I have spent most of my life involved in education. When I was younger, I thought education meant going to school, taking tests, and getting good grades. But as I grew older, I began to learn the difference between doing well in school and becoming educated. A person can do well on tests and still not be educated. True education is learning how to learn. Once I discovered that lesson, learning became fun.
One of the primary purposes of mortality is to learn—to gain knowledge and intelligence. Doctrine and Covenants 93:36 states, “The glory of God is intelligence.” You might think intelligence means being gifted in academic work, but intelligence also means applying the knowledge we obtain for righteous purposes.
Knowledge, both temporal and spiritual, comes in steps. My testimony grew line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little (see Isaiah 28:10)—the way it does for almost all members of the Church. As a boy, I recall my mother reading Book of Mormon and Church history stories to me. I felt a sweet, peaceful, reassuring feeling that what I was learning was true. This feeling developed into a sincere desire to learn more by studying the scriptures. Nothing has had a greater impact upon my life than reading, studying, and searching the scriptures in order to gain more knowledge and intelligence.
I grew up in California as a teenager during a time when evil influences, such as drugs and bad music, became increasingly popular. Because of the knowledge I had been blessed to receive, I chose not to participate in those things. I was preparing to become a missionary and serve the Lord. In the mission field, the knowledge that I was serving the Lord strengthened my determination to work hard in building His kingdom. Laboring as a missionary is perhaps one of the greatest ways to learn and obtain spiritual knowledge.
The real value of learning is that it enables you in any situation to be resourceful—to figure out what to do when you have no idea what to do! We are frequently taught in the scriptures to seek learning by study and by faith (see D&C 88:118). In our own lives, in our families, and in the Church, we can receive blessings of spiritual strength, direction, and protection as we seek by faith to gain intelligence and apply spiritual knowledge in righteousness.