Teacher, My Pencil Ran Out of Ink!

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“Teacher, My Pencil Ran Out of Ink!” Ensign, Oct. 1997, 65–66

“Teacher, My Pencil Ran Out of Ink!”

As a principal and teacher, I enjoy the opportunity I have to share children’s eagerness to learn and to try new experiences. The first few days of school are always exciting, especially for first-graders, who now attend a whole day of school, have their own desks, and eat lunch at school.

Several years ago, the children in my class were busily working on an assignment when I noticed that one little boy had put his head down on the desk and was sobbing.

I knelt beside his desk and asked him what was wrong.

With tears running down his face, certain that his career in school was over after only three brief days, he looked up at me and said, “Oh, Teacher, my pencil ran out of ink!”

Sensing his utter discouragement, I hid my impulse to laugh and showed him how to use the pencil sharpener. He was delighted at such a simple solution and quickly went back to work.

This incident has given me much food for thought. Aren’t we all a little like that boy—eager to learn and to grow and ready to experience life? And don’t we all, at some point or other, “run out of ink”—become discouraged or unhappy?

Whatever the reason for our distress, the solution can be found in the tools of the gospel. Just as the sharpener restored the pencil, the tools of repentance, scripture study, prayer, obedience, and service can restore our vitality and effectiveness.

Like the lead in the pencil waiting to be used, our potential is internal and limitless, waiting to be tapped and put to work.

How thankful I am for the tools of the gospel, which sharpen and refine me, and for others’ willingness to teach me how to use them.