Repetition Important in Teaching and Learning, Elder Bednar Says
Contributed By Gerry Avant, Church News editor
- Is your pride allowing intellectual arrogance to creep into your mind and heart?
- Are you forgetting the Lord and failing to appreciate His bounteous blessings and promises?
- Are you turning inward, becoming self-centered, and gradually developing an attitude of personal privilege and entitlement?
“I promise the Holy Ghost will help you to see yourself as you ‘really are’ (Jacob 4:13) and to identify both the things you presently are doing well and the course corrections you need to make in your life.” —Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave what he called an unusual title to his address at Brigham Young University–Idaho on January 26: “Repeat Over Again … the Same Things as Before.”
He said he chose that title because his purpose was to explain the spiritual value and importance of repetitious learning and teaching.
Elder Bednar reviewed several key incidents pertaining to the four appearances of the angel Moroni and his communications with Joseph Smith, as recorded in Joseph Smith—History in the Pearl of Great Price.
- On the evening of September 21, 1823, Moroni appeared and told Joseph that God had a work for him to do and that his name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues. He told Joseph about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and reviewed numerous Old and New Testament prophecies that would be fulfilled in God’s latter-day work.
- In a second appearance, Moroni related the same things he conveyed during his first visit and then informed Joseph of great judgments that were coming upon the earth, with great desolations by famine, sword, and pestilence, and that these grievous judgments would come on the earth in this generation.
- Moroni, in his third visit, repeated the same things as before and then cautioned Joseph that Satan would tempt him to get the golden plates for the purpose of becoming rich.
- The next morning, weakened by the miraculous experiences of the night before, Joseph fell unconscious as he attempted to climb a fence on his way from a field back to his house. The first thing Joseph could recollect was a voice speaking to him, calling him by name. Moroni repeated all that he had related the previous night and commanded Joseph to go to his father and tell him of the vision and commandments which he had received.
“In each of the four appearances of Moroni to Joseph Smith, the core message was identical. But in a line upon line and precept upon precept pattern of revelation and learning, additional knowledge and instruction were given in the second, third, and fourth manifestations: a foretelling of future events, a personal warning, and a commandment. All of the messages were the same and were different in a pattern of repetitious teaching and learning,” Elder Bednar said.
Repetition as a pattern for receiving and recognizing revelation
Repetitious teaching, Elder Bednar noted, is a hallmark in the ministry of any General Authority or auxiliary leader. “For example, I frequently and repeatedly teach about and testify of the divinity and living reality of our Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son; of our resurrected Redeemer; of the basic doctrine, principles, ordinances, and covenants of the Savior’s restored gospel; of the reality of the latter-day Restoration; and of the essential nature of priesthood authority and keys. …
“Repetition is a vehicle through which the Holy Ghost can enlighten our minds, influence our hearts, and enlarge our understanding.”
“Consider how often we hear exactly the same words in the ordinance of baptism, … in conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirming a new member of the Church, in the sacramental prayers, and in temple ordinances.”
A repetitious warning and promise
In a spirit of practicing what he was teaching, Elder Bednar repeated a warning and a promise he gave on the campus on other occasions: in 2006 when he spoke at a devotional assembly and presided at the groundbreaking for the BYU–Idaho Center, and in 2010 when he spoke in another assembly at the time the center was dedicated.
Drawing from the address of 2006, when the school was Ricks College, Elder Bednar repeated the warning and promise:
“In the authority of the holy apostleship, I now raise a voice of warning and make a solemn promise. If the day ever were to come that intellectual arrogance, a lack of appreciation, and a spirit of demanding entitlement take root on this campus—among the students, faculty, employees, or the administration, or within the community—then in that day the spirit of Ricks will be well on the way to being extinguished—and the heavenly influence and blessings that have prospered this institution and the people associated with it will be withdrawn. Conversely, as long as intellectual modesty, humility, gratitude, obedience, and frugality continue to characterize those who learn and serve at BYU–Idaho, then this university will shine forth ever brighter as a beacon of righteousness and of inspired educational innovation.”
He said some might ask why he repeated this message a third time.
“I am not the same man who warned and promised in 2006 and 2010. I am the same man, but I am different,” he said. “I have traveled the earth for more than a decade and visited countless homes of faithful Church members—the rich and the poor, the meek and the humble, the educated and the uneducated. Those converted and consecrated Latter-day Saints have changed me. …
“I witness firsthand the watchcare exercised by the leaders of this Church over the widow’s mite that makes it possible for you to be a student or an employee at this university. Those experiences have changed me.
“As sincere and earnest as I was in 2006 when I first delivered that warning and promise, I am many times more focused and intense about it today than I was then.
“This campus is not the same campus it was in 1997 (when he began his tenure as president of Ricks College) or 2006 or 2010. …
“And precisely because you and the university are being blessed and prospered, the warning and promise are needed a third time. Using the language of the Old Testament prophet Haggai, I invite you to carefully and prayerfully ‘consider your ways’ (Haggai 1:5, 7).
“Is your pride allowing intellectual arrogance to creep into your mind and heart?
“Are you forgetting the Lord and failing to appreciate His bounteous blessings and promises?
“Are you turning inward, becoming self-centered, and gradually developing an attitude of personal privilege and entitlement?
“These insidious spiritual flaws can develop in us so subtly that we may not recognize or respond to them. As you ponder these questions sincerely and with real intent, I promise the Holy Ghost will help you to see yourself as you ‘really are’ (Jacob 4:13) and to identify both the things you presently are doing well and the course corrections you need to make in your life.”
Elder David A. Bednar visits BYU-Idaho and speaks at devotional January 26, 2016. Photo by Katelyn Crompton.