John Hilton III: How to Find Peace in a World Searching For It
We live in a world that seems to be constantly asking the question we often sing, “Where Can I Turn For Peace?” Along with the age old concerns, our society faces additional new challenges as a result of living in a technology-centered, social media world. Slap a pandemic on top of that and, as we’ve learned in recent weeks, the world truly feels like it is in pandemonium. But John Hilton, an author and associate professor of Ancient Scripture, believes that help for even the most current challenges can be found through the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the pages of scripture.
If we can shift our mentality from ‘Okay, I’m going to pray and God’s going to bless me with exactly what I want when I want it,’ to ‘I’m going to keep my covenants no matter what,’ it’s a powerful shift in our lives— when we remember it’s okay if our kids don’t do everything that we hope they will. It’s okay if I lose this great opportunity. In the long run, Jesus Christ is going to wipe away all of my tears and I can focus my hope on Him.
Video: Deseret Book LIVE Video with John Hilton: 5-Minute Fireside
BYU Study on Legalism: "Grace, Legalism and Mental Health Among Latter-Day Saints" Daniel K. Judd, W. Justin Dyer
BYU Article: "Applying Grace to Improve Mental Health for Young Adults," Megan Gale, 2019
John's Blog: Post about Fence Laws
Ensign Articles about Scrupulosity:
"Understanding Scrupulosity (Religious OCD)," Debra Theobald McClendon, PhD
"My Battle with Religious OCD," Derek Baker
BYU Article about Scrupulosity: "Scrupulosity: Practical Treatment Considerations Drawn from Clinical and Ecclesiastical Experiences with Latter-day Saint Persons Struggling with Religiously-oriented Obsessive Compulsive Disorder," Kyle N. Weir, Mandy Greaves, Christopher Kelm, Rahul Ragu, and Rick Denno.
LDSLiving Article: "First Presidency Calls for More Christ Focused Art in Latter-Day Saint Meetinghouses"
LDSLiving Article by John: "John Hilton III: It's Okay to Feel Sad"
John's Blog: Resources from John Hilton III about peace
2:10- Bullying, Kindness and Resilience
6:48- Balancing Professional Help and Spiritual Tools
8:44- Aiming for Perfection/Legalism
10:50- Fence Laws
15:56- Patterns of Peace
20:40- Peace Amidst Pandemic
23:52- “Know the Church is True” or “Know Christ”
26:18- Why Have a Relationship with Christ?
28:18- Turning the Hearts of the Children to the Fathers
29:34- Why Understanding Grace Matters in Mental Health
33:05- What Does It Mean To You To Be “All In” the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
In John chapter 14, Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." These days, it seems that more and more hearts are troubled, more and more of us sometimes feel afraid. How do we find that peace that Christ promised? The peace that is unlike any peace the world can give us?
John Hilton III is an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. Prior to his position at BYU, he worked with seminaries and institute programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a variety of capacities. John has a master's degree from Harvard and a PhD from BYU, both in education. He loves teaching, snowboarding, doing humanitarian service, performing magic, and spending time with his family. John and his wife, Lani, are the parents of six children. This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, "What does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so grateful to have John Hilton on the line with me today. John, welcome.
John Hilton III 1:23
Thank you, Morgan. It's great to be here.
Morgan Jones 1:26
Well, I have been listening—I usually am not an audiobook person, but in quarantine, I think you start doing things you don't normally do. So I'm usually a hard book person, but I've been listening to your new book, Founder of our Peace, and I love it. And I've been learning so much, so I'm so excited to share some of the things that you have studied, and ideas that you've pondered, and things that have ruminated for you. And I think that they'll be so helpful to people especially right now, because we're in a very weird time, and I think you have so many valuable thoughts to share with people. So first of all, John, I am curious, when you started to view the gospel as a tool to battling concerns, worries, and at times, even anxieties that we have in our minds and in our hearts.
