Wednesday, February 28, 2018

President Harold B. Lee on continuing to learn throughout life

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"I read recently from a column in the Washington Post, by George Moore.... In this article he said, 'I have spent the last twenty years of my life at Mount Vernon reducing my ignorance.' He claimed that a person never learns anything until he realizes how little he knows. In this article he makes this most illuminating observation about George Washington:
"'Washington never went to school. That's why he was an educated man, he never quit learning.'
"What George Moore said of himself I suppose could be said of many of you and of myself: 'I have spent more than three score years of my life reducing my ignorance.'
"Therein, it is my conviction, is the challenge to all who achieve distinction in any field. Some quit learning when they graduate from a school; some quit learning about the gospel when they have completed a mission for the Church; some quit learning when they become an executive or have a prominent position in or out of the Church.
"Remember, as George Moore said of Washington, 'We can become educated persons, regardless of our stations in life, if we never quit learning.'"
- Harold B. Lee, "The Iron Rod," General Conference, April 1971
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The warning of Nephi comes to mind: "When they are learned they think they are wise..." (2 Ne 9:28). The wise understand that as they gain learning, they have so much left to learn, and that as President Lee points out, " a person never learns anything until he realizes how little he knows."

Our goal should be to never cease learning; to continue to "reduce our ignorance." For those of us "getting on in life" it would be good to evaluate periodically how we are responding to this charge! Are we truly growing in knowledge and wisdom? Are we reading, studying, stretching, seeking new settings and opportunities? What efforts are we making to ensure that happens in our lives?

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

No comments:

Post a Comment

// Customization to close archive widget on first view - DK 3/15