Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Joseph Smith, God's Student

The following was written to be posted on the blog of the Education in Zion website. Education in Zion is a gallery on BYU campus dedicated to church and BYU history. Its intended audience is BYU students but the principles apply to all.        
           The title above is that of one of the first displays in our gallery and has been quite intriguing to me. What an honor to be referred to as “God’s Student!” What qualified him to be given this title? Joseph’s learning came through a pattern of study, experience, and revelation. As we gain our education in this same way, we too can be God’s students.
            Joseph’s example of study was an incredible one. When he had questions, he did all he could to find the answers! When confronted with the realization that he knew not which church to join, he sought for answers by studying the scriptures, talking to his parents and family, attending various church services, and asking questions of the ministers and church leaders he met. Much of our learning will come in the same way. In fact, it often feels like that this is the only way we are to learn while here at BYU. We spend hours studying, memorizing, and doing all we can to learn and understand the material we will be tested on. While this is an important part of the learning process, it is only that: a part.
            To truly be God’s student, our learning must come in more ways than this. Upon studying and doing all we can, we will be given experiences that further our growth. This was certainly the case with Joseph. In the midst of his trials at liberty jail, the Lord told him that “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7). Like him, there is much to be gained through our experiences at BYU. We too will have challenges and opportunities for the Lord to teach us. It is our responsibility to recognize these lessons.
            Lastly, we can be God’s students as we receive personal revelation. It goes without saying that Joseph learned largely in this way. We too, as we seek to be worthy and invite the Spirit into our lives, will be taught by revelation. The promptings we receive will put the things we are learning into perspective and help us see their relevance and application. I had such an experience recently as I read my American Heritage textbook. As I was reading about the tools the founders of our nation used in creating our government, I realized that these same principles ought to be used when founding and forming our families! My perspective of the things I’m learning in the class has now changed because of a simple prompting from the Spirit.
            May we always remember the way the Prophet Joseph was taught and always seek to learn in this way: through study, experience, and revelation.
-Kirk Perry, Education in Zion Gallery Educator

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