John Hilton III 2:27
You know, Morgan, honestly, for me, at a young age it started. When I was about 11-years-old, one day at recess, this bully came up to me and he said, "John, after school, I'm going to beat you up." And I'm sure he didn't really mean it, and he forgot about it, but I didn't forget about it. I was terrified, and I ran home from school as fast as I could. But even though the bully didn't find me after school, I realized I had a problem. I had a paper route, and in order to pick up my newspapers every day, I would have to ride my bike right past the bully's house. So not that first day, but within a few days after that, I was afraid every single day. I dreaded that hour or two of my afternoon. And so I realized I needed to do something.
And again, I don't know how this idea came to my mind, but I felt like I should look up the word "fear" in the Topical Guide, and I started finding verses like, "the righteous need not fear," or, "they that be with us or more than those that be with them." And I wrote a little list of 10 or 15 scriptures that really gave me a lot of comfort and peace, and before I would go pick up my newspapers every day, or in future months, when I was afraid for some other reason I would reread those scriptures. So again, I think it's kind of funny that I had that idea as a kid. It must have been a great family home evening my parents gave one day, or a talk in church. But even at a young age, I had the impression that the teachings of Jesus Christ could help me with situations that were emotionally dangerous for me.
Morgan Jones 3:56
I want to touch on this actually before we go on to anything else, this idea of bullying and kindness. It's actually something that I've been thinking about the past few days, because one of my very best friends has a daughter. And in quarantine, she was in a group text and somebody started making fun of her, not realizing that she was in the text.
John Hilton III 4:26
Morgan Jones 4:26
I know, I know. And my heart has just been hurting over this and remembering how hard it was for me growing up, but how much harder it has to be now for kids when there is so much technology and I just wonder, John, as somebody that experienced that bullying, why do you think it's so important for us to encourage kindness? And then also, with you and your own family now, how do you encourage that? And also, what do you teach your kids about when they do encounter people that are unkind?
John Hilton III 5:09
Yeah, you know, that's such a huge issue. And it's so sad that it is that way. I mean, I think if you focus on Jesus Christ Himself, kindness is his epitome, right? He epitomizes kindness. And so the more that we can strive to have kindness in our lives, I think we're going to be a lot happier. The challenge is, like you said, what happens when our kids are interacting with people who aren't, or we're interacting with people who aren't? So for me, I think one of the most important things we can do is to help our children build resilience. Because bad things are gonna happen to them, whether that's on the playground when they're 11 years old, or in a group chat when they're 15 years old, but at some point in time, they need to know how to bounce back from these difficult things.
For me, I think it's really helpful to know that there are lots of people in the scriptures that have gone through depression, fear, anxiety. Nephi, we could say, was bullied in a major way by his older brothers, and they were able to find comfort and peace. So I think, even though, you know, in some situations, for example, you're going to need counseling, or you're gonna need some outside professional help with dealing with severe issues of bullying. I think that there's a lot that we can gain by focusing on how people in the scriptures handled similarly difficult situations.
Morgan Jones 6:28
Yeah, no, that's a great example. And I think Nephi, you know, who doesn't want their older siblings to think that they are just the coolest? And how much that must have hurt him. I think that's such a good example. You mentioned that sometimes these things—bullying, worry, any amount of anxiety—that sometimes these things require professional help. So we're going to talk today about some tools and things for battling and combating these difficult emotional things that we experience in our lives. But first of all, before we get into that, I just want to ask, how do you balance using these tools and seeking professional help? Because I don't want these things to be viewed as a replacement for that, for seeking that professional help if needed.
John Hilton III 7:24
I think that's such an important point. The way that I think about finding peace through Jesus Christ is that it's necessary, but it may not be sufficient, depending on the situation. If someone is struggling with clinical depression, undoubtedly, they're going to gain strength from focusing on Jesus Christ. But there's also going to need to be medical interventions as well. And so I believe that the types of tools that I write about in the Founder of our Peace are things that we can all try, we can all benefit from. And for some of us, that might be all we need to find greater peace in our lives. But if we're doing those types of things, and still finding out ourselves in the cloud of depression, or faced with crippling anxiety, that's also a signal that more professional help would be needed.
