LDS Business College Devotional
January 8, 2013
You just have no idea how good you are, nor do you know how much the Lord loves you. Nor do you know the depth of the meaning of that hymn. It’s one that can be plumbed deeply and mined deeply, and in a little bit, you’ll know why we sang that today, and why I wanted that hymn sung today.
Brother Nelson likes to set very high standards, and so he said you look good, but we’ll work on great. I think you look great, but don’t inhale. Tuesday is a great day to look your best for those who come and speak. And it’s a day to look your best because it’s a day to show your Father in Heaven that you appreciate the blessings that He has given you to be here. That’s why I dress up for Him every day, and for you.
Okay, I’ll try and get through this, but you guys make me weep. I’m just a big baby. And somebody says, “If you’re an ex-banker, how could you possibly be a big baby?” I have a heart, honest. I do have cold hands, but I do have a heart.
For the next thirty minutes, will you forget that I am the College president? I want to talk to you in a different way. I don’t want to talk to you like a bishop, and I don’t want to talk to you like your dad. I don’t even want to talk to you like I’m your friend, though I am. I want to talk to you today like your big brother, part of your family, but maybe one who has had just a little more experience than you’ve had. And because I want to be your big brother today, will you allow me to look backwards in my life and share with you some things that I’ve learned that I think would be helpful to you? And the only reason I want to talk to you as your big brother is because of my love for you, for what you stand for, and for who you are, not what you do.
And I want to talk to you this way because I see some wonderful, great potential in you, and I see in the world in front of you just these wonderful opportunities that are yours, and oh, I wish in some ways I could do it again, trade places with you. I’d do it a little differently.
I also see great snares that are in the roadway to block your progression. And so, though you think you are really quite wise, in some ways you are really still very naïve. And life is going to teach you some lessons. And it’s going to do it one of two ways—you can either learn those lessons by heeding what some of us who are just a little bit farther down the path have learned; or you can learn it by the things that you suffer. And it’s really your choice. And I pray with all my heart that the Lord will not have you suffer beyond that which is necessary for you to be purified, and that you will heed the counsel given by others—in scriptures, in prophetic statements from the prophets, Church manuals and magazines, and what the Spirit says to you every week in weekly devotionals.
And because I want to talk to you as a family member, you will forgive me if I don’t carefully pick my words or soft-pedal what I have to say. And you will forgive me for it because, as family members, we trust each other, and you know that I would never say a thing that would hurt you or mislead you. And you know that as the Scriptures say, that my love for you and my “faithfulness [to you] is stronger than the cords of death,” (D&C 121:44) and that as the Scriptures say, every day that I walk through this door, I receive you in a covenant that is “fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and [your] brother.” (D&C 88:133)
Now as a little preface before we get to what I want to talk about, we lost a family member. Those of you who don’t know, Tatsu Ito passed away on Friday. He was one of us. He taught us much in the relatively short time that he was here at the College. His presence here, with his brother Dan, brings out the best in us. Tatsu increased our gratitude and decreased the severity of the minor complaints that we have when we think about the hand we were dealt to play. He taught us about trying and achieving and how to face every day successfully. He created for some of us the opportunity to lift in charitable service to him, and for those of you who did so on a consistent basis, bless you. And greater blessings await you, including the day when you and Tatsu will embrace and you will walk together. And you who have helped and continue to help his brother Dan, know, as President Adam Fisher said not too long ago, “I thought they needed my help; I never knew how much I needed them.”
A few of the students were with Tatsu on Friday up at the hospital before he passed away. They sang to him his favorite hymn, “The Spirit of God.” And they said their goodbyes. And so we shed a few tears today over the temporary loss of a family member, that we take what Tatsu helped us learn and we move forward, with faith and effort, better people because of having known him and having been blessed to see his example of faithfulness and courage.
