What does spending, sacrifice, responsibility, and learning have to do with each other?
I learned during Sunday School that all of these words seem to be connected in a significant way. These words all shed light on why learning is our own responsibility.
Come Follow Me Curriculum Is Inspired and Inspiring
On the first Sunday of January, I sat with my friends (brothers and sisters) in my ward to discuss the topic, “We are responsible for our own learning.” The ideas, experiences, testimonies, and thoughts they shared inspired and encouraged me, just as we would expect a great Sunday School experience should do.
Words Matter Because They Can Reveal Truth
As we discussed I wondered what the etymological root meaning, or origin, of the word responsible was. My go-to source is the Online Etymology Dictionary. The root meaning of responsible surprised me. And the meaning taught me some incredible insights.
The ancient Latin word respondere means “to respond, to answer to, to promise in return.”
Reponsible comes from two words brought together. The first is re- which means “again” or “new.” We find “re-” at the front of many words. For example, “resurrect / re-sur-rect” means “to stand upright again.”
The other word in responsible is spondere, which means “to pledge.”
Spondere itself derives from from ancient words that mean “to make a solemn offering” or “to perform a rite”. Anciently, the word seems to have been used to describe the act of ritually committing yourself to take on an obligation.
Even far more intriguing, one of the ancient languages (Hittite) used a form of the word responsible in contexts of ritual sacrifice.
And some scholars see the ancient Proto-Indo-European root word *spend at the foundation of the word responsible.
Our Spending Is Our Sacrifice, Our Commitment, Our Responsibility: Our Spending Shows Where Our Heart Is
Does that mean what we spend, what we put our money and time into, is the sacrifices that we ritually commit ourselves to?
If this is correct, then if we truly want to be responsible for our own learning, we must solemnly commit ourselves to the sacrifice of spending the required time (and money where necessary) essential to learn. Just as we cannot borrow the oil from someone else to have our own testimony burn bright, we likewise cannot buy, steal, or borrowing learning from someone else.
Re-conceptualizing Our Responsibility for Our Own Learning
Using these ancient words, how do we then redefine, or re-conceptualize, what our responsibility to learn is?
We must pay the price.
We must sacrifice to learn.
How we spend our time tells us what sacrifices are important to us.
We are responsible to ourselves and to God to make the sacrifice to spend our time pledged in the hard work of paying the price to learn.
For more thoughts on Responsible Learning see my post Learning: No Greater Responsibility.
Learning at the Feet of the Savior
I hope you found these insights valuable and empowering. If so, you may find more such insights in one of my recent books.
Together with my co-author David Ridges, we wrote Learning at the Feet of the Savior: Additional Insights from New Testament Background, Culture, and Setting to encourage people to ask questions and to use the scriptures and the example of Jesus to learn how to learn and to better understand how the scriptures apply to their lives.
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Parents know that responsible teaching comes from responsible learning. Learning comes from practicing success and failure, but like Joseph Smith said,” teach the Saints correct principles and they will govern themselves..”Whether they will, or can, is up to them.
As a parent, I feel that the school of teaching and learning is never finished. One of my greatest enjoyments in life is to converse with my grown children ( ten of them), and we teach and learn from each other with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost It is the best education, and we all come away edified
Colleen, You’ve identified the great joy and challenge of being a parent, and a human for that matter, that our learning and experiencing are never complete, never finished. I find that notion both awe-inspiring and exhilarating.