The importance of education is a recurring theme both in the scriptures and in the teachings of latter-day prophets and apostles. Church members have repeatedly been counseled to obtain all the education they can and to prepare themselves to contribute wherever they are.
President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, who spoke at services dedicating two buildings at Brigham Young University–Idaho on December 17, said that education, particularly gospel knowledge, doesn’t come all at once or without effort.
Scriptures about Education
The scriptures contain many exhortations for the Lord’s people to educate themselves. Here are some to consider:
- D&C 130:18–19: We will keep the knowledge we gain in this life when we go to the next life.
- Proverbs 1:5: Those who are wise will seek learning.
- D&C 88:118: We should seek learning by study and by faith.
- D&C 90:15: We are to be familiar with good books, languages, and cultures.
- For additional references on education, see the Topical Guide entry for Education.
“We cannot see the future with precision, but we can know what the Lord intends to accomplish and what it will take [for] each of us to qualify personally to participate,” President Eyring said. Education is a subject he has often addressed, during his tenure as President of Ricks College (now BYU–Idaho), while serving as Church Commissioner of Higher Education, during his service as an Apostle, and as a Counselor in the First Presidency.
In a message published in the New Era magazine in April 2009, President Eyring said, “The Lord and His Church have always encouraged education to increase our ability to serve Him and our Heavenly Father’s chlidren. For each of us, whatever our talents, He has service for us to give. And to do it well always involves learning, not once or for a limited time, but continually.”
For this reason, he said in that same message, “true learning must have a powerful spiritual component. That spiritual element, when it is effective, refines and uplifts the aims of our total education. . . . Remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life. When you see that reality clearly, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning. In fact, you will work harder at your secular learning than you would without that spiritual vision.”
He also cautioned that “your education must never stop. If it ends at the door of the classroom on graduation day, we will fail. And we will need the help of heaven to know which of the myriad things we could study we would most wisely learn. . . .
“The real life we’re preparing for is eternal life,” President Eyring said. “Secular knowledge has for us eternal significance. Our conviction is that God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to live the life that He does.”
- Read comments from President Eyring about education.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who also participated in the dedicatory assembly, has stressed the importance of education many times in his ministry. For example, on January 26, 2010, at a BYU–Idaho devotional, he explained to students that obtaining an education is not just an opportunity, it’s also a religious responsibility.
“Your mind is precious! It is sacred,” he said at that time. “Therefore, the education of one’s mind is also sacred. Indeed, education is a religious responsibility. Of course, our opportunities and abilities will vary a great deal. But, in the pursuit of one’s education, individual desire is more important than is the institution you choose; personal drive is more significant than is the faculty.
“Our Creator expects His children everywhere to gain an education as a personal endeavor. He issued this commandment: “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118; emphasis added). When you leave this frail existence, your material possessions will remain here, but the Lord has declared that the knowledge you acquire here will rise with you in the resurrection (see D&C 130:18–19). In light of this celestial perspective, if you impulsively drop out or otherwise cut short your education, you would not only disregard a divine decree but also abbreviate your own eternal potential.”
- For a full transcript of that address, click here.
Elder David A. Bednar speaks at the dedication of the BYU–Idaho Center on December 17, 2010.
While he was serving as president of Ricks College before it became BYU–Idaho, Elder Bednar addressed audiences at one of the campus-sponsored education weeks. In that address given in 1999, he addressed the importance of parents teaching their children.
“Parents are not simply to teach their children,” Elder Bednar said. “Rather, they are to teach them to understand. And understanding is a gift from God.
“. . . Within a Christ-centered home, love, trust, and confidence invite the presence of the Holy Ghost. In such a home the Holy Ghost can teach children to understand. Ultimately, it is not parents who do the teaching. Certainly, parents must diligently and effectively explain basic gospel doctrines, teach true principles, and share sacred experiences. But who truly does the teaching and certifies the truthfulness of what we come to know? The Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead. He is the Comforter who knows all things. He is thereby able to search the minds and hearts of all of us and then tailor a blessing to us, according to our individual needs and circumstances. And it is teaching and certifying by the Spirit that produces understanding. Parents in Zion have the responsibility to establish and maintain that type of Christ-centered and spirit-filled home.”
- To read that entire speech, click here.