Morgan Jones 8:08
That's an excellent answer. I've actually never thought of it exactly that way. I think sometimes, John, even just our efforts to live the gospel can lead to worry or anxiety for some people. And it's not that that's what God would want for us. I think, actually, quite the opposite. But I think sometimes, we tend to view scriptures or prayers as something that we have to do every day, and if we don't do those things, what's going to happen to us? And I just wondered what you think we can learn about how God feels about our efforts to perfectly live the gospel leading to feelings of anxiousness.
John Hilton III 8:56
Yeah, that's a really interesting connection because even though you think living the Gospel is gonna bring peace, sometimes, this attempt to "over-live" the gospel can bring anxiety. In psychology, this would be termed legalism. Legalism is this excessive conformity to a religious code, where it's one thing to keep the commandments, but to be legalistic would be to make sure that I'm doing every little tiny thing, and if I make one small mistake, I'm beating myself up for it. And actually, some BYU professors recently published a study where they surveyed BYU students and those who were excessively focused, that had this legalistic tendency of "I've got to do everything just perfect," they had a harder time feeling the grace of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I know that was super interesting that they could figure this out through psychological surveys and identify that a focus on legalism interrupts our ability to have grace. A real quick side note, Morgan, I forgot, do we have show notes?
Morgan Jones 10:00
John Hilton III 10:00
I mean, I can give you a link to put into the article for show notes or something like that.
Morgan Jones 10:07
Absolutely, yep. Anything that you reference we can totally link to.
John Hilton III 10:12
So yeah, maybe we can put in a little link in the show notes to a summary of their article, or the full article. I can give them both to you. But again, I think it's really interesting that, although in general, keeping the commandments brings peace, if we become excessively focused on perfectionism, trying to do everything just right, that actually can have the opposite effect.
Morgan Jones 10:35
Yeah, it's like the Pharisees, you know? Like, if we are so obsessed with counting our steps every day, then we've kind of missed the point.
John Hilton III 10:49
Yeah, and that example of counting our steps—so there's nothing in the Bible that says how many steps you can take on Sunday or the Sabbath day, but one of the things that the Pharisees were focused on are what we might call "fence laws." These extra rules or commandments that they imposed to make sure that they didn't break a real commandment. So a real commandment is to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy, but then they put these extra little rules. And I think that sometimes in our lives, it's trying to keep up with all these extra rules that aren't even part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that can add a lot of stress or judgment, where it leads us to feel judged by others or to judge others, all of which are really damaging to our peace.
Morgan Jones 11:30
Yeah, John, you talk about these fence laws in your book. Can you give listeners a couple of examples of some of those things that we see in our culture today?
John Hilton III 11:44
Yeah, you bet. And just to be clear, sometimes fence laws can be really helpful, especially if they're coming from a prophet, or maybe a person feels the Holy Ghost guiding them to a fence law. So just because something is a fence law doesn't mean that it's not good. So, for example, a mother might tell her teenager, "You're not allowed to go into the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex." So there's nothing against the commandments about going into the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex. But that's a fence law to prevent someone from breaking the law of chastity. Or a college student might pray and feel the Holy Ghost guide her to a very specific standard for the law of chastity. And those are great examples.
I think the trouble comes when we start to use the personal fences we create for ourselves as a standard that everyone has to follow. So for example, let's say that I find it really helpful to write down a tender mercy that I receive every day. So I give a talk in Sacrament meeting and describe the importance of writing down a tender mercy every day. Well, then maybe another person who's felt prompted to do something different with their scripture study could feel pressure, like, "Oh, well now I'm not really all in if I don't do that as well." And when that starts to add up, then the high councilor says, "We need to read all the general conference talks three times between each conference session." And then I find out I'm supposed to be reading the Come, Follow Me curriculum, and all of a sudden I can be caught up in a frenzy to do all these great tasks that, individually, would be amazing, but together can maybe put on too much pressure.
