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Learning from President Eyring and Elder Maxwell 

Excerpt from Constructing Spiritual Stability by Dale G. Renlund who was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional was given on 16 September 2014.

President Henry B. Eyring has pointed out that one of the pitfalls of gaining knowledge is the development of hubris, which is the arrogance that can come when we think we know so much that there is nothing left to learn. We have all seen this in individuals who are too certain of their own brilliance. It is really hard to teach a know-it-all. This educational hubris can occur in both students and university professors, in inexperienced as well as experienced Church leaders, and in new converts and longtime members of the Church. It appears that the risk, however, is greater in those with more education and more experience.

Mindful of this risk and desirous to be a lifelong determined learner, President Eyring said, gI am still a child with lots to learn. Most folks can teach me something.h 4 When he extended the call to me to be a General Authority, President Eyring taught me an important lesson. He said that when he hears someone tell a story that he has heard before or use a scripture that he is very familiar with, he asks himself the questions Why is the Lord underlining that for me? and What have I yet to learn from that story or scripture? Likewise, if we wish to increase our spiritual stability, we will be willing to learn and we will be sufficiently humble to accept guidance no matter our age and experience.

On one occasion I was assigned to accompany Elder Neal A. Maxwell, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to a stake conference. It was marvelous to be with one of the most remarkable gospel teachers of this dispensation. At the conference I gained an insight into how he had developed and magnified what was undoubtedly a God-given gift. As we were driving away from the stake center on Saturday evening, he turned in his seat and asked me, gWhat could I have done better to teach the principles we taught?h

I thought he had to be joking. But he kept on grilling me until he extracted from me a comment about some minor thing that might have been slightly unclear. The next day, in the Sunday general session of the stake conference, he clarified that minor thing that I had mentioned. I realized that I was with a humble disciple of Jesus Christ who welcomed counsel, was committed to being a lifelong determined learner, and desired to become better.

How we receive counsel makes a difference in whether those around us will feel comfortable in giving us counsel. We can become prickly, cantankerous, and defensive, or we can welcome the input, knowing it is given with loving motives and, if taken in the right spirit, will help us learn and improve.

It really is our choice. We can listen to and heed counsel given to us by Church leaders, especially those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators; by parents; and by trusted friends—or not. We can seek to be determined lifelong learners—or not. We can increase our spiritual stability—or not.