All That Work for Nothing

“All That Work for Nothing,” New Era, Sept. 1992, 60

Special Issue:
Education—Learn Wisdom In Thy Youth

Scripture Lifeline:

All That Work for Nothing

I studied and slaved all year, and look what I had to show for it!

It was my junior year of high school, and I was taking the usual classes, including advanced placement (A.P.) American history. This was my most important class. I had waited two years to take it and was determined to succeed.

It was a difficult class. We had a test every week, research papers to do, weekly essays to write, and a class presentation now and then. I learned a lot, but I never could seem to do well on those awful tests.

The whole goal of the class was just to pass the infamous A.P. test at the end of the year. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Griffin, saying that it took at least a grade of three or above to pass. Those words rang through my mind night and day all year long.

I worked as hard in that class as I thought I possibly could. I studied every day, met with a tutor, took notes in class, did my weekly essays on time, and paid close attention. I decided the worst thing that could happen would be to fail.

Spring rolled around, and my best friend, Emily, and I began studying together. We discussed, wrote, and memorized. The first evening went smoothly, and when I got home I prayed, “Heavenly Father, please help me to pass this test. Help me to make this year worthwhile.” My prayer the next night and the next was much the same.

I could feel May 15 coming closer until it arrived. I got up and, just like every morning, got down on my knees and prayed. But this morning was special. “Heavenly Father,” I prayed, “I’ve done everything I can do to pass this test. Please help me.” I went off to school with confidence.

“You may begin.” Those anxiously awaited words were spoken. The test was as difficult as I expected, but I really felt good as I filled in the answers. I finished the test and turned it in. I was so happy it was over, and I was sure I had passed. After all, I had studied and prayed and had even had a father’s blessing the night before.

Weeks went by, and I checked the mail every day for my scores. I thought they’d never come, but they finally did. I was lying down when my mom walked in.

“Kathy, I’m sorry,” she said. “You got a two.”

At first I thought I was dreaming, but it was real. I was so confused. What more could I have done? I was discouraged and upset that my prayers weren’t answered. I had prayed to pass the test, not fail.

I felt this way for about two weeks. Then one day I picked up the Doctrine and Covenants and read: “The glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36).

I tried to ignore the scripture. I didn’t feel intelligent. I felt like a failure. But after a while it dawned on me what I had done wrong. The glory of God is intelligence, not a three or above on an advanced placement test. I was basing my success on the score of an exam! I didn’t even think of how much I had learned in the class. I had forgotten the whole purpose of getting an education. I was more concerned with getting the answers right than pleasing myself and my Heavenly Father. I am so thankful for my education and will never forget this much-needed lesson.

Illustrated by Rob Westerberg