Elder Bednar Invites Students to Be "Quick to Observe"
By Walter Cooley, Church Magazines
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told Brigham Young University students that their future success and happiness would largely be measured by their capacity to become "quick to observe" (see Mormon 1:2). This capacity is a spiritual gift and a prerequisite to the gift of discernment, he said, during a devotional address on May 10.
"Blessed with these spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, we will not lose our way, we will not wander off, we will not be lost," he said.
Elder Bednar explained that being quick to observe includes looking, noticing, and obeying. He related how being quick to observe the example of the late Elder David B. Haight continues to bless him now as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In June 2004, Elder Bednar, then president of Brigham Young University—Idaho, attended a Church Board of Education meeting. At the close of the meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley asked Elder Haight to say the benediction. Elder Haight struggled several times to rise from his chair, but he was unable to do so. President Hinckley then told Elder Haight that it was all right, indicating he did not need to stand. Elder Haight responded by saying, "President, I must stand." After a few more attempts, he stood and said the prayer.
From observing this experience, Elder Bednar said he learned about the dignity and humility that should always attend our prayers.
To illustrate examples of being quick to observe, Elder Bednar referred to two Book of Mormon prophets. After quoting from Mormon 1:2, Elder Bednar said that even by the age of 10, Mormon had obtained this gift. He also said the prophet Nephi possessed this gift. Referring to the interaction between Nephi and the Spirit in 1 Nephi 11–14, Elder Bednar said that 13 times Nephi is told to look. Looking, Elder Bednar said, is a fundamental feature of the learning process.
"Nephi would not have seen what he desired to see, he would not have known what he needed to know, and he could not have done what he ultimately needed to do if he had not been quick to observe," Elder Bednar said.
Elder Bednar said that being quick to observe is a prerequisite to and preparation for the gift of discernment. "Discernment is a light of protection and direction in a world that grows increasingly dark," he said.
Quoting Elder George Q. Cannon (18271901), who served as counselor in the First Presidency to four Church Presidents, Elder Bednar said that the spirit of discernment will help us to detect hidden error and evil in others and ourselves and also find good concealed in others and in ourselves.
"Discernment helps us distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, the important from the unimportant, and the necessary from that which is merely nice," Elder Bednar said. "The gift of discernment opens to us vistas that stretch far beyond what can be seen with natural eyes or heard with natural ears. Discerning is seeing with spiritual eyes and feeling with the heart."