September, 23, 2011

Joseph Smith, God’s Student

The title of this post is from one of the displays in our gallery that has been quite intriguing to me. What an honor to be called “God’s student!” What qualified Joseph Smith to receive this title? His 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 did not know which church to join, he sought for answers by studying the scriptures, talking to his parents and family, attending various religious services, and asking questions of the local ministers and church leaders.

Much of our learning will come in the same way. In fact, it often feels like 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). Similarly, 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.

We can be God’s students as we receive personal revelation. It almost goes without saying that Joseph learned largely in this way. As we seek to be worthy and invite the Spirit into our lives, we also will be taught by revelation. The promptings we receive will put the information we are learning into perspective and help us see the relevance and application of the material.

I had such an experience recently as I read my American Heritage textbook. As I was learning about the tools the nation’s founders used in creating our government, I realized that these same principles ought to be used when founding and forming our families. My perspective of what 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 Smith was taught and always seek to learn in this way: through study, experience, and revelation.

-Kirk Perry, Education in Zion Gallery Educator