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Do Your Best in Schoolwork, Personal Lives

by Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr..

By Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr.
LDS Business College Devotional
January 28, 2014

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/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} Thank you for that beautiful music. And thank you President Richards for reading that introduction just as I wrote it. My dear young friends and colleagues, it’s a distinct pleasure and privilege to spend this devotional time with you this morning. I always enjoy being with you on your campus and particularly value my regular interactions and friendship with President Richards—he has mentioned some of them. He and your other leaders are doing a remarkable job here in not only managing but uplifting LDS Business College to new heights. I hope you appreciate the great privilege it is of yours to study and learn with them. President Richards is a particularly talented and effective leader. And he is also a great example. I commend him to you with great enthusiasm.

      As I have pondered and prayed about what I might say that would be of value and interest to you, the thought occurred to me that I might best frame my views about the importance of your education and this institution by sharing a very personal account from my own family. My father, for whom I was named, was an alumnus of LDS Business College. Let me tell you a little about his experience, both here and throughout his life that might give you more insight into why I think LDSBC is such an important part of the church educational system, and why I also believe that its unique role and institutional charge by the Board of Trustees—and you know who they are—are so vital and so necessary to be protected; but more about that later.

      My father was a 16-year-old high school graduate in the spring of 1929. At that time he had already had more education than either of his parents, and I think it was also true with respect to the rest of his family. He harbored some of the same ambitions for a happy and successful life that you have, but I’m sure that they were not particularly well-developed beyond that of most normal 16-year-olds. His family was not destitute but also was not wealthy by any means. My grandfather was employed as an engineer in a downtown Salt Lake City hotel—that meant he was a handyman, largely. And my grandmother cared for their family at home. Dad enrolled at LDSBC in the fall of 1929, just about the time of the famous stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. I honestly don’t know anything about his academic performance except that he did obtain a credential in one year that allowed him to become employed as a bookkeeper at the General Electric Company, during a time when the unemployment rate in our country was over 30 percent, or about five times what it is currently.

Needless to say, he thought his LDSBC certificate of completion or diploma or whatever it was really called, really meant something and he had a job to prove it. He was thrifty, as he had been taught to save money from his early youth by his parents, and so in about three or four more years, he was able to receive a mission call, when very few young men his age were privileged to serve because of the horrible economic situation of our country and of most families in the church and otherwise. I should add that my grandparents, through tremendous sacrifice and I think with some help from others, contributed to my father’s missionary support and that of his younger brother, who also served a mission when he reached the appropriate age.

      A few years after returning from his mission, my father changed careers, and never returned to bookkeeping or accounting as an occupation. However, he always valued the very practical education he’d received here. He was a man of many talents in my judgment, but one that I continue to admire very much was his personal organizational skills. He kept very detailed records and careful records. For example, every penny he received and how it was spent during his mission is recorded. I have those financial records and confess that I’ve never been able to match the orderliness and detail of his recordings and accounting in my own life. Happily, my wife has that same characteristic as my father with respect to money management. When I met her, she was my father’s part-time secretary, and he thought she was the best in everything she did. I admit that his views were very influential in developing my own about her.

      Now these solid organizational traits that my father had persisted throughout my dad’s life in virtually all he did. He passed away almost 25 years ago, and as his oldest son, I was able to go through some of his personal papers. On a sheet torn from a yellow legal pad on his desk my father explained, and this was the day that he passed away, that he had serviced and cleaned the filters on the furnace in his home. He also mentioned some other details about home maintenance and family business. When I read that, and since then, I’ve wondered if he had premonitions of the cardiac arrhythmia which would take his life later that evening. I suppose that we’ll maybe find out from Dad at some distant time. But whether or not this was the case, his careful recordkeeping was a lifelong characteristic, which had its roots in the very practical discipline he learned as a student at LDS Business College.

      As I said, my father valued what he learned here, and I admire not only what an LDSBC education meant to him but also what it can and should mean to those of you who have the opportunity to study here. It is my hope that you’ll always be alert, not only to the facts that you are learning, but also to the examples and patterns for successful living and working that are available to you here. One of the great strengths of this institution often lacking at others is its clear focus on education and training. These are not only practical in their own right but are also directed to assist you in becoming desirable employees in an increasingly competitive employment environment. Each of your circumstances is different, but every one is having the chance to gain skills and credentials that provide for you the means to achieving future success, security and happiness.

