Thursday, September 6, 2018

President Spencer W. Kimball on spiritual education and training

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Our training must not only teach us how to build dams and store water to dampen parched earth to make the desert blossom as the rose and feed starving humanity, but it must prepare us to dam our carnal inclinations and desires with self-denial, creating reservoirs to be filled with spirituality.
"We must study not only to cultivate fertile acres, plant seeds therein, and nurture them on to harvests, but we must plant in the hearts of men seeds of cleanliness and righteous living and faith and hope and peace.
"We must not only know how to kill weeds and noxious plants which befoul our crops, but learn to eradicate from the souls of men the noxious theories and manmade sophistries which would cloud issues and bring heartache and distress to men.
"We must not only be trained to inoculate and vaccinate and immunize against disease, set broken limbs, and cure illnesses, but we must be trained to clarify minds, heal broken hearts and create homes where sunshine will make an environment in which mental and spiritual health may be nurtured....
"Our schooling must not only teach us how to bridge the Niagara River gorge, or the Golden Gate, but must teach us how to bridge the deep gaps of misunderstanding and hate and discord in the world."
- Spencer W. Kimball, Safford Arizona High School Commencement, 5/16/46; see TSWK 391

It's interesting to consider the setting for this quote. A young Spencer W. Kimball (48 at the time) had been serving as stake president in Safford, Arizona where he was raising his family and was co-owner of an insurance business. Shortly after being called as an apostle and moving to Salt Lake City, he's asked to return to his hometown to speak at high school graduation. This poetic excerpt is from that address. I love how he compares the training offered in our worldly pursuits with the spiritual training and skills that are even more important to our success and happiness.

Note how appropriate the examples are for a small rural community such as Safford was: storing water for irrigation, cultivating lands and raising crops, controlling weeks and invasive crops, dealing with diseases and injuries, and solving basic engineering tasks. For each of these he offers a spiritual corollary that he invites his listeners to seek as part of their life-training. Wonderful counsel for all of us, not just for high school graduates!

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

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