1. The School of the Prophets provides a pattern for us to follow in our learning.
Video: School of the Prophets President Hinckley teaches about the School of the Prophets (D&C 88:117-137). (1:21)
‘The teacher must learn before he can teach. Therefore, in ancient and modern times there have been schools of the prophets, in which the mysteries of the kingdom have been taught to men who would go out to teach the gospel and to fight the battles of the Lord. These “prophets” need not be called to an office; they go out as teachers of truth, always and everywhere.’ (John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 257)
D&C 88:78 Teach ye diligently
‘We need to do a more thorough job in the teaching process to get the Spirit down into the hearts of the people. It is more than intellectual, it is more than a mental assessment. It must be a thing of the heart, a thing of the spirit…
We must strengthen ourselves and our people to get our teachers to speak out of their hearts rather than out of their books, to communicate their love for the Lord and this precious work, and somehow it will catch fire in the hearts of those they teach.’ (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 619 – 620.)
2. We should learn “by study and also by faith.”
Video: Preparation of Brigham Young: A Seeker after Truth This one-minute video deals with Brigham Young’s desire to study things out and learn by faith.
D&C 88:117-141 “Therefore … Organize Yourselves”
‘The School of the Prophets founded by the Lord (see D&C 86:127) was organized in February 1833. The Prophet and the Apostles and other elders were to “teach one another words of wisdom … out of the best books … by study and also by faith” (v. 118). Those who attended “had many manifestations of the presence of the Spirit of the Lord,” including speaking in foreign tongues (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 567).
President Brigham Young said that “the members of that school were but few at first, and the Prophet commenced to teach them in doctrine to prepare them to go out into the world to preach the gospel unto all people, and gather the select from the four quarters of the Earth, as the prophets anciently have spoken. While this instruction prepared the Elders to administer in word and doctrine, it did not supply the teachings necessary to govern their private, or temporal, lives; it did not say whether they should be merchants, farmers, mechanics, or money-changers. The Prophet began to instruct them how to live, that they might be better prepared to perform the great work they were called to accomplish.” (In Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 567.)
A “school in Zion” was organized in Independence, Missouri, in August 1833 with Parley P. Pratt as its instructor (see Notes and Commentary on D&C 97:3–5), and Brigham Young patterned a school of elders after these early schools when the Church moved to Utah.
In the later verses of Doctrine and Covenants 88, wrote Smith and Sjodahl, “rules are given for the conduct of the School of the Prophets. This school was to be established for the benefit of all who were called to the ministry of the Church (v. 127). Note the order and etiquette to be observed in everything pertaining to the school. It was to be a house of God and to be respected as such.” (Commentary, p. 567.) Though the rules of order and conduct in these verses were given specifically for the School of the Prophets, many have universal application.’ (Institute Doctrine and Covenants Manual)
3. We should continue to learn throughout our lives.
Video: Unto the Least of These This 14-minute video tells the story of Olivas Aoy, an early Latter-day Saint and pioneer in education in El Paso, Texas.
Many years ago the US government placed agents throughout the country to help farmers learn to be more productive. One agent in the South went to visit an old farmer in his area, but he found that convincing the farmer to change proved rather difficult.
He asked the farmer, “Wouldn’t you like to know how to get your cows to give more milk?”
“Nope,” the farmer replied.
“Well, wouldn’t you like your pigs to have larger litters of baby pigs?”
Again the farmer answered, “Nope.”
“Well, wouldn’t you like to learn how to get more corn per acre?”
The same answer was given as before: “Nope.”
Exasperated, the county agent asked, “Well, why not?”
The farmer replied simply, “I already knows more than I does.”
Elder Packer: ‘Elder Harold B. Lee and Elder Marion G. Romney were always teaching, and they would, in a sense, go out of their way to tell me something or teach me something. I think the reason they did it—I’m not sure they ever saw me in this position or calling—is that I had one virtue: I wanted to learn, and I didn’t resent it. And if you don’t resent it, and if you want to learn, the Lord will keep teaching you, sometimes things you really didn’t think you wanted to know.’
‘You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” New Era, Jan. 2001, 8)
D&C 6:7 Seek not for riches but for wisdom
‘Now, we have before us, on the one hand, the riches of eternity, and, on the other hand, the riches of the earth. Which will you choose? If you choose the riches of eternity, then all other things will be added unto you. If you choose the riches of the earth, you may lose all else, yea, even the riches of the earth. There are many, very many among the Latter-day Saints who are rich today, and others who are growing rich; but they do not derive their happiness from riches. There are five sources from which the Saints derive inestimable happiness, and in which the principle and power of wealth has no influence whatever: The first is the possession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the second is the contemplation of spiritual things in that Gospel; the third is the blessings of the house of God, in which the endowments are given, and the principle of marriage for eternity is revealed; the fourth is the preaching of the Gospel to a fallen world, thus bringing to pass the redemption of mankind; and the fifth is administering the necessities of life to the worthy poor. This is what brings happiness, pure and unsullied happiness, to the Latter-day Saints. Let us seek after these things.’ (Rudger Clawson, Conference Report, April 1910, Second Day-Morning Session 67 – 68.)
D&C 19:23 Learn of me, and listen to my words
‘These words give me the feeling of such closeness to, such intimacy with the Savior, looking at him, listening to him, learning from him, walking with him, and feeling his peace like his very arms around me. Within each of us is an intense hunger for this intimacy with and closeness to him. I think we all want to feel his spirit around us.’ (Chieko N Okazaki, Lighten Up! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 199.)
4. In the temple we gain an education for eternity.
In the temple we come into the Lord’s house, described in D&C 109:8 as as “a house of learning” where we are taught eternal truths and where we may seek inspiration for specific personal concerns.
Temple attendance has a calming, settling, consoling influence that distills peace and contentment. It provides an environment for inspiration in answer to prayers. The accompanying family history work yields similar blessings. We all need to make the temple an important and frequent part of our learning.
“In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something” (Dallin H Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, November 2000, 32).
“Spiritual learning takes precedence. The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is … like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow. … One need not choose between the two … for there is opportunity to get both simultaneously” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 390).