But be assured of this: Tatsu lives as much today as he did Friday morning. The difference is that he has laid down a body temporarily which he will take up again. And he will do it in the morning of the First Resurrection, and it will be perfected. And so today, Tatsu’s spirit is free. He speaks clearly, he walks, he has leapt for joy at the assurance of things that he only once hoped for but now has become the evidence of the things he had not seen before. (See Hebrews 11:1)
There is no bodily discomfort, there is no pain. Tatsu has now felt the loving embrace of other family members who preceded him through the veil. And surely of all people, Tatsu has been embraced by another Brother, who paid the price that Tatsu might live again and be reunited with his body, perfected, and achieve with his family glories that are celestial.
So there will be a funeral service for Tatsu on Saturday at the Salt Lake Stake Center. It’s the white one that’s right behind, just north of the Conference Center. It will be at 12:00 o’clock. There will be a viewing preceding, at 11:00 on Saturday. On Friday night at Larkin Mortuary, which is on South Temple, 260 South Temple, just up the street, there will be a viewing on Friday from 6:00-8:00 p.m., to which you are invited. And so, Brother and Sister Ito, we extend our love. We extend our appreciation for having known Tatsu, and our continuing appreciation to know Dan. They bless us. So thank you.
And Dan, we honor you. We honor you, Dan, for your courage and your faith and for your example, and you just make us feel doggone happy every time we’re around you. So I thank you for blessing my life as well. Okay, now we can all pull out a Kleenex and we’ll be done here, okay? And we’ll move on, off this subject.
Now, as your brother, I want to share five strategies for you that I think will make for a great year. Now, some of these strategies I’ve learned from my own experience, and some of these strategies I’ve learned by watching other students who come through the College and have been very successful. Some of the strategies are the result of watching other students come through the College, and they graduated but they never really “got” us. You know what I mean? They never really got us. And then some of these strategies I’ve learned because of some students that we had to send home before they completed their education, because they really didn’t get us at all.
So I want to share them with you. So here is strategy #1: Just for today, quit thinking, and acting, and looking like something you are not and embrace who you really are. Now, that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Pretty simple. Just for today, quit thinking, and acting, and looking like what you are not, and embrace what you think you really are. Now, I’m going to show you a little video about fleas, and I’ll let you draw the principle associated with this little video on fleas. In case you don’t get it, I’ll help you.
[Video:] “This requires a glass jar with a lid. The fleas are placed inside the jar, and the lid is then sealed. Now they are undisturbed for three days. When the jar is opened, the fleas will not jump out. In fact, the fleas will never jump higher than the level set by the lid. Their behavior is now set for the rest of their lives, and when these fleas reproduce, their offspring will automatically follow their example.”
Do you get it? Okay. If that was a little hard for you, we’ll do another one. Do you know how they get really large elephants not to move? When they’re very young, they tie a very large rope around their leg, and they put a stake in the ground. The elephant tries to move it a few times, but he can’t. And so, when the elephant gets older, they don’t have to put a large rope around its leg; they put a little tiny one. But that elephant believes, because of some life experience, that they can’t, and so they don’t try.
So here is my point. We have self-limiting behavior that teaches us that we are less than what we are and blocks us from moving forward. And it comes out this way: “Oh, that’s just the way I am.” Or it comes out this way: “Well, I can’t. I’ve never been able to.” Or this one: “I’m just not very good at prayer, or at speaking, or having charity.” Brothers and sisters, stop acting like something you’re not. Whatever your past experiences have been or your limitations or what you think you are not capable of, you are capable far greater than you think you are. And then you couple that with the Spirit in your life and oh, my goodness, get out of your way. Because you will accomplish great things.
So whatever junk has happened, whatever lid was on your jar, it’s gone. Whatever you think has tethered you mightily as a baby elephant, you have the strength to overcome it. But let’s not kid ourselves—how do we overcome those things? It will not be by simply praying to Father in Heaven, saying, “Will you please relieve me of the burden?” When Nephi prayed to have his bonds loosened, read carefully how he prayed it. He prayed for the strength to do it. I don’t think the bonds fell off his arm. I’m sure he got a rash. Okay? I’m sure he got a rash. So I encourage you to quit thinking and acting and looking like something that you’re not, and embracing who you are. And you know it. You’ve sung it ad nauseum in Primary. I pray the day will come when you actually believe it, that you are a child of God and therefore endowed with all the capabilities of Godhood, yes, even in this life.
