LDS Business College Devotional Address
June 15, 2010
As I was driving here today I passed several golf courses. I really enjoy golf, although I’m not as good at it in real life as I am in my dreams. It is in incredible day outside, and with those golf courses in mind as I walked into the building I asked myself “what are we doing here today?” Last week President Richards challenged us to ask “Why does your Heavenly Father want you here?” I would like to explore that this morning.
So, why are we here? Most of you will recognize that question from Primary. It is the middle of 3 questions that are the basis for the Plan of Salvation. Where did we come from?, Why are we here?, and Where are we going after this life?
Why is a word we learn very early in life. We seem to have a built in desire to understand how things work and why the rules exist. Dale Carnegie made the statement that “The deepest drive inside all people is the desire to succeed, to be great, and to excel.” I believe that drive comes from an inborn knowledge of our agreement in the pre-existence and our commitment to a personal plan of salvation. The veil might be drawn over our eyes, but our conscience knows what we agreed to do. It propels us forward knowing that eternity and eternal rewards are waiting.
As we grow into our teens, “why” seems to be a constant question for us. The answers that we receive or develop to the “why” questions usually determine our behavior and our outcome in any situation. I believe that is why the prophets have always taught that “were there is no vision, the people perish”. Without this vision of why we are doing something, the task usually becomes meaningless and has no direction, so any outcome will suffice.
An excellent example of how our vision affects our actions is found in Section 51. The June Ensign does a great job of expanding on these principles. Let me share a little of Section 51 and then the quote from the Ensign.
“And I consecrate unto them this land for a little season, until I, the Lord, shall provide for them otherwise, and command them to go hence; And the hour and the day is not given unto them, wherefore let them act upon this land as for years, and this shall turn unto them for their good” (D&C 51:16-17)
“I like to picture those early Saints hearing the Lord’s instructions and getting right to work. They plowed fields they didn’t know they would harvest, planted trees whose fruit they might never eat, and built a beautiful temple they would ultimately have to leave. I picture them living busy, productive lives, not peering endlessly into the unknown, wondering where they would go next and when. They acted “as for years”, trusting that their work would not be in vain.”
Our vision determines our actions!
Another example will reinforce this principle. To the question “Why are we here on this earth” you would be able to give some of the answers we learned in Primary. Certainly we gain a body, learn from our experience, and we have to walk by faith. In this month’s Ensign Elder Bednar has a great article about the critical important of gaining a body. Clearly, those are all true answers, but if I stop at that, my behavior might be quite a bit different than if I have the vision given by the Lord Himself. When He was teaching Abraham, He shared with Abraham a vision of why we are here.
22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
My answer to the question “Why am I here” is to be obedient. I want to show the Lord that I WILL “do all things whatsoever” He commands me to do. Can you see how that might change my behavior and shape the course of my life? Now, as you can imagine, I haven’t always been obedient. I would like to think that I am still alive because the Lord is giving me another chance.
Having a “vision” is also so very important to answer why we are here at LDS Business College. I have learned that I really don’t need to ask “why did you come here?” Let me give you an example from the mission field. As a Stake President it was very important for me to ask a prospective missionary why he or she was going to serve a mission. I really wanted to know and to work on the reason for going and help the best I could with the spiritual preparation, and to see that they were going for the proper reasons. If not, we worked on that together until they were ready.
As you know, there were a variety of reasons. “It’s what we are supposed to do, my parents expect it, all of my siblings have served, my girlfriend wants it, things are awful at home, I want to get away from my boyfriend, etc.”
And yes, many, if not most were going for the right reasons.
As a new Mission President I would ask a missionary “tell me why you came on a mission”. However, I quickly stopped asking that question as I realized it really didn’t matter any longer. What I saw happen in those two years of a missionary’s life deeply influenced me. I know that those of you that have served a mission know and feel what I am talking about.
Just like the miracle of a mission, now that you are here at LDS Business College, it no longer matters why you came here. What really matters (and the real miracle) is how you are, and who you are, when you leave.
President Packer reminded us of this at the dedication of the Conference Center in 2000. He quoted this poem to reinforce his remarks which I slightly modified for our particular benefit:
We are all blind, until we see
That in the universal plan
Nothing is worth the making if
It does not make the [student].
Why build these buildings glorious,
If [students] unbuilded go?
In vain we build the world, unless
The [student] also grows.
Now that you are here at this wonderful College, it no longer matters why you came here. It’s OK that your parents wanted you here, or that you wanted to get away from home without paying out-of-state tuition, or that your sweetheart wanted you here, or you came to find your sweetheart, OR even that you have always wanted to come here because of the unique educational experience. What I would like to challenge you on at this time is your vision of how you will leave these sacred halls.
Who you are when you leave here will be determined by your vision of what you are doing here.
In a video produced by the College, Elder Nelson made these closing comments:
“The ultimate aim of true education is the building of character. Character becomes the substance of one’s eternal identity.”
Because this College is unique, we want you to go away with some very practical, daily skills that will make a difference in your character. There are so many things you can learn here that will make a significant difference in your life. They vary from the very large to the seemingly insignificant.
There are a few practical daily things that you can do that will help you to organize yourself and to build and strengthen your character. Let me give you a few examples of a few seeming small, yet powerful daily actions that will make a difference.
#1 – Set a goal. Set a goal for each class AND for your time here at the College. You will find that this goal of a grade point average, something you want to take from the class, a concept you want to master, etc. will guide and direction your efforts.
Recently I was asked to teach employees of a major corporation some principles of “Time Management”. In preparation for this presentation I did a search of the Internet to find a quote, and my search returned over 1 Billion pages on this topic. I decided to see if Time Management was more popular than diets. Diets only showed up with about 27 Million hits. I thought everyone in the world was looking for a diet, but Time Management is 37 times more popular!
