries have had that experience. Sometimes it’s a pleasant experience, and sometimes it’s not. In this particular case, my mission president said to me, “Elder Cherrington, do you pray with your companion?”
And I said, “No, we don’t pray, because we don’t get along.”
He said, “Maybe that’s the reason you ought to pray.”
So as we teach one another, it is wise to pray and ask for the Spirit of the Lord to help us.
The next step is to ponder. In our personal prayers, what do we pray about? There is a great definition, or a great piece of instruction in Alma 34, in verses 20-21, 24-27:
“Cry unto him when you are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
“Cry unto him in your houses, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening….
“Cry unto him over the crops in your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
“Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
“But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
“Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare,”
And then back to this idea of teaching one another: “And also for the welfare of those who are around you.” Ask the Lord for help.
In Doctrine and Covenants 6:5: “Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.” Think about that for a minute. Do you think the Lord can pour information into an empty vessel? Do you think the Lord will answer your prayers if you haven’t done your part? By the way, as you go in the elevators today and through the rest of this week, take a look in elevator number three, at the quote there by Brother Ralph Little, in the elevator, which relates directly back to this. Now the Savior corrected Oliver Cowdery when he took that approach, and we read about that in Doctrine and Covenants 9:7. “Behold, ye have not understood; ye have supposed that I would give it unto you, when ye took no thought save it was to ask me.”
So we need to reflect on what’s been taught. Give it some thought and do as the Lord counseled Oliver Cowdery, in the very next verse of the Doctrine and Covenants: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (D&C 9:8)
I’ve heard that it is said that there is one thing that the Lord cannot do. I don’t know if this is true—I guess someday I hope to have the opportunity to ask Him—and that is to make something from nothing. So we have to put the “something” in before we get something out.
I was recently talking to President Richards, and I was reflecting back on a particular staff member, and I said, “I don’t know how he remembers what he remembers. And he said, “I asked him that one time, and he said, ‘I don’t write it in my mind; I write it in my heart.’ ” So we need to write the things that we are studying in our hearts. We need to internalize it; we need to make it ours, so we understand it well.
Then comes the “prove” step. That’s where we apply the principles that we have learned. And the Lord doesn’t limit the circumstances in which He will bless us with His Spirit, as long as we have complied with the other steps, whether they be assessments, authentic learning experiences or even on the job. As you leave this institution, of course all of this collected information that you have been gathering should be available for your use. And that is one of the “prove” steps of this great learning model that we teach with here at the College. Throughout the rest of your life, you will always be proving yourself.
Now, I want to leave the learning model for a moment, and I want to go to the College as a temple of learning. I want you to notice in the title that you see up there, that “temple” has a lower-case T. And I think it’s important that you understand it. Elder Bednar, when he was the president of BYU—Idaho, gave a talk at a devotional, and to me it has been a significant talk for me. And I’m going to substitute BYU—Idaho, substitute it with LDS Business College:
“[LDS Business College], brothers and sisters, is a temple of learning. I have tried to use that phrase carefully so as not to confuse the House of the Lord with a temple of learning. But there are important patterns and parallels between the House of the Lord and temples of learning, with temples of learning referring specifically to the institutions of higher education sponsored by and affiliated with the Church.” (“Brigham Young University—Idaho: a Disciple Preparation Center,” August 31, 2004, http://www2.byui.edu/Speeches/bednar_aug2004.htm)
So he makes that distinction between the two. And I would like to show you a few of those parallels. I went out online again, to the Merriam Webster Free Dictionary, and I Googled “temples.” And this is what I got, which I thought was really interesting: It said, “Sometimes capitalized.” And then under number two, it says, “A building for Mormon sacred ordinances.” I was surprised. Then underneath it, with a lower case “t”, it says, “a place devoted to a special purpose.”
Now are we devoted to a special purpose? Certainly we are. Temples, with a capital “T” are dedicated by prophets. The temple of learning, the business college, was dedicated by a prophet. In Temples—capital “T”—we covenant and bind ourselves to act in all holiness. In temples of learning—with a lower-case “t”—we make a commitment to keep the commandments of God and to abide by the College Honor and Dress Codes. With a capital “T”—I want to make sure I get the right slide here—the Temple recommend is a standard of worthiness signed by ecclesiastical leaders every two years. In a temple of learning, with a lower-case “t,” the ecclesiastical endorsement is a standard of worthiness signed by ecclesiastical leaders every year.
Going back to Elder Bednar’s devotional talk:
“Thus covenants and commitments expand our education in the House of the Lord and in the Church’s temples of learning. In both the House of the Lord and in a temple of learning, as a result of what we experience and what we learn and what we feel, we then strive to heed a higher standard. That is the outcome and the result of what we learn. Consequently, we prepare a little harder, [we] dress a little nicer, [we] act a little better, and [we] think more deeply about things that really matter.” (Bednar, Aug. 31, 2004)
By way of review, let me quote the words of the Savior given to the Nephites. When I think of this scripture, the picture comes into my mind, and I think we have it around here at the College, that shows the Savior teaching at the Temple here in the New World. And there is destruction around, and he is standing there. Do you know which painting I am speaking of—the one where the people are all looking at him? And he says—he gave this scripture as they were gathered, and He perceived that they did not understand what He had taught. “Therefore, go ye unto your homes”—or dorm rooms, or apartments, or library—“and ponder upon the things which I have said”—or which your instructors have said—“and ask of the Father in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow”—for the next day or the next week.
I believe that this four-step approach that has been shown by the Savior in His teachings to the Nephites is a very good explanation of the learning model, with the exception that “teach one another” is not in there. Use it as a guide on how you might learn, not only while you are here at LDS Business College but throughout your life. You will see that it is a reflection of the College’s learning model, only in a different order.
A few blocks to the east of us here stands the Salt Lake Temple. In 1893, President Wilford Woodruff dedicated the Salt Lake Temple. It’s interesting—the College predates the Salt Lake Temple, because we came into being in 1886. This is part of his dedicatory prayer:
“Give to our Church Schools an ever-increasing power for good. May the Holy Spirit dominate the teachings… [there] and also control the hearts and illumine the minds of the students….
“Nor would we forget, O Lord, the normal training classes among Thy people, whether these classes be connected with the Church Schools, the Improvement Associations, or the Sunday Schools. Grant that these classes may be the means of spreading true education throughout all the borders of the Saints….
“Heavenly Father, when Thy people shall not have the opportunity of entering this holy house to offer their supplications unto Thee”—and I suppose there are some of you who do not have recommends to go do endowments or initiatory work, or maybe even baptisms for the dead. But there are other ways—“and they are oppressed and in trouble, surrounded by difficulties or assailed by temptation and shall turn their faces toward this… holy house and ask Thee for deliverance, for help, for Thy power to be extended in their behalf, we beseech Thee, to look down from Thy holy habitation in mercy and tender compassion upon them and listen to their cries.” (Temple dedication, April 6-24, 1893, http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/saltlake/prayer/)
So I would recommend, that, as King Benjamin mentioned in his great talk to his people, you recall that they all brought their tents and surrounded the temple, and turned the doors of their tents to the temple. That was a physical arrangement that we can figuratively always turn our doors toward the temple, and it’s my prayer that we will be able to do so, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.