So what’s the second application of this strategy? You can misinterpret some of life’s tough experiences, the tailored tutorials that Heaven gives you. You can misinterpret them by letting them define you or become you or overpower your confidence. Let it go. Let it go, whether it’s shyness, whether it’s an experience that happened to you in the mission field. Let it go.
And finally, under this strategy, this is the place to discover what your gifts and talents are. It really is. And then if you couple that with skills, on top of those gifts and those talents, and then you learn how to tell your story to other people and prospective employers, then you are armed. You are ready to go. I’ll give you an example about that.
We had a student here in accounting. I forgot her name—she was from off the farm in Idaho. Do you remember her name, Craig? An accounting student—we put her in a video, and she talks in this video—what is her name? Katie Keach. She’s Brother Finlinson’s niece. [A voice from someone seated on the podium: “She didn’t let that define her.”] No, she didn’t, did she. She’s a poster child for two issues here.
She looked in the newspaper. She’s a two-year student in accounting, with one year’s worth of experience. She sees in the newspaper an ad for an accountant, a four-year degree required and two years’ experience. She has a two-year degree and one year experience, so she applies for the job. Right? And she gets it. And she’s done a marvelous job and exceeded well and helped that company. If she had believed in her little head that she wasn’t capable of stretching and doing, going after that job, she wouldn’t have had it. So please do not misinterpret life’s experiences. Relish the fact that this is a place to discover your skills and your talents, then learn how to tell your story. And we can help you learn how to do all of that.
Now the last piece under this particular principle, this strategy. And that is, this is a place to learn to look the part. I’ll tell you a little story. Back in the day when I was in the mission field, the Church was still very young. Okay? It was a long time ago. You weren’t born yet. You weren’t even around. You weren’t even a twinkle in your parents’ eye yet. And on one preparation day, then called “diversion day”—which, in itself, should tell you something. That’s what they were called. As a district, we were in a little Toyota, and we were driving to go play basketball. So we were in Levis and T-shirts and our sneakers, in western Australia. And the car had a little problem. The steering wheel was tight—it was hard to turn. So my companion, Elder Rowley, said, “Let’s pull off the side of the road and say a prayer, because I’m concerned about the car.” We were going down the road at a fairly good clip.
So we stopped and we prayed, and as the driver, Elder Ferrington, went to turn the car back onto the road, the steering wheel snapped. I mean, you could just spin it, like this, see. So we called the mission president, because we were in trouble. And the mission president calls a tow company, and the tow truck shows up, and the mission president about the same time. So the mission president says, “Yes, these young men here, they are missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have a wonderful message they’d like to share with you.”
He looks at us and he turns around to the mission president and says, “No, they’re not. I’ve seen Mormon missionaries. They don’t look like Mormon missionaries.”
Brothers and sisters, you go to LDS Business College. Many of you are returned missionaries. I invite you to continue to look the part. You can walk the halls and see ancient pictures of old people in funny dresses at this college. They came here with character; they built what we stand upon. We have no right to diminish it. We have no right to look like what we don’t believe.
George McDonald: “We are bound to say all that we [believe], but we are not bound to even look [like] what we don’t [believe].” I got that quote from Elder Holland. [From Elder Holland’s talk of Sept. 7, 1982, while serving as president of Brigham Young University. President Holland cited p. 142 of Creation in Christ, by Harold Shaw, 1976, as his source.]
The Apostle Paul: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) Brethren, man up. If you need a shaver, I have one. The ninth floor has one. Don’t make me ask you, as your older brother, to honor the commitment that you have already made to a priesthood holder, okay? And sisters, it’s cold, so I’m not worried about you. But when it gets warm, I don’t want to see too much. As we used to say to some of the young ladies in the Parley’s First Ward when I was a bishop, with the young Laurels who would come, and I know it’s hard to find dresses that are appropriate and the right length, and the right length both ends. Do you know what I mean? I would just tell them, “Don’t embarrass the deacons who are passing the sacrament to you.” Okay, enough said.
Now look, I don’t want you to walk around this place in sackcloth and ashes. This is a fun place. I want you to have fun. This is a great time in your life. You only do it once. Just do it right. Embrace who you are.
