“Be Smart,” New Era, Aug. 2002, 31
Almost every teenager dreams of having a new car to drive to school, to work, or anywhere else they need to go. Although it is fun having a car, at President Gordon B. Hinckley’s November 2000 youth fireside, he explained that a good education is more important than a car (see New Era, Jan. 2001, 4).
“You need all the education you can get,” he said. “Sacrifice a car, sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world.”
President Hinckley went on to explain that the Lord desires that we gain a good education. “The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training.”
It is important to plan for the future so that you can follow the Lord’s commandments—for as President Hinckley stated, “[The Lord] wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives.”
After hearing President Hinckley’s talk, 18-year-old Heather Hancock realized that obeying the Lord’s commandment to gain an education requires planning and sacrifice.
“I am a senior in high school faced with the decisions that go along with college. Where to go. How to pay for it. What to study. President Hinckley’s talk on being smart has helped me a great deal. There have been many times where I have thought about buying a new car or clothes, but the words from President Hinckley’s talk, ‘Sacrifice anything that is needed,’ come to mind. They have helped me to stay focused in school and save money for college. I know how important education is, and I am willing to sacrifice other material things to obtain it.”
Education is particularly important because it is something that will greatly affect our future. “The world will pay you what it thinks you are worth,” President Hinckley said. “And your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field.”
Because education is a worthy pursuit that is pleasing to the Lord, we can be assured He will help us as we strive to increase our knowledge and skills in our schoolwork or in our chosen field of work. Seventeen-year-old Annie Anderson feels the Spirit helped her improve her school studies.
“I didn’t exactly have to work hard at school until I went to high school. I was working but not as hard as I needed to to get the grades needed to go to a good college. When I heard President Hinckley’s counsel to try harder in school, I decided it was something that I needed to work on. I asked Heavenly Father to help me as I worked to get better grades. I have felt the Spirit as I study, and I know that when I have put forth the effort, Heavenly Father has helped me. There wasn’t a drastic change in my grades, nor did I become really smart overnight, but I know the Lord loves us and will help us accomplish what He asks us to do.”
In order to gain a good education in any area it is important to make good choices. In his talk, President Hinckley related a story about a railroad car that ended up 1,500 miles away from its destination because a railroad worker made a bad choice. Our lives, like a railroad car, may easily get on the wrong track. Poor decisions now may cause us to lose our chances for education in the future. As President Hinckley explained: “The movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but if continued, that very small movement becomes a great gap and we find ourselves far from where we intended to go.”
Anna Bardonski from Littleton, Colorado, discovered this truth after listening to President Hinckley’s counsel on being smart.
“Being a junior in high school I have realized that this year is a very important and crucial year. I realized that being smart is more than just trying to learn and trying to get good grades. It also means being smart in my choices, my actions, my schoolwork, my example, and the things that I say. As I prepare to go to college I realize I must try extra hard throughout the rest of the year and next year too. This has helped me be an example, prepare for college, and be smart in the choices I make.”
Just because we are commanded to get a good education does not mean we will not have obstacles and trials. Sometimes the adversary may try and get us off the right track and away from gaining a good education. Laura Anne Money from Elk Ridge, Utah, had an experience with this as she attempted to improve her education.
“I am often content to take the path of least resistance; occasionally I am unmotivated. This is evident by the college I am attending, and the easy classes I am taking. I feel unchallenged and uninspired. President Hinckley’s statement to Be smart made me realize it didn’t matter how intelligent I was. If I didn’t exercise my mind and actually do something with it, I would never reach my potential. I decided to apply to a much more challenging college. Chances were I would not be accepted, but that was a risk I was willing to take. The application process was a nightmare. Online, fax machines, forms, interviews, information; everything seemed to be going against me; nothing was going right! It seemed as if the adversary knew all my weaknesses (procrastination, forgetfulness, laziness, distractions) and threw them in my face all at once! I’d never felt such strong resistance to what I was trying to do.
“When I thought I’d just give up, I said a prayer asking if this is what I was supposed to do. I received two answers: Yes this is what I need to do, and it will work. The second was a realization that the adversary was so upset by my decision he was doing everything to stop me. After that prayer, everything fell into place. Being smart is more than just mind power, it is an action word, an act of will. I realized that by following one of President Hinckley’s B’s, the adversary would be defeated. Just think what would happen if I followed all of them!”
Laura is right. It is amazing what happens when we follow the counsel of the prophet. When we sacrifice all that we can to follow his advice to be smart we can expect great blessings. As President Hinckley stated: “There can be no doubt, none whatever, that education pays.”
Education will pay in both spiritual and secular ways. As we follow the mandate of the Lord, found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:79, to become educated in “things both in heaven and in the earth,” we will be blessed with great spiritual growth and wonderful earthly experiences that will help us live happy and successful lives.