Let's start off by saying that I already quite thoroughly relate to and enjoy the way that Elder David A. Bednar speaks and structures his talks. I was quite excited when this book came out in 2011 so that I could learn more about learning! Particularly in the Gospel, but some of his book applies generally.
I am going to go through and highlight a couple thoughts/phrases from each chapter that caused me to stop, think and/or reflect on how I am doing in the area of personal learning.
Chapter 1: An Individual Responsibility to Learn
"Are you and I truly agents who act and seek to learn, or are we waiting to be acted upon and relying exclusively on other people to teach us?"--P.4
This is a principle that Elder Bednar places lots of emphasis on. Do we make our own choices to do good? Do we reach out to those around us? Do we step up and volunteer? As he points out, do we wait for others to teach us? I love learning, particularly about the Gospel. I make decisions to study my scriptures, to not just read them, but to search them for answers, to search them for what God would have me do, to understand my relation to Him and Jesus Christ, to have faith in dire times and to be motivated, among other reasons.
"'The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity--thou must commune with God.'"--P.6-7, this is a quote from Joseph Smith that Elder Bednar quotes--just to clarify :-)
Joseph Smith was a great example of learning the things of God. He received revelation upon revelation by asking question after question and serving person after person. You know, I personally don't think I stretch my mind high enough to the utmost heavens or low enough to the contemplate the darkest abyss and the broad expanse of eternity. Imagine what things God has in store for us as we stretch our thoughts and dwell on the spiritual things. Think of questions that you've always had, now, think about searching for that answer, have you communed with God in searching? What does Joseph Smith teach us here that is important to communing? That we need to stretch our minds all over! These things aren't given lightly. Reach, push, pull and stretch our minds. I'm not the best at this, but I'm getting better.
"'Put forth your ability to learn as fast as you can, and gather all the strength of mind and principle of faith you possibly can, and then distribute your knowledge to the people'"--P.9, this is a quote from Brigham Young that Elder Bednar quotes.
How fast are we learning? Do we think it is important to learn the things of God quickly? Or do we put other things before our Spiritual learning? Ever had one of those days where you don't have time to study anything from the scriptures? Yeah...those days have happened to me before, but the problem with them is that we are putting so many other things before what is really important and we don't see how important it truly is that we "gather all the strength of mind and principle of faith [we] possibly can". This is followed by the instruction to "then distribute [our] knowledge to the people". This is something I didn't understand before. I always studied for myself and sought learning and strength of mind and to increase my faith, but I didn't think about doing it in order to build the Kingdom of God by distributing that knowledge. That is one way we contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God.
"None of us...knows enough. The learning process is an endless process. We must read, we must observe, we must assimilate, and we must ponder that to which we expose our minds...You cannot afford to stop. You must not rest in your development....There is so much to learn and so little time in which to learn it.'"--P.11, quoting Gordon B. Hinckley
You're never enough, what a thing to hear from President Hinckley. I love reading, observing, assimilating and pondering, but I'm never done. Oh, and keep in mind that we have to learn SO much more than we think and SO little time to learn it in. A very good reminder to put learning before leisure.
"Spiritual knowledge cannot be given by or borrowed from another person. Shortcuts to the desired destination do not exist. Cramming for the ultimate final examination on the day of judgement is not an option."--P.16
Ok, Elder Bednar quote again, it's his book, so you'd think there would be more here from him, but I will get to more of him in the next three chapters. Anyway, I find this another motivating quote to acquire spiritual knowledge, why? Because I have to get it for myself! It is not something that can be given to me from another person. Cramming doesn't work like it does for some school tests--notice, "some", cramming hasn't worked for me in collegiate engineering very well...
Feel free to comment and share your thoughts and insights on these quotes. Remember, these are just highlights that stuck out to me. If you have other parts that you liked, feel free to share them below!
This is part one of a four part series on "Increase in Learning" by Elder David A. Bednar.