      As you all know, we live in a time when there is considerable debate and discussion about education. Various models of teaching, delivery, and evaluating academic programs have and are emerging. Some may be fads that will disappear from the landscape as quickly as they have emerged. Other refinements on time-tested approaches will continue, but there are some things that do not and cannot change because they are very fundamental to the basic purposes of life and education itself. Because you’re privileged to be here and have gospel instruction at the Institute of Religion as well as spiritual insights, integrated into the entire curriculum, you have an understanding of the role of education in the plan of salvation. 

      This has been true from the very beginning. Like BYU, where I currently serve, Karl G. Maeser was instrumental in establishing LDS Business College. After spending about 10 years in Provo, where he’d been sent by Brigham Young, helping to establish the Brigham Young Academy, he was asked by the Brethren to expand his efforts and became the president here also in 1886. What I find to be very interesting in our history and your history is that as far as I can tell, there was never any intention that LDSBC be a branch of BYU or any other institution. That is because the Church Educational System has multiple schools, with each school having a distinct and different mission. Yes, we all strive for academic excellence in a spiritually strengthening environment, but unlike other institutions, LDSBC has the specific assignment to focus primarily on career preparation. Your curriculum and offerings are framed by this objective and frankly, are better done here than at most colleges and universities that have other goals and priorities.

      Some have wondered what approach is better. The answer is that one emphasis may be different from another, but are all equal in value and importance in the kingdom. I don’t know that it is particularly important to our loving Heavenly Father what career or occupation each of us chooses. I do know that it is vital we prepare ourselves in such a way that we can fulfill the potential we each have to live, serve, and return with honor to our Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ when our mortal missions are completed.

      One of the remarkable things about the plan of salvation is even though it charts a very clear course for our lives to follow, in terms of our discipleship and need to endure to the end, the gift of agency means that we have almost unlimited choices in how we meet the goals and objectives of righteous living. Among the many things I admire about LDSBC is that it clearly helps every student focus on how to prepare not only socially and spiritually, which it does very well, but also how to gain the experience, skills, and credentials to be successful in the world of work. To be unemployed may not be a sin or a stigma when one has done all she or he can to prepare for and properly seek meaningful employment, but like the case with my father, a good, reliable, respected job opens the doors to achieving all of the other worthy goals that a faithful young Latter-day Saint should have.

      Our scriptures are replete with the counsel and charge to study and work. You know them, and I hope you study them and apply them in your lives. One of the great sections of the Doctrine and Covenants is significant in applicability to you in your student years, and will never lose its relevance throughout your lives. I speak of section 88. This revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph, in Kirtland, Ohio, almost three years after the church was organized. It is one of the longer sections, but I commend the reading and careful study of all 141 verses. Let me touch on a few and make some comments that might be helpful in your own considerations. Think of the Lord speaking directly to you, your classmates and teachers.

      “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.

      “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

      “Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms” (D&C 88:77-79).

      This is a very broad instruction, but does it tell you specifically what discipline or career or occupation you should choose? I don’t think so. What it tells me is that I’d better learn all I can about many things but also be wise enough to be sure to learn as much about one thing or competency as I can to be not only useful in the world but employable in honorable work. This is right down the alley of LDSBC.

      Now back to section 88: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

      “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:118-119).

      Again, rather broad counsel. You might be tempted to clarify for me that it is very unlikely for someone to come to LDSBC without faith. While a point well taken, I would submit that none of us have our faith yet fully developed and that further, in the midst of the vicissitudes of life we all encounter, our faith can be challenged or even shaken if we are not careful. That is why our Board of Trustees, President Richards and all of your faculty and staff constantly emphasize the importance of strengthening each others’ faith and faithfulness.

      Many years ago I had priesthood responsibility for a young man who had so much faith he thought he didn’t seriously need to study for his college exams. He wondered why the Lord would let him fail his classes when he was a 100 percent home teacher. He didn’t understand that study and faith are closely linked companions. Study and faith are not opposites – both are necessary. Even our general authority leaders, the apostles and prophets, have tremendous faith but also carefully and diligently study out every matter that comes before them prior to making a decision. They help each other with both their study and their faith, and they set a tremendous example for all of us. We should do the same with our classmates and other associates involved in this great educational process.

      Whenever I read those first two words of verse 119, “Organize yourselves” (D&C 88:119), I think of my father whose organizational skills and habits I’ve already spoken of today. If he didn’t learn these approaches at LDSBC, I’m confident that at least his abilities were enhanced and sharpened here. I’m also comfortable in suggesting that if you do your very best in your studies, incorporating your consistent efforts in growing faith, you’ll accomplish the purposes you and the Lord have in mind for you attending this important house of learning, house of order, and house of God. I believe this verse applies certainly to our temples, chapels, homes, and to LDS Business College.

