Friday, November 13, 2015

Dale G. Renlund on being willing lifelong learners

Elder Dale G. Renlund (b. November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"We need to pay attention and give heed to counsel we receive from trusted sources and commit ourselves to becoming lifelong determined learners. Sometimes we can become... unwilling to listen to counsel from even trusted sources if that counsel does not conform to our biases and desires. We can create an environment that makes others become... fearful of giving their best counsel and advice. When we fail to invite and heed counsel from trusted sources, we decrease our spiritual stability and fall into the trap of building a tall, skinny, top-heavy spiritual ship—a boat that won't float.
"President Henry B. Eyring has pointed out that one of the pitfalls of gaining knowledge is the development of hubris, which is the arrogance that can come when we think we know so much that there is nothing left to learn. We have all seen this in individuals who are too certain of their own brilliance. It is really hard to teach a know-it-all. This educational hubris can occur in both students and university professors, in inexperienced as well as experienced Church leaders, and in new converts and longtime members of the Church. It appears that the risk, however, is greater in those with more education and more experience.
"Mindful of this risk and desirous to be a lifelong determined learner, President Eyring said, 'I am still a child with lots to learn. Most folks can teach me something.' When he extended the call to me to be a General Authority, President Eyring taught me an important lesson. He said that when he hears someone tell a story that he has heard before or use a scripture that he is very familiar with, he asks himself the questions Why is the Lord underlining that for me? and What have I yet to learn from that story or scripture? Likewise, if we wish to increase our spiritual stability, we will be willing to learn and we will be sufficiently humble to accept guidance no matter our age and experience."
- Dale G. Renlund, "Constructing Spiritual Stability," BYU Devotional, Sept 16, 2014
Click here to read the full address

The pattern of listening to counsel from "trusted sources" is not always as easy as it might seem, according to Elder Renlund. We can fall into patterns where not only do we fail to heed the counsel of others, but we create an environment where that counsel is less freely given.

I love the example given of President Eyring, one of my heroes. He warns of hubris — the excessive arrogance that makes us feel aloof from what others might have to offer. Then he demonstrates its opposite in his sincere and humble willingness to learn. What a valuable, noble way to live!

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