At a recent meeting of the BYU Management Society, Shanghai Chapter, our speaker was Jessica Liu, a local Chinese woman in a prestigious position at Marriott International and a graduate of BYU-Hawaii. She talked about the importance of adding new skills as one of the many small things we need to do in life to prepare for future opportunities. She began with a painful story.
As a student in a marketing program at BYU-Hawaii, she sometimes had to prepare presentations and images for a class. She had a roommate who was proficient in Photoshop, and several times asked her for help. Once her roommate said something like, “I can do this for you, but how about if I show you the basics of Photoshop so you can do this yourself whenever you need it?” Jessica thought for a moment and figured that she just needed help once or twice more, and since she was going into marketing and not graphic design, there really wasn’t a need for that. “Umm, I’m not going to need that in the future, so how about if you just do it?” Her patient roommate understood and edited the image for her.
Not long after that Jessica had the opportunity to interview with a great company offering a position that looked like her dream job. The interviewer was impressed with her resume and background. In the interview, he said that she appeared to be a great fit. “I just have one question,” he said. “Can you use Photoshop?” Jessica’s heart sank. He explained that in this marketing position, the candidate would need to be able to edit images to prepare marketing materials, so Photoshop skills were essential.
Jessica told the truth and didn’t get an offer. It was a terrible disappointment, but she resolved to not make that mistake again and to keep growing and adding skills.
One of the most distressing things I encounter in the world is stagnation of human talent. When people quit growing, when they feel no need to develop new talents, explore new fields of knowledge, set and achieve personal goals, and become something more in life, it makes me wonder why they wish to go on living at all.
In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, at least as taught among the Latter-day Saints and I hope many other places, I love the vision of personal growth and overcoming that is presented to us. We are urged to not give up, to endure to the end, to overcome personal weaknesses and add new layers of faith, knowledge, and ability. I love to see that hunger for growth in people. The late Hugh Nibley had it. He seemed to always be learning and exploring new things up to the end. Don’t let age or health stop you. There is so much to achieve, to learn, and to do, wherever you are in life.
From Paul in Phil. 3:
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample….
20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Peter in 2 Peter 1, sounding like something of a closet Mormon, I’m afraid, writes to Christians who already have faith in Christ, and like Paul urges them to press forward. He offers a list of things to add to their foundation of faith so that they might be (gasp!) partakers of the divine nature:
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.
And then from the revelations to Joseph Smith, we have passages like Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;…
79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you….
118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
119 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.
To be able to minister effectively here in mortality, the Lord asks us to learn about nature and science, history and politics, other nations and international events, etc. He asks us to seek learning and turn to the best books (not necessarily the most entertaining video or YouTube clips, by the way). There’s no end to what we should be learning and achieving in our lives as we follow the Savior Jesus Christ. As we’ve been taught recently by Gordon B. Hinckley and others, “Get all the education you can!” Education is actually a commandment for us Mormons, and one I’m so grateful for.
The journey isn’t over once we accept Christ as our Savior. That’s the beginning of an endless but beautiful journey as we strive to follow the One who said, “Come, follow me.”