Growing up, my parents placed a high value on education. My mother was a teacher and my father worked for the Bureau of Fire Protection. Both of them worked on educating themselves to improve their ranking in their individual employments and to improve the quality of life for our family. They encouraged me and my siblings not to settle for mediocrity when it came to our education. Because of what we learned from our parents, we excelled in academics and in our other endeavors.
But after graduation, and in the midst of adult life, how many of us have accidentally let education slip from our list of priorities? Is education just for the young, or is there more we can do to continue learning, no matter what our age?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints puts so much importance on education. Growing up in the Church gave me the right mindset and has guided me as I have worked to continue to educate myself.
Ancient Prophets Teach of The Value of Education
Proverbs 1:5 emphasizes that those who are wise will seek learning. The scriptures are replete with lessons of how important it is to teach and to learn. The Savior of the world lived on the earth increasing in wisdom (Luke 2:48) and teaching in any way and at every opportunity He could. His example is a light to us all as we strive to improve. It is important to understand how the world works, and that takes a lot of effort. How much more effort is needed to understand how heaven works? No wonder we are taught to elevate ourselves from ignorance by doing all we can to obtain education. There is so much to learn in order to go through life and much more in order to grow through it.
Modern Prophets Exhort Everyone to Acquire Education
Russell M. Nelson, prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by people who foster this sacred and strong desire for learning among its members. “The glory of God is intelligence…” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:36) and Heavenly Father, with all His glory, wants His children to have the quality of life that would bring the greatest joy and happiness. This is His mission, not only in this life but also in the next – “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of the Church, in the April 2009 New Era magazine, said:
“The Lord and His Church have always encouraged education to increase our ability to serve Him and our Heavenly Father’s children. For each of us, whatever our talents, He has service for us to give. And to do it well always involves learning, not once or for a limited time, but continually.”
As much as we teach each other in Sunday school, we are not limited to spiritual learning alone. President Eyring teaches of the importance of total education,
“That spiritual element, when it is effective, refines and uplifts the aims of our total education. …Remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life. When you see that reality clearly, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning. In fact, you will work harder at your secular learning than you would without that spiritual vision.”
To achieve the “work and glory” of God, President Eyring warned that “education must never stop. If it ends at the door of the classroom on graduation day, we will fail. And we will need the help of heaven to know which of the myriad things we could study we would most wisely learn….
“The real life we’re preparing for is eternal life,“ President Eyring said. “Secular knowledge has for us eternal significance. Our conviction is that God, our Heavenly father, wants us to live the life He does.”
The fundamental principle of education in the Church, then, is based on the eternal goal to become like our Heavenly Father. This is what drives the leaders as well as the members of the Church to pursue all possible means of education – to gain “more knowledge and intelligence in this life through… diligence and obedience…” in order to “have so much the advantage in the world to come.”
Available Church Resources
The heart of the education system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started with the School of the Prophets in 1833. Now, the Church operates three large universities in the United States – Brigham Young University (BYU), BYU-Hawaii and BYU-Idaho. It also runs LDS Business College in Utah. The Church also runs an online education program that makes it possible for many more students to get their education from these larger campuses remotely. The PathwayConnect program prepares students for that opportunity. More information about these opportunities can be found at www.besmart.com
The Church also invests in the seminary and institute programs, which are intended to further students’ religious education and give them a gospel-orientated preparation for life. These programs are free to ensure that anyone interested can participate. The following links will help in understanding these programs.
Continuing Your Education
Since learning is an eternal principle, that means that education is meant to last far longer than the years of our initial schooling. This entire planet was created as a learning experience for us, to help us grow. Our Heavenly Father’s ultimate goal is to help us be like Him, and He is very, very smart. He knows all there is to know, so our eternal journey is and will continue to be one of higher and higher learning until we reach the level where He is.
Even though we can’t learn everything in this life, we should still try to make continuous learning a part of our everyday lives. So sign up for that class, watch educational videos online, study current events, study and pray to receive more spiritual knowledge, read a book, or try something you’ve never done before.
We can take more responsibility in our lives by continuing to educate ourselves on everything we can. After all, this mortal life is meant to be a time of growth and learning guided by a Heavenly Father who is the greatest teacher there is.