To Do and To Be

Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Aug. 13, 2015 • Commencement
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Thank you, Elder Oaks, for your very important address. My wife, Wendy, had planned to be with us today. Unfortunately, she sprained her ankle and is propped up at home watching these proceedings on TV. She was on the faculty here for thirteen years. We love BYU. She joins me in extending our heartfelt congratulations to all graduates and their families. We are especially grateful for the excellent messages given by three of the leading lights of this dispensation: President Kevin J Worthen, Dr. Donald B. Doty, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

President Worthen stands tall in his position as the thirteenth president of the university. He excelled in his chosen field of law and once served as dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and as advancement vice president at BYU. In the Church he serves as an Area Seventy. We trust him. His peers look up to him. His students emulate him.

Dr. Donald B. Doty is regarded across the globe as the premiere teacher of cardiac surgery. His textbooks are used by specialists throughout the world. You will want to read every word of his amazing biographical summary in your commencement program. While excelling in his profession, he has served in the Church as bishop, stake president, regional representative, and Area Seventy. Later we called upon him to direct the medical affairs of the Missionary Department, which he did as a volunteer for nine years. We are most grateful for his and Cheryl’s building a network of help for our missionaries that will endure for years. We love them and salute them today, particularly Brother Doty as he gets his honorary degree. No one could be more deserving.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks and I were called to the Quorum of the Twelve in April 1984. It has been my rare privilege to sit beside him in our quorum meetings for more than thirty-one years. You know of Elder Oaks’ past service as the eighth president of BYU and as a justice of the supreme court of the state of Utah. Today you heard him talk about your need to take heart. He also asked you to consider what God wants you to be: to be joyful, to be creative, and to develop a love of God that will bring you a fulness of joy.

Now, let me share a thought for you graduates. You are entering a new phase of life. To this point you have been striving to meet expectations imposed upon you by other people. You have passed exams and may have to pass others in order to become certified. You have been jumping over high hurdles established by others. In order to prepare for what you want to do in life, this is good. But with this transition in the pursuit of your formal education, you need to continue to focus on becoming the person the Lord needs you to be. Strive to develop the spiritual attributes of faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence.

These attributes are difficult to measure, but they constitute the substance of what the Lord hopes for each of you. Remember His counsel posed to us as a question: “What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27).

Each day we can become more like Him, regardless of our chosen field of occupational endeavor. That is the lesson I would like you to learn from leaders like President Worthen, Dr. Doty, and Elder Oaks. With each passing day they have worked hard to become more like the Lord. You, too, can do as they have done. You, too, can leave a legacy of faith in your families to bless generations yet unborn.

Now, with the apostolic authority vested in Elder Oaks and me, we would like to bless you with joy, health, and wisdom to sustain you throughout your lifetime of opportunity, with success in your educational and occupational pursuits and within your families. We bless you in your Church service to participate joyfully in building up the kingdom of God upon the earth. We so bless you, with our expression of heartfelt love and gratitude for each one of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Russell M. Nelson was president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this commencement address was given on 13 August 2015.

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