Here’s strategy #2: Just for today, qualify to go forth in the strength of the Lord. If there is something in your life that stands in the way of going forth in the strength of the Lord, I invite you to just…will you stop it? And if you can’t help it, get help. When we continue to do something that you know is not right or good for you, but you continue to do it anyway—brothers and sisters, I will tell you that is a clinical definition of addiction. Do you hear me clearly? When you continue to do something that you know you shouldn’t do, but you do it anyway, it is a clinical definition of an addiction. So if you’ve got it, get rid of it! But you can couple the strength of who you are and your talents and your gifts and the skills that you are going to learn here, and go forth in the strength of the Lord. Then, look out! You can meet the challenges that life is going to present to you. You really can. It will be wonderful for you. Life will be good. And will you get some junk that comes your way? Yes, because that’s what you signed up for. So just deal with it. But you’ll be empowered to deal with it.
So here’s another piece with that strategy. Do not take counsel with your fears. Every fear you have hides an important vision of an opportunity that is there for you. Whether it’s freedom for the elephant, or getting out of the jar if you are the fleas, it doesn’t matter. Every fear hides a vision of an important opportunity for you. Someone said once, “Fear stands for this: False Evidence Appearing Real.” Fear—False Evidence Appearing Real.
You cannot have faith and fear in your mind at the same time. Do you know that? And if you are here to learn by study and by faith, what does that say about fear? Drop it! If there was ever an opportunity in your life to take a risk in a classroom—inside the kingdom of God, inside a building that’s been dedicated, in a classroom that opens and ends with prayer, where we call each other brothers and sisters—if there was ever a time to take a risk with a thought or an idea, explore something, and fail, this is it! Because we’ll grab you, we’ll dust you off, we’ll pat you on the behind, and we’ll send you on your way, and say, “Try it again, until you get it.” And that’s what we’ll do, because we love you and we want you to succeed and we want you to master what Heaven has for you to learn at this part of your life. Are you ready? Do you know that? Well.
Here’s another item under this strategy. The power of the Atonement is far more reaching than you think. You see, we grow up thinking that the Atonement is just for the remission of our sins. Listen to Elder Bednar: “I’m not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is…for saints—for good men and women who are obedient and worthy and conscientious and who are striving to become better and [to] serve more faithfully. I frankly do not think many of us ‘get it’ concerning this enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become [saints] all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower…discipline, and…our obviously limited [capabilities].” (Bednar, David A. BYU Devotional Oct. 23, 2001. http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=251)
Brothers and sisters, the Atonement is there to make bad men good and good men better, and you are good men and women. And the enabling power of the Atonement makes you brighter and makes you smarter and has a greater capability to increase your understanding. So use it. Use it. You are entitled to call upon the powers of heaven to come down, and for angels to support you when you have done all that you can do. And you who hold the priesthood especially have that opportunity and responsibility when you home teach, and when you’re in an elevator, and when you see somebody that needs help. If God is going to lift them, who do you think is going to do it? We are. We are.
Okay, number 3; I’ve got to hurry: Just for today, will you take the Lord at His word? Just for today, will you take the Lord at His word and trust Him? Listen to His voice: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit…in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D&C 84:88)
“Behold, I say unto you, go forth as I have commanded you; repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you.
“Behold, I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst, and you shall not be confounded.” (D&C 49:26-27)
Oftentimes, we will believe in Jesus Christ. But oftentimes we won’t believe Him. Now when He makes a promise to you like the ones I just read, and you couple that with the Atonement, and you couple that with embracing who you really are, then we’re going to get out of your way. But too many of us do not claim the blessings that Father in Heaven has for us, because we don’t believe they apply to us. Listen to His promises for you:
“I delight to bless [you] with the greatest of all blessings.” (D&C 41:1) I delight to bless you with the greatest of blessings. And He has made it very clear how we do it and how He does it.
“There is a law irrevocably decreed…before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 121:20-21; also see D&C 132:3, 5; 111:11; 121:33; 88:64) He delights to bless you; He has told you how to do it.