Morgan Jones 13:14
Yeah. Two things to follow up on that. I think one thing is that sometimes when we've put a lot of pressure on ourselves to keep those personal fence laws that we've established, sometimes we feel guilt that we didn't live up to even our own standard. And I think that that can be detrimental. Another thing that I was just thinking about, John, is, have you heard of the term "scrupulosity"?
John Hilton III 13:46
Yeah, no, that would be related to the legalism that we were talking about, where you're just so laser-focused on having everything done just right.
Morgan Jones 13:54
Yeah. So for those listening that are not familiar with this, I'll actually link—there were two articles in the September Ensign, but it was the online version only. And I've become kind of fascinated by this concept of scrupulosity, which is a religious form of OCD, as I understand it. And it's where these are good things, our efforts to do these good things, ultimately turn into a negative because of the way that we're viewing them. And I think it's important for us to realize that is a thing, that that does happen to people, and that there are resources to help us in combating that and making sure that, for us, the gospel is a joyful thing. Because I don't think that the Lord intended it to be something that is hurting our souls or causing pain. I think he wants the gospel to be—and certainly there are things where we need repentance, and we need to go through different things to feel that joy again—but I think, long-term, he wants it to be a joyful thing. Would you agree with that, John?
John Hilton III 15:10
Absolutely. And I think that's a really important point for all of us who are maybe teachers in the church. So to realize that, if I'm teaching a class of people, and some of them have scrupulosity, they're going to hear my message very differently than somebody else in the room. And so, trying to strike the balance between reaching out—maybe there's someone in my classroom that actually needs a call to repentance, but that call to repentance might sound so harsh to a person with scrupulosity that they walk away feeling completely devastated. So I think just being aware that we're gonna have different people that we're teaching and different personality types can be really helpful as we extend invitations to others to live the gospel.
Morgan Jones 15:52
So well said, and such a great point. Okay, I want to talk a little bit about some of the patterns of peace that you talk about in this book. So, again, the intent is not to be a replacement for professional help, but I do think that you offer so many practical application suggestions for how to draw upon the peace that can come from the gospel of Jesus Christ in this book. So first of all, I just have to ask you, how did you discover these patterns of peace? And how did you originally have the idea for creating this book?
John Hilton III 16:32
So it was kind of an intersection between reading psychological studies and reading the scriptures, especially maybe lesser-known scripture stories. So just as an example, in the book of Genesis we read about a guy named Jacob—he's later can change his name to Israel—and Jacob's twin brother, Esau, they have a lot of disagreements together. So because he still wants to kill Jacob, Jacob leaves his hometown, but eventually when he comes back, he's brought his family with him. But Esau is coming towards him with an army of 400 people. And the scripture say that "Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed." And so, for the next 24 hours, he's doing all these things to prepare, but it turns out he had nothing to worry about. When he sees Esau the next day, Esau gives him a big hug. And so the lesson that I wrote down in my scriptures, there in Genesis, is sometimes the things that we're worried about don't actually happen.
And then I came across some psychological studies that show that actually, in modern life, psychologists have established that's a fact—that, for many of us, most of the things that we worry about actually don't happen. So seeing this connection between a lesser-known scripture study and the psychological study got me really interested in, What other principles can we find in the scriptures that might help bring greater peace to our hearts?"
Morgan Jones 17:50
That is so cool. And I think so, so important. We had an episode of this podcast where we had Brooke Snow on, and she talked about how her mission president gave her some advice. And he just said, "Nothing is going to happen to your family if you don't pray for them every day." And I thought that was kind of mind-shifting for me. Because growing up, I had like a laundry list of things that I needed to pray about every night, and if I didn't pray about those things, I felt like something bad might happen. I just don't think that's the way that God works, and so I love that you're talking about—a lot of these things that we're worried about are not real. And I think so many of the things worry is stemming from are thoughts about a certain thing.
John Hilton III 18:43
Right, and often, even if whatever we're worried about were to actually happen, we overestimate how bad it's going to hurt, and we underestimate our ability to bounce back. So I think there's a host of great lessons that we can learn both from the scriptures and modern psychology about overcoming these natural tendencies that many of us have, to worry and obsess about things that, like you were saying, don't actually even matter.