      Now I might very well have concluded with that thought and probably some of you are wishing that I had. But there is one other matter that I believe deserves your careful and prayerful consideration as you study and learn here at LDS Business College. For most of you, you’ve never before, and likely will never again, be in such an environment as you are now. I understand that a few of you might be lucky enough to teach here in some distant future, or be involved in the Church Educational System in some other way. If you are, you will be fortunate. But your personal circumstances will likely be very different than they are currently. The students at BYU know that I am not shy about emphasizing the importance of finding and choosing an eternal companion in the right way, and in the right place, at the right time. Without apology, President Richards and his leadership team determine with exactness and specificity the curriculum you will study once you’ve chosen a program or emphasis. They will not do the same, I don’t think, with respect to getting you matched up romantically. Understand, they are not opposed to wonderful young women meeting, dating, or falling in love and marrying a fine young man. But because of agency and propriety, you will need to do the work related to that process yourselves.

      Not everyone will find a companion here, nor should they. Some of you are yet to fill missions, or have other matters to deal with prior to entering a temple marriage. Some of you have already found a companion and some of you have suffered mightily that a hoped-for relationship didn’t develop or occur. Each of your situations is unique. My only point in this regard is that one of the reasons heaven likely led you to LDSBC is to have the very best possible opportunity to meet someone of similar values and interests that could cause you to enjoy eternity together. If it doesn’t happen while you are here, all is certainly not lost. But, if you haven’t done the best you can to make yourselves available to meet and get to know possible mates, I can predict it will be much harder wherever you go after you leave your CES student experience.

      Now having stepped into this rather dangerous territory, let me offer just a little more advice to you if you actually agree with the counsel I have just given you about thinking of temple marriage and a family. Occasionally in this process a challenge occurs when the young man and young woman don’t see things in exactly the same way. I’m not talking about a first date that quickly both decide was a “once in a lifetime experience”—meaning there would never be a second date. I’m talking about a relationship where you have enjoyed each others’ company and have started to get to know each other reasonably well. At that point it is quite natural to begin to wonder whether or not this friendship is developing into something that could be far more important. This is the time to find out all you can about each other in terms of likes, dislikes, problems, priorities, plans, family values and perhaps even politics. There will come a day, ideally for both at the same time, when a tentative decision to proceed further is made and the time to seek confirmation or otherwise through prayer and perhaps fasting has arrived. When both the young woman and the young man go through the process together at the same time, and each reaches the same conclusion at the same time then the result is delightful, and the prospects for a bright future together are very good.

      More often than not, however, the process may not work out quite that smoothly. On occasion one of the potential partners may reach a confirming conclusion before the other. This may not be serious and may just require a little more time, a little more learning about each other, perhaps reaching comfort with each others’ family, and the like. If so, don’t be too impatient, because the correct answer will come if it’s approached properly. What is the proper approach at this point? In my view, the fundamental answer and process is found in the scriptures. Let me share some verses given to the prophet Joseph Smith for Oliver Cowdery in another context that you’d be familiar with but is the safe and reliable way to make any significant decision.

      You recall that Oliver was happy to be the scribe for Joseph as he translated the Book of Mormon but also wanted the privilege to translate himself. The Lord gave Oliver permission, but Oliver did not immediately follow up on his instructions. That’s an important lesson for other time. And the privilege to translate was later withdrawn. Understandably, Oliver Cowdery was disappointed and probably confused. Listen to what the Lord said to him: “Behold, you have not understood; you had supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

      “But, behold, I say unto you that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

      “But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong” (D&C 9:7-9).

      A key point that I would like to make is that when a decision involves two people such as deciding on an engagement or marriage, then both parties are not only entitled but must each receive the appropriate confirmation. You can certainly know yourself if the Lord approves of a decision you have made about an appropriate companion for marriage, but no one is authorized to receive that direction for another. You must both feel strongly that your decision is right and approved of heaven for it actually to be right. Agency is not only one of God’s greatest gifts but is also a tremendous personal responsibility.

      Now don’t be confused because the potential man or woman of your dreams isn’t perfect. None of us is. But you must be satisfied that the fundamentals are in order. Those of us who have been around for a long time recognize the hope of reforming a potential marriage partner after marriage almost never works. If he won’t keep his covenants when he is courting you he likely won’t later, either.

      By now some of you may be silently asking yourselves, “But what if I never meet him or her?” My response is do your best, keep your faith, and don’t let discouragement cause you to lower your standards. Don’t be afraid to ask trusted friends and particularly your priesthood leaders what you might be able to do better, or change in your life and approach to increase your prospects of finding a companion. And, please don’t be offended if rather direct suggestions are forthcoming. Most of us don’t see some of the characteristics we have that might be either offensive or distracting to others. All of us have areas where we can improve, and my wife, Sharon, has not yet given up on me after nearly 50 years.