And then, just to make sure you can trust Him, He says, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10) I invite you, brothers and sisters, to trust Him, to bind the Lord to His promises to you—the promises in the Scriptures, and the promises in your patriarchal blessings—you go bind Him, because He delights to bless you, and He has told you the conditions under which He will do it. All right.
Strategy number 4: Just for today, will you be “All in”? Oh, I’m out of time. I’ll tell you this story. We’ll do this story. I have eight minutes left. I told this at new student orientation, so forgive me if you have heard it. I’m going to tell you a story about a pig and a chicken. They were walking down the street one day and there was a billboard, and on the billboard, part of it was an advertisement for breakfast from the Dairy Association. And on the billboard, part of it was this plate [of eggs and bacon]. And the chicken says to the pig, “Don’t we look wonderful? Think of how many people we empower every morning. Think of how many people wake up every morning to us.”
And the pig is conspicuously silent. So the chicken is trying it again. “This is wonderful. Look at the contribution we’ve made to the world to strengthen them.”
Finally, the pig says, “Look. For you, my friend chicken, it’s a contribution. For me, it’s a total commitment.” You were a little slow on that one. If you didn’t get it, ask a friend afterwards. He’ll draw a picture. Okay?
I’m inviting you, brothers and sisters, to be “all in” this semester. Be all in. Be committed. “No [man] can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13)
“And Elijah came unto…the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
Elder Holland—he gives us a modern version of those two scriptures. Here we go; I love this one: “The future of [the] world has long been declared; the final outcome between good and evil is already known. There is absolutely no question…because the victory has already been posted on the scoreboard. The only really strange thing in all of this is that we are still down here on the [playing] field” deciding whose jersey we’re going to put on. (Holland, Jeffrey R. Email correspondence from Elder Holland to John Bytheway, 1 June 2004)
Are you with me? I invite you, brothers and sisters, to put on the jersey. I will be careful with my language. Some of you wear the jersey as a reminder to be “all in.” So.
Number 5: Just for today, deny yourself of all ungodliness. Moroni—his very last, he last statements to us in the 32nd verse of Moroni 10. He says this: “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness.” What a wonderful goal. Just do it today. Okay? Just today. So I invite you to deny yourself of everything that does not bring you the faith, hope, and charity that Moroni talked about. And if something doesn’t lead to faith, hope, and charity in your life, don’t say it, don’t do it, don’t even look like it, or don’t look at it. Just one day, deny yourself of all ungodliness.
So there are five strategies. Now why do I say do it just for today? Because improvement really is one day at a time. And part of what we are talking about is what Elder Maxwell described as “educating our desires.” (Maxwell, Neal A., “Free to Choose,” BYU Devotional, March 16, 2004) Oooh. Isn’t that good? Educating our desires—that takes time. So all you have to do is for today. Do it. Do those five—today. And then tomorrow, just do it today. And then the next day, just do it today. And pretty soon, you’ll be astounded. No, you won’t, because you won’t see the change. We’ll see it in you. We’ll see it in your face. We’ll see it, brethren, in your face. We’ll see it in your eyes. We will feel it in your spirit when we are in your presence.
That’s why I wanted to talk to you as your big brother, because I want to see it in you. It will come onto you so slowly, it will be like the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants, as the dews distill from heaven. It will be that slow. You can’t see dew, can you? You only come out in the morning, and there it is. If you stayed up all night watching for it you couldn’t see it as it started. It just is there. And that’s what will happen to you. I want to see it. And when we do that, we will have created a Zion people. Zion, Elder Holland said to some of us a couple of weeks ago, is not so much a place, but how we choose to live.
I invite you to employ those five strategies to help us build Zion within these four walls—a little place of safety, a little place where the Spirit commands, a little place where you can be the real you without the pressures of the day, without the pressures of society.
Brothers and sisters, I love you. The Lord loves you. He lives. He is involved in the details of your life, if you will allow Him to be. God is our Father. Joseph was His prophet. We are led today by a prophet. I so testify, and leave his love, which he has asked us to do on several occasions—to leave the prophet’s love—with you as a blessing, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.