Morgan Jones 19:09
Yeah, I am interested, John, in how these things that we're going to talk about, these patterns of peace, how they have helped you in your personal life.
John Hilton III 19:22
Well, maybe I can give a couple of examples. One of these patterns of peace, we learn from Alma the younger. So Alma the younger, he has two major jobs once he repents and gets on the right track. He's the chief judge, so it's the highest political office in all the land, and he's also the high priest, which is the highest office in the church. And he's so busy, the time comes when he really can't effectively do both of these things, so he quits one of them, he quits being the chief judge so that he can focus on his role as the high priest. And to me, that was a really powerful shift to see that Alma, like me, like you, like many of us, he's juggling so many good things—it's not like he's choosing between good and bad, he's choosing between good and good—but he had to decide what he would stop doing so he could do the things that were most important. And for me, that's been a really powerful life lesson as to a lot of times the lack of peace I feel in my life is just that I'm trying to do too much. I'm overly stressed. And it's important to look and say, "Okay, what can I stop doing?" A lot of times we think, "Okay, what am I going to start doing?" But Alma teaches us, "What will I stop doing?" For me that's been really helpful.
Morgan Jones 20:35
That's really insightful. So I feel like right now, people's worries are very broad. I just did something for my church calling last night, we did kind of like a pseudo podcast, and I interviewed a therapist asking a bunch of questions that sisters in my single's stake have about this time with the pandemic. And they were so broad, and some of the things I never would have even thought about. So I think there's a wide span of concerns and worries that are weighing heavy on people's hearts, ranging from financial and economic concerns to social concerns, and on and on and on. So right now, while anxieties run high, which Christ-centered patterns do you think would be most helpful for people to learn about?
John Hilton III 21:33
One of them that I think is really valuable is to shift our hopes from temporal things to a hope in Jesus Christ. So I mean, think about something that you regret, maybe something in the past week or month that you deeply regret. I found in my life, that if I can shift that regret to a focus on Jesus Christ, it can change my perspective. Maybe I can give a specific example, let's say, financially right now I'm hurting because I've lost some money due to COVID-19, some job opportunities I was counting o, I'm not getting anymore. But I can shift that economic loss if I focus and remember, "Look, my goals in life aren't only about money. There's a focus on Jesus Christ, and he's still there." That can bring some peace. In fact, Mormon, in the book of Moroni, chapter seven, he says, "What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold... ye shall have hope through the Atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection." So a lot of things in our life are going wrong and, honestly, might not go right.
John Hilton III 22:41
In fact—this is kind of a related topic—but I think one of the lessons that, for me, has been really powerful in bringing peace, and maybe for us at this difficult time, is to remember that, especially in the scriptures, there is often not a happy ending. We tend to focus on the miracles like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are delivered from the fiery furnace. But Abinadi? He's put to death. Or we talking about Ammon and the sons of Mosiah, and they convert all the Lamanites, it's this awesome miracle. But Mormon? Mormon spends his whole life trying to convert the Nephites, they don't convert and they're all destroyed by the Lamanites, and Mormon is eventually murdered. I mean, his life does not turn out, in mortality, to have a happy ending. I think if we can shift our mentality from "Okay, I'm going to pray and God's going to bless me with exactly what I want when I want it," to, "I'm going to keep my covenants no matter what." It's a powerful shift in our lives when we remember, it's okay if our kids don't do everything that we hope they will, or it's okay if I lose this great opportunity. In the long run, Jesus Christ is going to wipe away all my tears, and I can focus my hope on him.
Morgan Jones 23:51
Yeah. I want to talk a little bit, John, about having a relationship with Christ and coming to know him. First of all, I wonder, have you always felt that you have had a strong relationship with Christ in your personal life? Or do you feel like that is something that there were kind of points that you can point back to and say, "Oh, that's where I created that relationship with Christ, or that's where my relationship with Christ became stronger."