For a number of years I worked in a building very close to where we are today and found there in the large group of employees a number of single sisters who were older than most of you and some were a lot older, meaning almost as old as I am. As a group these were bright, pleasant, faithful sisters who had contributed much, had much to offer, yet in spite of most of them desiring a husband and family, it had not occurred for them. Some will resolve that it would not happen for them in this life. But occasionally I would visit with one or two who were considering giving up and thinking about marrying someone who would not be worthy to go to the temple with them. I never personally encouraged direct discussions about these personal matters with these good sisters, but occasionally I was asked for counsel.

When this occurred I would often ask them to consider such a decision in light of what they knew about the plan of salvation. When I was met with a blank stare or received an answer to my question in the form of one of their own, I would say something like this: What happens to children who die before the age of eight? We are assured they go to the celestial kingdom and will have opportunities to receive every blessing, including a companion and a family that God has promised any of his children. Perhaps because of my medical background, I know some facts that might not be generally known but have been replicated by scientific inquiry many times. Particularly in the developing world, infant mortality—meaning the death of babies in the first year of life—is slightly but definitely greater for boys than for girls. I won’t go into the causes, theories and so forth, but you can find them quite easily if you decide to study the issue. The key point is that since these young males are promised the celestial kingdom, it will be a buyer’s market for worthy, available sisters in the eternities.

Now sisters, I’m not suggesting that you wait or delay, but I am recommending that you do not settle for a scrub or for a man not up to your reasonable standards. For you young men, I cannot make such a promise. The statistics are turning not in your favor, if you don’t take advantage of your current situation when you can identify, seek out, and ask on proper dates worthy young women, and then finally make the appropriate commitments to the special one that leads to a happy temple marriage and family in a timely way.

      As we read in the book of Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). This is the time and the season to make sure you are doing all you can to fulfill every purpose heaven has for you while at LDS Business College. You are bright, able, and becoming wiser. It is my conviction that you will be able to achieve all that you must in preparing for the rest of your lives and every aspect if you study and pray hard, keep your covenants, and make sure you take advantage of the tremendous opportunities, both educational and professional, available here at LDS Business College.

      I have a testimony, my young brothers and sisters, that God does live and that Jesus is the Christ, that the plan of salvation is true and that education is a key and vital part of that plan that our Heavenly Father has for each of us. I congratulate you for being here, for taking advantage of this opportunity and encourage you to continue to do your best in all of the dimensions of both your schoolwork and your personal lives, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

    Cecil Samuelson Jr. has been president of Brigham Young University for nearly 11 years. At the time of his assignment to BYU in 2003, he was a member of the presidency of the Seventy, and had served as a general authority since 1994. In 2011 he was granted emeritus general authority status.

     President Samuelson is a native of Salt Lake, and served a full-time mission to Scotland. At the University of Utah he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in educational psychology, and a medical degree, after which he completed his internship and residency at Duke University. President Samuelson has served at the University of Utah as a professor of medicine, the dean of the School of Medicine, vice president of Health Services. Prior to his call as a full-time general authority, he was the senior vice president of Intermountain Health Care. He has received numerous scholastic honors, and is the author or co-author of 48 original publications, eight books or chapters of books, and 13 abstracts. He also has served as the director, officer, or member of several national medical and hospital organizations.

Some of his other callings in the church include regional representative, stake president, high councilor, branch president, area president in the Utah North area, and the Europe North area. President Samuelson calls his wife Sharon “my best, most honest critic.” And November 25th of this year will mark their 50th year since they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of five children, and as of this printing, 14 grandchildren.

 I have the honor and privilege of sitting with President Samuelson twice a month. This is a man whose experience in the Church and in the world never leaves him without a story. Most of them are clever. They all have wonderful application to life. He has been—and he doesn’t know it—a mentor to me. I sit across the table from him, and I listen carefully about his perspective. I have learned from his wisdom, and I promise you that you will do the same today.

      After the closing prayer we would ask you to be seated because President Samuelson has graciously volunteered for a few moments; we’ll walk him up to the foyer where as you exit he’ll have a chance to greet some of you. Now let me give you a little counsel about that: I wouldn’t try to make your best pitch as to why you should be at BYU. Because although he will listen graciously, he knows better than to respond with, “You’re welcome to apply.” So be cautious and careful with his time. So we’re so grateful to have him here today.


LDS Business College (LDSBC) is located in downtown Salt Lake City, three blocks west of Temple Square.

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LDS Business College
95 North 300 West
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