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Michael Middleton|May 26, 2015 Good morning, brothers and sisters. It is a pleasure to be with you. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: If the stars should appear [only] one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown [in the heavens]!1 Gazing upward into the blazing splendor of the night sky, we see thousands of distant stars and even more distant galaxies. This is truly amazing—and our reaction to it is equally remarkable. Think about what we do when we stargaze. Seeing light that left some distant suns about the time Columbus sailed for the New World, we immediately start creating associations between completely unrelated spheres—stars that are tens or hundreds of light years from each other and often even farther from the earth. Making such mental connections gives the stars familiarity and meaning, and we begin to see them not only as separate points of light but as constellations—a scorpion, a hunter named Orion, or the Big Dipper. There are practical uses for such astronomical inkblots. Try this: show your significant other pictures of various constellations and ask what he or she sees. If his answers are various types of weapons or characters from Middle Earth or if she replies, “I see a diamond engagement ring,” three out of four times, perhaps you should imitate the ancient mariners who navigated by the stars and make a course correction. One example of my own astrological incompetence is that for many years I thought I was seeing all of Ursa Major, or the Big Bear, which, candidly, to me looked a lot like a big dipper. In fact, I thought the Big Dipper and the Big Bear were simply two names for the same group of seven stars—until a wise friend explained that the Big Dipper is not actually a constellation but merely an asterism, or part of a constellation. I learned that you must include another twelve stars for the Big Dipper to become the Big Bear. Now, obviously I had seen those twelve stars before, but I had failed to recognize how they connected to and expanded what I already knew. Similarly, in the few minutes we share today, I propose to offer four points of light for your consideration, in hopes that by thinking about them together and by connecting them to stars already in your life’s sky, they will provide you with additional illumination and with greater direction in your life while at BYU and beyond. A First Star: Work Is Work Work is work, and that’s okay; it is acceptable, normal, expected, and part of the plan. Whether you are a BYU student, faculty member, or staff employee, if you don’t like work, you have come to the wrong university, and likely to the wrong planet. Schoolwork, missionary work, homework, and housework—the part-time job you have now and the career vocation you may one day take on—each of these will be wo
Monte R. Swain|May 27, 2008 Brothers and sisters, I’m grateful to be here. I’ve been rather sleepless while preparing my remarks. I’ve felt some concern. But standing here today, seeing you all before me, I feel blessed—blessed to speak from a lectern where saints and scholars and prophets have spoken, and more blessed to come to this campus each day to teach and be taught by wonderful students who are my brothers and sisters and to work with faculty and staff who are reaching for something here that is more than a job. Today I want to address my remarks to you who may be feeling tired and a little worn down, who may be struggling with feelings of frustration about being a student at BYU, and who may even be feeling a little cynical about what we’re trying to accomplish here. There are some challenging days. There are days when a teacher, an administrator, a classmate, or a roommate does not speak or act as one should in Zion. There are days when you and I do not speak or act as we should in Zion. There are days when we’re confused about a policy or process here that seems inconsistent with the principles of Zion. Sometimes we experience a bit of emotional whiplash when our lives get bumped hard by an experience or a challenge that is painful—painful enough that it pulls us up short and we find ourselves saying, “Wait a minute! I thought this was BYU, the Lord’s school. I thought it was Heavenly Father’s will that I be a BYU student. What in the world is going on here?” You may chuckle—perhaps a bit nervously—at that representation. If you do, it’s probably because you have had some experiences along these lines. And so it’s to you that I address my remarks. BYU is not Zion. Not yet. It is Zion’s university—and it is under construction. It is a work in progress. However—and this is the core of my remarks today—here at BYU it is not an academic program or an athletic program or even a missionary or leadership program that is under construction. It is you. You and I are the whole point of it. Occasionally it is my great privilege to host colleagues from other universities and other faiths who come to present their academic work in the Marriott School. On several occasions I have begun the day by driving my colleague to a place overlooking campus. From this vantage point we can see BYU as well as the Provo Temple and the Missionary Training Center. My objective is to begin the day with a visual of what BYU is all about. I speak briefly to my guest about you students—who come here to learn and in whom so much hope is placed by the Church, as evidenced by investments made in your education. I talk about how the learning that occurs simultaneously at the MTC and at the temple imbues a larger sense of purpose to us here on campus. I share this because I believe that my guests have good hearts and will reverence the message. I believe that they are impressed by the vision of what they see. I hope that this view is endo
