Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr. invites students to combine ‘mind and spirit’ in lifelong learning

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Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr. addressed BYU students about the importance of learning with both the heart and the mind.  (Savannah Hopkinson)

General Authority Seventy Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr. encouraged students to allow the spirit and the mind to work together in his devotional address Jan. 16.

Elder Curtis attended BYU in the early 1970s. He said many important things occurred in his life during this time.

“One of the important things that happened to me during my days as a student at BYU was coming to appreciate what can happen as the mind and the heart, or Spirit, work together,” Elder Curtis said.

Elder Curtis said his appreciation of this principle happened in multiple ways, including in the classes he took. Elder Curtis took a Book of Mormon class from C. Terry Warner — the director of the BYU Honors Program and professor of philosophy at the time — during his first semester at BYU.

“During each class session Brother Warner asked what insights we had had during our reading, and he also shared insights that he had had concerning those chapters,” Elder Curtis said. “The result was electrifying.  The Spirit was very strong as bright minds and willing hearts combined in discussing the teachings and applications of those Book of Mormon chapters.”

Elder Curtis continued this type of learning throughout his time at BYU. He said what he experienced in his classes at BYU fits within with the statement, “A spiritually strengthening education warms and enlightens students by the bright fire of their teachers’ faith while enlarging their minds with knowledge.”

The combination of the spirit and the mind was not limited to his formal education at BYU, according to Elder Curtis. He said the words of powerful intellects and their devotion to the Lord challenged his thinking and demonstrated how the principles of the gospel required his “very best thinking” and “very best living”.

In addition, Elder Curtis said his association with fellow students also enlightened his mind.

“My days at BYU included the blessing of getting to know many students whose commitment to the Lord and serious academic preparation paved the way for their service in the Church, in their families and in organizations around the country,” Elder Curtis said.

He said these friends embodied the current aims of BYU: “A BYU education should be (1) spiritually strengthening, (2) intellectually enlarging, and (3) character building, leading to (4) lifelong learning and service.”

“As we rejoice in the blessing of being able to think, and to learn, it is imperative that we never lose our sense of humility before God,” Elder Curtis said. “The greatest thinking in the world is ‘foolishness’ and ‘profiteth’ nothing if the thinker does not hearken to the counsel of God.”

Elder Curtis encouraged students to remember that God comprehends everything while man only comprehends a little. He said staying in the “depths of humility” allows people to recognize the need for God’s wisdom in their lives.

Elder Curtis said President Russell M. Nelson — sustained on Jan. 14, 2018, as the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — is a great example of humility. His impressive credentials as a scholar and a heart surgeon, in addition to his medical research brought professional recognition from all over the world.

“But, during that career, he was also faithful to the Lord and his church and took on important church callings as they came,” Elder Curtis.

President Nelson also heeded President Spencer W. Kimball’s invitation to learn Mandarin Chinese, which allowed President Nelson to form associations with important officials in China and bless the people there.

Elder Curtis said President Henry B. Eyring is another example of humility. He said President Eyring excelled as a scholar and has spent his life learning.

“A study of President Eyring’s life shows that humility exemplified over and over,” Elder Curtis said.

Elder Curtis said he has seen this same humility in other leaders of the church. He said many apostles have advanced degrees from prestigious schools and other significant accomplishments, yet they don’t let these degrees and accomplishments keep them from being humble.

Elder Curtis said the prime example of humility is Jesus Christ.

“In all that He did, He sought only the glory of the Father, and to see the Father’s will done,” Elder Curtis said. “He resisted every temptation of Satan, including the temptation to receive honor and glory.  He committed no sin, but humbly accepted the responsibility to suffer the incomparable pain required to pay for the sins of all mankind – including your sins and my sins.”

Elder Curtis concluded his address by expressing gratitude for the minds and hearts God has given man and the patience to learn ‘grace by grace’.

Sister Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities and first counselor in the general presidency of the Relief Society of the LDS Church, will deliver the forum address next week on Jan. 23

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