I’ve been in the LDS publishing industry a long time, so a lot of books have washed over me through the years. Many have inspired me, uplifted me, and helped shape my testimony. But few have truly changed the way I see the world.
Increase in Learning, by Elder David A. Bednar, is one of those few. Its basic premise, that the answers to all of our questions are found in the truths of the gospel, is deceptively simple. It’s one thing to believe the answers are there. It’s quite another to figure out how to find them.
What this book does is give me a new way to approach the questions I’m asking. It helps me understand how to go deeper, both in my studying and in my praying. It gives me tools and makes me want to learn, to explore, to ponder—and I’ve got to admit, I don’t always feel that way. As Elder Bednar tells one young man on the DVD, “If this has taken you out of your comfort zone, I am deliriously happy!”
This reminds me to mention the DVD. It is a priceless opportunity to feel like you’re being taught directly by an apostle. There’s a wonderful Q&A session with a group of young adults and a personal interview with Elder and Sister Bednar talking about the concepts in the book; both are crucial connection points that help you digest the book’s contents much more effectively. The more you see the pattern Elder Bednar follows, the more excited you get to go out and try it out for yourself.
I find myself now applying the simple question he asks over and over in an unbelievable variety of circumstances. It helped me address a poignant question asked me by a woman I was visit teaching. I pondered it when I was trying to figure out how to help a child who was struggling. I think about it in the quiet moments when I’m reaching to become who Heavenly Father needs me to be.
I’m not going to tell you the question. It won’t make enough sense outside the context of the book. But you have to believe me when I tell you that the deeper you get in to this material, the brighter it gets. It felt like work in the beginning. (Remember when you were learning to drive a car, and you wondered if you’d ever get the hang of it? Or maybe you were better at it than I was; I had the girls in my driving group hanging on for dear life in the backseat for the first few weeks.) Similarly, I wasn’t sure I understood at first what Elder Bednar was driving at; in fact, I wasn’t sure I even cared. But the more I tried, the clearer it got, until now I can’t imagine viewing the world any other way.
This book is an incredible gift from a uniquely gifted teacher-thinker-leader. I will be forever grateful that I accepted Elder Bednar’s invitation to become “an agent who acts.” It has helped me feel reengaged in my own life.
To learn more about this book, visit deseretbook.com.
To read more book reviews by Emily Watts, visit emilywatts.com.