“Wanting love is good and wanting to excel is good. The trouble comes from trying to tie them together. Pursue love and pursue excellence – pursue them with abandon. But you will spoil the joy native to each if you spend your life wanting to be loved because you are loved. Love is for its own sake. It works only as a gift, never a reward. It can’t be earned or bartered or not given at all.”
“For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea—it’s a commandment.”
Nikolai Berdyaev taught the same principle:
“A false interpretation of ‘good works’ leads to a complete perversion of Christianity. ‘Good works’ are regarded not as an expression of love for God and man, not as a manifestation of the gracious source that gives life to others, but as a means of salvation and justification for oneself, as a way of realizing the abstract idea of the Good and receiving a reward in the future life. ‘Good works,’ done not for the good of others, but for the good of one’s own soul, are not good at all. Where there is no love, there is no goodness. Love does not require or expect any reward, it is reward in itself, it is a ray of paradise illuminating and transfiguring reality.”
You can’t merely snap your fingers and get great faith in God, any more than you can snap your fingers and get great musical ability. Faith takes hold of us only when we take hold of it. The great psychologist, William James, said, “That which holds our attention determines our action,” and one of the unfortunate things in life is that we sometimes focus our attention on the wrong things.
“Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life.”
What is faith? Faith is absolute confidence in that which is in absolute conformity to the will of heaven. When we combine that confidence with absolute action on our part, we have faith.
“The poor use of time is a close cousin of idleness. As we follow the command to “cease to be idle” (D&C 88:124), we must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive. For example, it is wonderful to have the means of instant communication quite literally at our fingertips, but let us be sure that we do not become compulsive fingertip communicators. I sense that some are trapped in a new time-consuming addiction—one that enslaves us to be constantly checking and sending social messages and thus giving the false impression of being busy and productive…There is much that is good with our easy access to communication and information. I have found it helpful to access research articles, conference talks, and ancestral records, and to receive e-mails, Facebook reminders, tweets, and texts. As good as these things are, we cannot allow them to push to one side those things of greatest importance. How sad it would be if the phone and computer, with all their sophistication, drowned out the simplicity of sincere prayer to a loving Father in Heaven. Let us be as quick to kneel as we are to text….Electronic games and cyber acquaintances are no lasting substitute for real friends who can give an encouraging hug, who can pray for us and seek after our best interest. How grateful I have been to see quorum, class, and Relief Society members rally to the support of one another. On such occasions I have better understood what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints” (Ephesians 2:19).”
“I hope that you are not afraid of tough classes. I never did have a ‘cinch’ class. … You simply have to apply yourself. I hope that you want to be so well equipped that you can compete in this competitive world. I hope that you will learn to take responsibility for your decisions, whether they be in your courses of study which you elect to take, or whether they be in the direction of the academic attainments which you strive to achieve.
“My young brothers and sisters, don’t take counsel of your fears. Don’t say to yourselves, ‘I’m not wise enough, or I can’t apply myself sufficiently well to study this difficult subject or in this difficult field, so I shall choose the easier way.’ I plead with you to tax your talent, and our Heavenly Father will make you equal to those decisions.”
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”