The questions on all the administrators’ lips at the ACT 36ers luncheon were, “How many times did you take the test?” “How did you study? (not the kids, all the kids wanted to do was laugh and chat and complain about college applications. The 2011 Utah group consisted of ten boys, three girls– all well-rounded, delightful and humble.) For the sake of simplicity Stefan answered– “once” and “I took hard classes in school.” But the answer to the latter is far more complicated.
I’ve hesitated a long time to tell this story. I hope none of you will be offended. But my sister insists it should be told (and you know I always listen to my sister).
The Christmas of Stefan’s junior year he unwrapped two ACT prep books (because I’m so nice that way). With four AP classes he never found time to study the books and once he conquered the AP tests, end of school crazy-busyness took over. On the last day of school I told him, “You have one week; start studying.”
I was pleased to notice Stefan spending several hours a day in his room, coming down for study breaks every few hours, going out in the evening with his friends. “You studying?”
Friday night, Stef sat at the kitchen counter reading the Book of Mormon. He closed the final page, caught my eye and said, “Done studying.”
“That’s what you’ve been doing all week?” I asked. He nodded. And then I crossed my fingers and hoped it would work.
Now, this may sound simplistic; every kid who reads the Book of Mormon or the New Testament the week before the ACT isn’t going to receive a perfect score. But years of scripture study gave Stefan the discipline and steadiness of mind to excel. A few years ago I wrote about Stefan here, describing the sad, lonely fourteen year old without much direction. He could have gone either way, but he turned to God; reading scripture and refining his character and actions. He’d rather not tell you his exact regimen (just like he’ll never tell you how many pull-ups he does a night) but his efforts define every aspect of his life.
I believe anyone who spends time studying the teachings of Christ, reading the words of experienced leaders and delving into ancient texts will gain power in their life. A certain humility develops, when consistently seeking the word of God.
Ah, this is a weighty subject for a sunny spring day with children running through the kitchen. And I’m at the dangerous point in my writing where I could simply brag about my boy; but, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.”
Everyone asks me, “What’s Stefan’s secret?” It’s the oldest one in the book, from the oldest book in the world– turn to God; He will form you into your best self.