John Hilton III 24:25
So to be honest with you, I don't know that I could say I've always had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ because I don't think that that was always my focus. I was recently talking with a friend who's probably in his 60's and, like many people, one of the big challenges in his life is that some of his children are leaving the church. And he said to me—I'm paraphrasing his words—he said to me something like, "I wonder if we focused so much when your generation was growing up, on the phrase, 'I know the church is true,' that we forgot you to mention, 'I know that Jesus Christ is true.'" And this is, I mean, of course, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, that's not what I'm saying. But sometimes I think, and this was for me, when I was growing up, there was a focus on "The Church is true, the Church is true," but not so much what that meant in terms of Jesus Christ. And I see today the Church leaders really focusing us so much more on Jesus Christ. It's not, "The Church is true," it's "This is the Church of Jesus Christ, it's His gospel." And so over the past probably decade, as I've focused more directly on Jesus Christ to study his life, his teachings, with more of a purpose and a focus of thinking about Jesus Christ... yes, I definitely feel like I've come to know him better, and developed that relationship.
Morgan Jones 25:45
Yeah, I think building that relationship is kind of like a lifelong quest and something that changes and evolves over time, at least in my personal experience. I feel like my relationship with Christ, and my dependence on him is very different than it was a few years ago, and I'm grateful for that. That doesn't mean that it's been easy, but I'm grateful for the role that He has taken in my life. And I wonder, for you, John, what do you think people have to gain? So let's say there's a college student that is kind of like, "I don't really understand what I have to gain from having a relationship with Christ." What would you say we stand to gain from establishing that relationship, or working to strengthen it? And how does that invite peace into our lives? Because I think every college student would like to feel more peace. This is not an easy time to be a college student.
John Hilton III 26:51
I totally agree. I mean, it's like Abinadi. Abinadi is the one who used the phrase to describe Jesus Christ, "He is the founder of peace." And I think, if some people grew up and they think about Jesus Christ, maybe in a negative way, maybe because of scrupulosity or something else, is that it's a checklist mentality. But Jesus Christ brings joy. King Benjamin said, "Whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same can rejoice with exceedingly great joy." And I think if we just understand that developing a relationship with Jesus Christ is something that brings joy, warmth, love, kindness, happiness into our lives, it's something that we'll naturally want to do. One thing that I think having a relationship with Jesus Christ helps us kind of remember and keep at the front of our minds is that this life is not the only life. We had a life in pre mortality, and we will have a life after this one because of Jesus Christ.
For me, one of the patterns of peace that's been really powerful is to remember that our ancestors are still alive. Even though they might not be alive on this earth, they're alive in the spirit world. And there are actually several quotes from prophets that talk about how our ancestors still know who we are, they care about us, and maybe, in answer to our prayers, when God's going to dispatch a heavenly messenger to help out, sometimes he will send our ancestors. And so, for me, one of the patterns of peace that's been really powerful is to specifically pray for ancestors to help with challenges that I'm facing that I think they would particularly care about.
I remember my wife and I were going through a really difficult time about three years ago, there was a huge challenge in our lives. And we both felt really impressed to pray and specifically ask for some of our great-great-grandparents to assist us in this challenge. And it brought a tremendous amount of peace into our lives. And I just want to say, I know that our ancestors are alive still and that they will reach out to us. And I'm not saying that we should pray to our ancestors, but we can pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Christ and ask for their help. We often talk about how the hearts of the children are turned to the fathers, so like we go to the temple and do work for our ancestors that they can't do for themselves, but the scriptures also say that the hearts of the fathers are turned to the children. And I think that they are on the other side working to do things that we can't do for ourselves. And knowing that, for me, has brought a lot of peace.
Morgan Jones 29:30
Yeah, I agree completely. You mentioned earlier, John, this study that was done at BYU by some BYU professors, I believe colleagues of yours, that studied about our understanding of grace, and how that can relate to feelings of worry, and that it can affect our mental health as well. Can you tell us a little bit about your understanding of that study, and what we can learn from that?
