Learning Little by Little

I’m currently studying (amongst other things) a book by Gerald N. Lund entitled ‘In Tune: The Role of the Spirit in Teaching and Learning’. I’ve only just been getting into it but it taught a parable which I quite liked and I felt was a good learning opportunity.

The Parable

Lund likens the process of learning and change in the Gospel like a family who agrees a contract to build a house. He says how the family are very excited and gather to watch the progress on this new development in their life. He describes as follows:

“In a matter of hours, a place is made for the new building…In the first weeks, almost day by day, some dramatic changes take place. The flooring goes on. Walls seem to spring up, and soon the house is framed. Rafters and trusses appear overnight, and soon the house has a roof and windows.

But there comes the day when the outer construction is done and the house is what contractors call “dried in”. Now comes the plumbing and the electrical work. This is a very different stage of construction. These are not highly visible efforts. Often what happens goes unseen by the casual observer. In this phase, it is not uncommon to hear comments such as “Nothing is happening,” or “The work has stopped.” Of course, that is not true. The wires and plugs and switches and pipes are just as essential to the home as are the walls and floor…”


Lund then makes the comment:

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a child or student or a Church member were to exclaim “Wow! You totally changed my life today.””

I often think that if a talk or lesson I have delivered is taught by the Spirit then that means it will change the life of all those who have listened. They will stop and ponder over the things I have said and they have been made to feel and change something in their life. In some cases, this has happened. When I was serving as an Elders Quorum President I once led a discussion on effective scripture study., covering aspects on why it is important, what looks like effective study and some practical tools to help our study be more effective (some techniques, tools etc). One of my Home Teachers was a member of that Quorum. In discussions in our home, he twice mentioned this lesson in our Quorum meeting, stating that he remembered this topic taught in our Quorum meeting even though weeks had turned to months. What was really encouraging though was both times he mentioned that specific lesson in our discussions he would always not remember who physically taught the lesson until after a couple of minutes until he’d say “Oh, it was you who taught it,” showing me that (fortunately) I hadn’t really taught the lesson, the Spirit had. The lesson he learnt was more valuable and memorable than who had taught it. This is an example of when we might experience a learning opportunity where dramatic changes happen in our learning journey. The scriptures do also have examples where children of God learnt a principle in a dramatic fashion – Paul, Enos, Alma the Younger and King Lamoni are a few to name. However, as with the building of the house, these are fewer than we might expect.

We are taught in the scriptures that we are to learn “line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little and there a little…” (D&C  128:21) and, in the similar fashion to a house, we have to expect that those who we teach may not change instantly – but change will happen as long as the teacher continues to invite the Spirit and the learner is willing to receive the tutelage of the Spirit.


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