What is a divine mission?
Just as the Lord knew Jeremiah and ordained him to be a prophet in Israel (Jeremiah 1:5), I believe the Lord knew each person who has come to the earth and asked them to fulfill certain mortal missions. Wendy Watson Nelson says, “premortally you and I were each given wonderful missions to fulfill while we are here on earth. We have opportunities to fulfill our mortal missions, but we don’t have to. No one will make us. We have our agency to choose how we spend our time and energy, our talents and resources” (Hope of Israel).
Of all the things I want my children to gain from the education, it is a better understanding of themselves and how they can become who God intends for them to be. I hope that their education will enable them to fulfill their divine missions.
I’ve compiled a short list of influential people and their education. I’ll be talking to my kids about these people and explaining that learning is an important part of fulfilling our divine missions. I hope these people inspire you as well! I have taken the liberty of assuming that these people fulfilled their divine missions, but I think that most people will agree that they did.
People Who Loved Learning and Fulfilled their Divine Mission
Martin Luther King Jr.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, I thought I would discover what his education was like. He graduated from high school at age fifteen, having skipped two grades. His study in college led him to ideas that inspired his civil rights activism, including Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. He was also inspired by the life of Gandi. I love that he worked so hard for civil rights despite intense persecution. The day before he died he said, “I just want to do God’s will” (“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop“).
Joseph Smith Jr.
In contrast, Joseph Smith had only had a few years of formal schooling. His wife said that at the time he translated the Book of Mormon he “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the the Book of Mormon” (“Book of Mormon Translation“). Yet, he was able to translate the Book of Mormon because of his ability to connect with God. He said, “I was born … of goodly parents who spared no pains to instruct me in the Christian religion” (“The Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith“). His story always reminds me of the importance of learning by faith as well as by study.
Florence Nightingale studied hard as a young girl, learning several languages, history, and mathematics. She said she felt called of God to relieve human suffering (biography). Despite her family’s objections for pursuing something below her class level, she enrolled in training for nursing skills. Her persistence in studying and excellence in nursing care allowed her to improve nursing around the world, fulfilling her divine mission.
Henry Eyring was a prolific chemist who wrote a lot about the connections between science and religion. I love the way his son describes their home: filled with black boards, ideas about life, the world, science, and God. He thought “if you live a decent life and have the Holy Ghost and you’re fairly intelligent, you’ll find the truth one way or another,” and he said, “I never met a man I couldn’t learn something from” (“President Henry B. Eyring: A Legacy of Learning and Testimony“). He encouraged his kids to pursue their passions in learning, and showed it by his passion for learning. He made great contributions to his field and encouraged many to believe in God.
I feel like this list could go on and on (Abraham Lincoln, the Founding Fathers), but these are a few of the people I’ve learned about who stand out to me as great examples of learning and being tutored by God to fulfill their divine missions. I’m sharing these people with my kids this week, to hopefully get them excited about learning and making their contribution to the world, no matter how big or small. I’ll also go through our family history stories for a few examples too, to show them that fulfilling your divine mission does not always make you well-known