John Hilton III 30:08
Yeah, I think the key is to realize that we're not responsible to do everything on our own. Part of the study focused on this phrase, "we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." And some people feel like "Okay, that phrase, 'after all we can do,' means I've got to do all this stuff, and then the grace of Jesus Christ is going to kick in." And what the researchers found is that when young adults believe more in grace, they experience less anxiety, depression, shame, religious guilt. And that doesn't mean that we shouldn't repent, we don't do our best to keep the commandments, but when we remember that the grace of Jesus Christ is there to help us all the way, 100%, that changes our perspective and viewpoint on life.
Morgan Jones 31:01
Yeah. You work, John, with college-aged students. Is that right?
John Hilton III 31:08
That's true, yeah.
Morgan Jones 31:10
What have you seen in terms of things that cause worry and fear in college students, and how have you witnessed the power of Jesus Christ inviting peace into, specifically, that age demographic's lives?
John Hilton III 31:28
I think one of the biggest ones—it's huge for all of us, I think maybe especially college students—is comparison. So I'm a professor at Brigham Young University, and most of the students who come to BYU have been very successful academically. They were the Laurel class president, they were an amazing pianist, they pass three AP tests. And then they come to BYU and find out that all their roommates were the Laurel class president, and one of the roommates passed seven AP tests, and everyone can play the piano. And this sense of "I'm not enough" starts to fill in. And then I'm looking at social media, and I'm seeing what everyone else is doing and have this fear of missing out. And so I think all of these comparisons really can be debilitating in our lives.
So the solution to that, that I've actually witnessed in the lives of many of my college students, is to consciously focus on not comparing ourselves to others, but instead like we were talking about before, focusing on the grace of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, there's this really poignant part in Ether chapter 12 where Moroni is explicitly comparing his writing to the writing of the brother of Jared. And he's talking to the Lord and he says, "the Gentiles are going to mock at my writing, I'm not as good of a writer as the brother of Jared," and he's super discouraged. And it's in this context that Jesus says to Moroni, "My grace is sufficient." And I think that's so powerful that the solution for Moroni, and for us today, of this debilitating trap of comparison, is to remember that Jesus Christ's grace is sufficient. He is Enough.
Morgan Jones 33:01
That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that, John. I just have one last question for you before we wrap up, and it is the question that we ask at the end of every episode of this podcast. And that is, what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
John Hilton III 33:19
I love listening to this podcast, Morgan, so I knew that you were gonna ask that question. So I thought a little bit about it, and I think, for me, the number one part of that is to focus on Jesus Christ. Your question is, "what does it mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?" And I think there was probably an earlier time in my life when I focused on being all in the gospel, meaning I was focused on doing all these things that I'm supposed to do, but I wasn't focused on Jesus Christ. I was missing the mark. So the number one thing is, to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ means I'm focused on Jesus Christ. I'm trying to learn of him, I preach of Christ, I talk of Christ or rejoice of Christ, I'm studying Him. And then number two, I think is to listen to his prophets. Over and over again in the scriptures, Jesus Christ emphasizes the importance of prophets, and so for me to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have to be listening carefully to what they're saying and following their words.
Morgan Jones 34:14
Interesting, because I think those two things, before you even said number two, I was thinking, I think President Nelson is working so hard to point us toward that. Whether it's having Christ-centered art in the lobbies of our chapels, or changing the way that we refer to ourselves. I think all of those things are in an effort to point us toward Christ. And so, by following the Prophet, we'll be doing both of those things. So, John, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your insights, and good luck with sharing these things with other people. I think they're so important.
John Hilton III 34:52
Thanks, Morgan. It's been so great to talk with you today.
Morgan Jones 34:57
A huge thank you to John Hilton for joining us on this week's episode. Be sure to check out our show notes for additional resources. We'll also be sharing a special treat on our Instagram account later this week, so be sure to follow us at allin.podcast. Special thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix at 6 Studios for his work on this episode. We'll look forward to spending more time with you next week.