It is not an accident that in Chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, when the prophets are teaching us how to organize ourselves they use the wording “Set goals and make plans”. They put those words in that order for a very prophetic reason. Elder Ballard said:
“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.”
– ELDER M. RUSSELL BALLARD
TALK GIVEN TO SALT LAKE AREA YOUNG ADULTS,
OCT. 18, 1981
Your faith is strengthened as you set goals and make plans. You cause good things to happen. You literally cause miracles to happen because you take small steps that set in motion eternal principles. How is it that I can say that you can CAUSE miracles to happen?
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. D&C 130:20-21
If a vision isn’t clear right now, or if you want help to “master the techniques of living to reach your goals” or “master the principles of setting a goal”, sit down with an advisor or faculty member and talk about what you would like to accomplish. Let us help you develop a roadmap to your personal success.
#2 – Diligently attend your classes. I was told that an internet search of the phrase “just showing up” returns over 240,000 quotes. Most of them are of the theme that “half of life is just showing up”. Just like Sunday School, Family Home Evening, Seminary, Institute and other events in your life (like in your employment), there is a statistical difference in those who diligently show up. Street contacting, door knocking and other types of tracting on a mission required some skill, but most of the success just came from being there and doing it.
Most of you have been baptized and confirmed. Many of you have received your endowment in the Temple. Some of you have even received the crowning ordinance of this life, which is to be sealed for time and all eternity. What else is left? Among other places, 2 Ne 31 teaches us that the last requirement in the Doctrine of Christ is to “endure to the end”.
As a young teenager, I was pretty sure that I understand what enduring church meetings was all about. However, while there are many definitions of “enduring”, the one that is now the most clear to me is found in Chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel.
Faith in Christ; repentance; making, renewing, and keeping covenants; and being cleansed by the Spirit become a pattern of living. Our actions in daily life are shaped and governed by these principles. (p.66)
Enduring to the end is really about developing patterns of righteous living. It is forming the habits that become our eternal character. Our final judgment isn’t an accounting of good and bad and balancing the ledgers. It’s all about who we have become because of our pattern of living.
President Richards said this a different way last week when he quoted the following:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, it is a habit.”
We can only develop a “pattern of righteous living” through the daily habits of what we do. Why we do them is part of the development of the condition of our hearts. Showing up and being where we are supposed to be is part of who we become.
As a young man, when my mother would ask me to do something, I remember having several responses, among which were a tendency to debate the relevancy of the task, passive disobedience, and even outright rebellion (which, by the way, I have witnessed all of these here when it comes to assignments and homework). She passed away a short while after I graduated High School, but since I was a late bloomer, she passed away long before the “common sense” part of my brain started to develop.
Oh, how I wish I could go back and change so many things. One of them would be that I would try to get accepted into the 2,000 stripling warrior club. I would like to be able to say to my mother,
“Yea, and I did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness;”
It would be a way that I could show my mother how much I love her. I learned that from the Savior, when he said:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
I have also since learned a little about the other side of this diligence to be obedient equation. One Chapter later in John, we are shown the other side when he taught:
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love;” John 15:10
Diligently attending your classes is just one way you can practice the habits that develop patterns of righteous living.
#3 – Turn you assignments in on time. This seems so simple, but so important. With the exception of the first week of class, you know weeks in advance when an assignment is due. Part of the Learning Model found in the 88th Section is to “Organize yourselves and prepare every needful thing.” Chaos is, by scientific definition, the opposite of harmony. When you are in chaos, you can’t do your best and your certainly aren’t prepared to be taught by the Spirit. By organizing ourselves to turn in our assignments on time, it contributes to the miracle that somehow we develop the tendency to be organized in every other aspect of our lives.
This is an example of how you cause success in your life through your pattern of living. When you are well organized, you have a tendency to meet your commitments, and they are always much better than when they are thrown together at the last moment. In fact, the Lord has given us counsel that is hidden from our youth. There is a scripture that is hidden from the youth of our Church. Asking forgiveness of President Richards, I will share a scripture that is only understood by High Priests in the church.
retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. D&C 88:124
When I was young, it seemed like when I asked why I was having a hard time, the answer from my mother was always “clean your room”. It took me years to clearly understand how much better everything seemed to be in my life when “figuratively” my room was clean and my life was organized.
seek learning, even by study and also by faith. D&C 88:118
This scripture to learn by actual studying and by faith is followed by the scripture that talks about putting our house in order. Not a coincidence!
As part of attending class and turning in your assignments on time, you prepare in advance for your classes. Learning in a classroom isn’t nearly as effective as getting a clarification or even a verification of things you have already learned through your own efforts. Read the material in advance of the class. You will be amazed at how this simple change in schedule will allow you to process material learned in the class and how it will help your retention.
You might argue that it takes the same amount of time and effort if you don’t prepare in advance. That is not true. Even more importantly however, as we were counseled last week, this is part of casting your nets on the other side of the boat. It really makes a difference!
#4 – Have faith. You are a son or daughter of Heavenly Father. He loves you. The only begotten Son of God Himself came to this earth and sacrificed Himself just for you. You are important! Quoting President Monson, “Your future is as bright as your faith”.
Sister Virginia Pearce (who is President Hinckley’s daughter) made the comment that with very few exceptions, most of the pioneers made it to the Salt Lake Valley simply by making the effort to put one foot in front of the other day after day.
The textbook we use in the Sales class states it this way:
“The successful people of the world seem to gain the habit of doing those things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do”.
What a powerful statement about “enduring to the end”. We develop a habit of righteous living. We develop a habit of successful living. We develop a habit of successful learning.
These simple steps, maybe even arguably insignificant in and of themselves, when added together form a powerful pattern and therefore, a powerful character.