Steven John Pearson|Apr. 26, 2007 I enjoy pondering apparent gospel paradoxes. Jesus taught: “Be ye therefore perfect.”1 Yet Paul counseled, “Be content with such things as ye have.”2 Nephi wrote: “Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!”3 And yet “all is well” are the very words of the refrain in a beloved hymn that chimes across BYU campus each hour. That same hourly chime also reminds us “no toil nor labor fear.”4 We have labored long and hard to be here at this commencement. We honor those who have worked beyond the normal measure, who of necessity have had 4 a.m. janitorial employment or those like Chris Peterman, graduating with us in manufacturing engineering and technology, who stayed in school and raised his son alone after losing his wife to cancer during his freshman year. We thank those professors, parents, and others who have also labored that we might be here. However, for most of us the roads of the future will be longer and harder than those we have already walked. Unlike the world, we must not worship the idol of idleness. In an adaptation of Bertrand Russell, I would say that most men would rather die than work, and many do,5 losing in laziness the life they had longed for. A life of leisure is not a right to which we are somehow entitled. Working late into the night to write a paper is not somehow unfair. The economic development of the last two centuries has freed us from the necessity of near-constant labor, but we still are not free from the divine injunction that man is to live by the sweat of his face.6 R&R should not be the goals of our work but rather tools to help us work effectively. Though we should work to produce, we must not let our works produce unrighteous pride. In humility we must recall, as Shelley observed, that “the lone and level sands” of time will wipe away anything we build on this earth.7 Then why work? Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of . . . what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of . . . what we have become.”8 Work changes us in at least two major ways. First, we come to value that for which we must work. According to the biblical account, Laban did not require Jacob to work seven years for Rachel; Jacob loved her and he offered to work seven years for her,9 and I believe he knew he would love her the more for it. Those of us who are graduating single have not yet been notified about the fabled tuition refund, yet I think that we will love our future spouse the more for all the awkward dating moments at movies, malt shops, and miniature golf courses. Work reveals worth and thus brings joy. While I was in high school, my family held scripture memorization contests each year at Christmas. Participants had to memorize all of the seminary scripture mastery scriptures and compete against my fat
David E. Sorensen|Mar. 6, 2005 I would like to express my appreciation to all the priesthood leaders and their wives who are here with us this evening. I’m especially grateful that Elder and Sister Cecil O. Samuelson are here. It was a great privilege to labor with Elder Samuelson in the Temple Department for many years. I can assure the students at Brigham Young University, as well as the faculty, that they are blessed under the able leadership of President and Sister Samuelson. Tonight as I’ve thought about what I wanted to say to you, the young people of the Church, it has occurred to me that many are students. The reality is, my dear young friends, that we are all students of the gospel, aren’t we? There was a man who worked for the United States Treasury Department. His job was investigating cases where counterfeit money was involved. He was so good at what he did that all it took was a quick look at a bill and he could tell if it was genuine or counterfeit. One evening at a press conference following his breaking up of a major counterfeit ring, one of the reporters directed this statement to him: “You must spend a lot of time studying counterfeit bills to recognize them so easily.” His reply to this was, “No, I don’t ever study counterfeit bills. I spend my time studying genuine bills; then the imperfection is easy to recognize.” So it is with the gospel, dear brothers and sisters. We are here to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no need to study the counterfeit, for we have the truth. As you study the true Church and allow the Spirit to work within you, you will have the answers and come to know how to respond to the various situations you will face. Concerning the Book of Mormon, a young missionary shared this thought with me, which I have found to be true over the years: Remember that the Book of Mormon is not on trial—we are. This evening I would like to speak with you concerning one of the most essential principles of the entire gospel. I speak of the doctrine of work. It is my hope that what I say will help guide you in the work you are now doing or may be doing in the future. Those of you who are graduating from high school or college, or are otherwise in the work force, may be asking yourselves questions like this when you apply for employment: “What are my working hours? What are my fringe benefits? What holidays will I have off? Will I have enough time to hang out with my friends or pursue my hobbies?” With questions like these, however, when you focus on your leisure hours instead of your working hours, you may be prevented from seeing a much greater opportunity. God’s Work Work is an eternal principle. Whom do you know who has all the riches of the earth and more and yet is continually working? Our Heavenly Father! He is a worker. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have shown us by Their examples and teachings that work is important in heaven and on earth. J
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