Skip to main content

Learning for a Lifetime

Audio: Learning for a Lifetime
0:00 / 0:00

I am grateful to be with you tonight. This is a happy day for you and for your families, friends, and loved ones, and it is a privilege to be here with you.

I want to share a thought with you about learning for a lifetime and some advice about keeping your heart and your mind open to learning all through your lives. I hope it will be helpful to you.  

When I use the word learning tonight, I have in mind learning of the whole soul--the mind, the heart, and your immortal spirit. This is learning that increases our power to know and understand, to take effective action, and to grow and become more like our Father in Heaven. Learning of the whole soul is inherently a spiritual experience and rests, therefore, on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments. The Lord has made it abundantly clear that such learning is essential to our eternal salvation, and to building up the kingdom of God and establishing Zion.

If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things--that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.[1] is my will that you should ... obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion.[2]

It is crucial that we continue to learn all through our lives. It is not just a good thing to do; it is essential. If we do not learn, we do not grow and change.  If we do not grow and change, we do not become more knowledgeable, more effective, more useful, more faithful, and more like our Father in Heaven. In fact, if we do not exercise our God-given power to learn and grow and change, we will lose power until we know and can do less and less.  

Let me give you an example. Imagine graduating from college 40 years ago, in the mid-1970s, like Elder Wilson and I did. What if we had stopped learning? What if we learned literally nothing else our whole lives except the things we had learned to that point? We would have had no new insights or revelation from the living prophets, the scriptures, or the Holy Ghost. We would know nothing of developments in medicine, technology, globalization, world affairs, environmental change, government regulation, and education. There would have been no personal growth nor development through repentance and learning from our experience.  

When Sister Clark and I served here at BYU-Idaho she was often asked, "How did you meet President Clark?" The first thing she said in response was, "He wasn't President Clark when I met him." If there had been no learning, I would have gotten older, but I would still be the 25-year-old Sister Clark knew when I graduated from college--not a good prospect for Sister Clark and our family.  

Because you are graduates of BYU-Idaho, you have a great advantage in the quest to learn all through your lives. You have been immersed in the principles of the BYU-Idaho Learning Model. At BYU-Idaho students and teachers know from experience that learning comes: 1) in revelation and inspiration through the Light of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Ghost; 2) through systematic inquiry as teachers and students take responsibility for their own learning and engage with one another in learning experiences of many kinds; and 3) by acting with faith in Christ to teach one another, attended by His grace.   

As you seek to learn you will discover that these principles work powerfully in any situation--at home, at work, in your community, or at church. If you keep your covenants and if your hearts and your minds are open to learning, diligent application of these principles will help you learn with your whole soul, no matter what you are trying to learn. This promise of the Lord Jesus Christ is for you, and it is true:

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.[3]  

As you move forward to learn all through your lives, I hope you will remember these simple things that will help you keep your mind and your heart open to learning of the whole soul:

1. Ask the Lord to bless you with the desire to learn. If you already have that desire, wonderful. If not, ask the Lord for that gift. The Lord will educate your desires so that you will seek, ask, and knock. You will want to learn what He wants you to learn all through your lives. That desire will work in you, and your heart and mind will be open to learning.

2. Make repentance a central part of your life. Repentance is a divine process. It is the way we change, grow, and get better. If we repent, we can become more like our Heavenly Father through the redeeming and strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If repentance is central to your life, you will always be on your knees, humbling yourself before the Lord, seeking His help. Your heart and your mind will be open to learning of the whole soul. 

3. Worship in the temple as often as you can. The temple is the Lord's house. It is His house of revelation and learning. If you go there often, if you take your questions and your desires to learn with you, the Lord Himself will teach you. As you participate in sacred ordinances on behalf of departed ancestors, as you ponder the deep things of God, your heart and your mind will be open to learning.

I know that if you will do these three simple things the Lord Jesus Christ will bless you with His light, His love, and His grace. And you will learn with your whole soul all through your lives. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] Doctrine and Covenants 42:61

[2] Doctrine and Covenants 93:53

[3] Doctrine and Covenants 88:63 (see also Matthew 7:7)