Editor's note: "This week from the pulpit" highlights recent messages by General Authorities and General Officers of the Church.
Graduation season has arrived and several Church leaders have offered timeless advice to those stepping out of higher education and into the rest of their lives.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong spoke at the Brigham Young University commencement ceremony where he encouraged graduates to continue to build upon the foundation they have begun and seek out ways to do good. Elder Timothy J. Dyches, a General Authority Seventy, spoke to BYU–Hawaii graduates of finding strength in truth.
The presidents of BYU–Idaho and Ensign College also addressed their respective student body in devotionals this week about making spirituality a priority and focusing on one's character.
Even if graduation ceremonies are not part of your life right now, the messages shared this week are relevant to all who are seeking to find deeper fulfillment in their lives.
By Rachel Sterzer Gibson, Church News
Beth O’Brien is grateful for her Brigham Young University education.
On Thursday, O’Brien graduated with a master’s degree in social work. As a single parent, she will now be joining a clinical practice down the street from her home in Springville, Utah, that will allow her to prioritize her life with her children while still supporting them financially. “It’s kind of all my dreams coming true,” she told the Church News.
O’Brien said she knows of no other program or environment that would have been as supportive of her situation or prepared her to be employable for a meaningful job. “I feel really grateful,” she said.
O’Brien’s experience is indicative of the firm foundation created from an education at BYU that Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of in his remarks during the BYU commencement ceremony on Thursday morning, April 22.
In his address that was broadcast from the Marriott Center on the Provo, Utah, campus, the Apostle repeatedly encouraged graduates to “build with gratitude on a firm BYU foundation.”
Part of that endeavor is seeking every opportunity to improve and do better, Elder Gong explained. “Please continue to be good, so you can do the most good, whatever your circumstance, wherever you are.”
Read the rest of Elder Gong's remarks as well as a summary of BYU President Kevin J Worthen's messages at Church News.
In these ‘exceptional’ times, BYU–Hawaii graduates taught they can find enduring strength in eternal truths
By Rachel Sterzer Gibson, Church News
In the last year, students of BYU–Hawaii have faced many disruptions to their education. The seaside university located in Laie, Hawaii, which includes a large international student body, canceled in-person classes and transitioned to a primarily remote learning model for much of the pandemic.
In Saturday’s commencement ceremony—the university’s fourth such event to be held virtually—Elder Timothy J. Dyches, a General Authority Seventy, told the 254 BYU–Hawaii graduates that they have proven to be “adjustable, adaptable and exceptional.”
Like the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “‘[You] have fought the good fight, [you] have finished the course, [you] have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for [you] a crown’ (2 Timothy 4:7-8) or perhaps a degree,” Elder Dyches said.
The “exceptional times” faced by students in the last year may be just one of many complications they may encounter in coming days, Elder Dyches noted. “This new normal may be prologue to even more challenging new normals, each one with potential seismic impact upon you and your plans.”
Graduates must build and develop spiritual resilience upon a firm foundation, he said and quoted Helaman 5:12: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, … it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built.”
Read the full article, including remarks from BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III, at Church News.
By Megan McKeller, Church News
Lasting change usually happens gradually, taught President Henry J. Eyring in a recent BYU–Idaho devotional, “often in a dance of two steps forward and one or more steps back.”
These “steps back” can lead to frustration and the feeling that the windows of Heaven are closed.
Earthly temptations and weaknesses can also prove to be a challenge, as demonstrated by the Apostles Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane, where they struggled to stay awake while the Savior undertook His Atonement. After finding them asleep, Christ said, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41).
When President Eyring was a young father, he was ”frustrated in his professional ambitions (and) he let distress get the better of him.”
“And I failed to hide that distress, as was manifested in my hair, which fell out from head to toe, including eyelashes and brows,” he recalled.
He asked his wife to seek Heaven’s help on his behalf. Several days later, she returned and told him, “I have received a clear answer. I was told, ‘Henry should keep a journal.’”
Although it was not the answer he was hoping for, President Eyring found “emotional and spiritual salvation” in journaling as he began to recognize signs of hope and even small miracles in his daily activities.
“I still felt a sense of falling and failing spiritually,” he recounted. “However, the rate of falling was slower.”
By Megan McKellar, Church News
Much of the content posted on today’s social media platforms is more concerned with reputation than character. President Bruce C. Kusch explained the difference between the two in an Ensign College devotional on April 20.
“Character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are,” President Kusch explained, quoting legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Social media is often used to create a reputation, but at the sacrifice of character. "What we see is most often not a view of ‘things as they really are,’ rather, ‘things as I want you to think they are.’"
Social media is often used to create a reputation, but at the sacrifice of character. "What we see is most often not a view of ‘things as they really are,’ rather, ‘things as I want you to think they are.’"
Tests of character are a necessary part of mortality. Although examples of cheating, lying or other forms of dishonesty are rampant in today’s society, President Kusch invited students to resist from succumbing to the pressure to do the same.
“It may seem to be the only option at the moment in a very competitive or desperate situation. Don’t do it!” he said.
Read a full summary of President Kusch's remarks, as well as remarks from his wife, Sister Alynda Kusch, at Church News.
By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News
As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated across the world in early 2020, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints turned their attention to the safety of 62,000 full-time missionaries. Facing increasing health risks and nations about to close their borders, wherever necessary Church leaders began returning missionaries to their home nations.
“We might have been surprised, but God was not,” said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council.
In a new Church News video, titled “Back to the Future,” Elder Uchtdorf shares an important lesson about missionary work, learned during the pandemic: “Don’t focus on the things you cannot do, focus on the things you can do.”
Watch the video at Church News.
By Craig B. Ballard, Young Men General Advisory Council
Some may have assumed that missionary work could not continue during the pandemic. Not only has it continued, but many missions report having more success during 2020 than in 2019.
Despite challenges, our missionaries have been diligent.
As young men recite the Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Theme, they say: “I will prepare to become a diligent missionary, loyal husband, and loving father by being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”
The best and most diligent missionaries are first and foremost true disciples of Jesus Christ. The word disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus, meaning learner or follower. Our Savior modeled being a disciple by being diligent and obedient in all that He did. Thus, He “increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
Read the full article, including a timely letter Brother Craig B. Ballard received years ago from his father, President M. Russell Ballard, during a difficult moment on his mission at Church News.
Social Media Posts from Church Leaders
The Sunday School General Presidency recently created accounts on Facebook and Instagram. See their first posts below, followed by other posts from Church leaders this week.