Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gary E. Stevenson on gaining knowledge and understanding

Elder Gary E. Stevenson (b. 1955) was called as a Seventy in 2008, then as Presiding Bishop in 2012. He was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015. This address was given while he was serving as Presiding Bishop.
"Now consider again: 'And with all thy getting get understanding' (Prov 4:7). Understanding in this context follows intelligence, knowledge, experience, wisdom, and promptings from the Holy Ghost—all of which lead us to understanding or to know and do what is right.
"Most of you seated here today are approaching or have entered a critical intersection or crossroads in your life. You are becoming more independent with each year of your life that passes, and you are moving deeper into the 'and with all thy getting' phase of your life. What is it that you are going to be getting? It may be getting a husband or a wife, your own family, a car, a job, a salary, a house, and a mortgage, to name a few. In order to manage these very important things that we 'get,' one must also obtain 'understanding,' as the scripture teaches. This understanding comes through an interdependence of study and prayer. Said another way, one must have trust or reliance upon the Lord. Alma described this when he likened the word unto a seed. As he stated, 'It beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me' (Alma 32:28, emphasis added).
"President Monson often quotes a scripture from Proverbs that adds another dimension about this understanding: 'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding' (Proverbs 3:5).
"As we trust and rely on the Lord, a greater measure of understanding comes from Him into our heart—rather than our own understanding, which comes to our head."
- Gary E. Stevenson, "Lean Not unto Thine Own Understanding," BYU Devotional, January 14, 2014
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Stevenson offered counsel to BYU students that applies to all of us. We are encouraged to learn, but must be careful that in all our getting of knowledge and information, we also get understanding. He discussed his own evolving understanding of that concept in this talk. One of the essential points is this—understanding comes as we learn not just with our minds but also with our spirits:

I've always loved Alma's description of the process of gaining spiritual knowledge, when it begins to "enlighten my understanding" and then "beginneth to be delicious to me." True learning, in the best way, is very delicious and soul-satisfying!

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