• Good morning. It is an honor to stand before you this day, and it is an honor to teach at this great university. I have long pondered the message I would share today, and I have looked forward to this day with apprehension—praying that I will say those things that will be of most benefit to you. This opportunity to speak to you has been overwhelming and humbling, to say the least, and I have taken courage from the words of King David to his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:20: Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with t
  • It is always an exciting and satisfying opportunity to greet you at the beginning of a new semester. In my long experience of school beginnings, I have concluded that while all are positive in the sense that there has been yet little time for anything serious to go wrong, each new term is different in some ways from any other. This fall at BYU, for example, we have fewer first-year young men and fewer second-year young women as a result of the change in missionary ages announced by President Thomas S. Monson last October. I don’t know what next year will bring, but in two years we will have mo
  • President Samuelson, members of the board of trustees, administrators, faculty, guests, and especially graduates, we’ve made it! We’re graduating from Brigham Young University, and today we are here to celebrate our success. In fact, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my time at BYU is to view success differently. I’ve learned that life demands high effort from everyone all the time but does so in two general forms, either of which can result in success. The first form I’m going to call “climbing.” This describes times in life in which one must devote high effort to develo
  • Good morning, beloved students, faculty, friends, family, and my esteemed brother in the gospel for over 35 years, President Cecil O. Samuelson. I have always treasured our close and respectful relationship, and I say to you, President Samuelson, that Brigham Young could not have selected a better leader than you, who has reached great heights in medicine, in life, and, above all, in integrity. Thank you for such a generous introduction, and thank you to the beautiful choir from whom we have just heard. I am so privileged to be invited to this world-class university. My wife, Karen, and I than
  • I am immensely grateful for this totally unexpected, extraordinary honor bestowed by Brigham Young University, the executive committee of the board of trustees, and the board and its officers, the First Presidency. I am in awe at the conferral of an honor so immensely significant and so profoundly appreciated. It is one thing to earn a degree through individual effort. For me it is far more significant that the constituted authorities determine that you qualify to receive one. I am at a total loss to find adequate words to convey the depth of my feelings of gratitude. I will ever strive to liv
  • In his much-quoted talk on dating versus hanging out, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: A message given by a General Authority at a general conference . . . is given to be heard under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, with the intended result that the listener learns from the talk and from the Spirit what he or she should do about it. [“The Dedication of a Lifetime,” CES fireside for young adults, Oakland, California, 1 May 2005; emphasis in original] No one is more aware than your speaker today that you are not, in this gathering, listening to a General Authority at a gene
  • No one with any degree of spiritual sensitivity can stand at this place in the presence of such a concentration of devoted, righteous students, faculty, staff, and Church leaders and not feel overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation. I am deeply moved in contemplation of what will occur in ensuing years from the experiences you will gain at this unique university. The students enrolled in this university have the potential for making deep and abiding contributions throughout the world, to form eternal families, to orient and raise righteous children, to strengthen a host of professions, to
  • Eighteen days ago our daughter-in-law Sharon gave birth to twin boys, James and John. As you can imagine, there was much rejoicing the morning they were born. Excited and loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends all lined up in front of the hospital nursery window, marveling at the beautiful little faces and perfect little bodies. “Are they identical?” we all asked. The preliminary tests were inconclusive, which of course only made us more curious. We stared at them, placed side by side, and compared them from their ears down to their toes. Was one lighter, darker, fatter, thinner, s
  • The last time I spoke on the same program with our son Michael was at his missionary farewell. And I was equally proud that day as I am today. But he has not always been so wise. He has grown in wisdom and judgment. After such a serious talk, I cannot help but tell a story on him. Shortly before Michael went on his mission, his brother-in-law Tom Jacobson made him an offer. If Michael would let Tom break three raw eggs on Michael’s head, Tom would give him twenty dollars. It sounded like a good deal. The degradation would last only a short time, could be removed by putting his clothes throu
  • Patricia T. Holland Just before commencement exercises last spring, my husband received a letter from a student which read something like this: Dear President Holland: I am completing my undergraduate experience at BYU this month and will be graduating in our upcoming commencement service. My parents are relieved, my professors are surprised, and I am holding my breath. Things could go wrong, you know, even at this late date. And that brings my one grievance with you. It is this late date business. My dates have been so late that most of them never sh
  • I'm glad to be welcome. Facing a group like this, I wouldn't want to be unwelcome. This is a marvelous sight, to see all of you here and feel your heartbeat. I like to think it's yours—perhaps it is mine that's beating so rapidly. As I consider the position you are in as you start another school year, I have a lot of empathy for you—from both sides of the fence, so to speak. I spent thirteen years, as you have already heard, trying to get out of school and then found myself back in school right here at this institution, for which I am grateful. Brigham Young University has a great impact in
  • My dear brothers and sisters: Last week at this same hour we heard a message from the prophet of God. President Spencer W. Kimball gave us a message of love and admonition and challenge: he expressed his love for each of us, he admonished us to behave with integrity toward our commitments and to do what we know to be right, and he challenged us “to equip [ourselves] to be honorable, productive citizens of the Kingdom” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Integrity: The Spirit of BYU,” in Speeches of the Year, 1979 [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1980], p. 163). In this annual Preside
  • You each come to this University because you want, in one way or another, to be a success. Of course, to different people the term success means different things. Some of us look for success in acquiring money; some of us seek it in the attention that comes from fame and renown; some of us view the gaining of knowledge as one of the most important forms of success; some of us find success in being happy in our work and in our family life. For some of you, the most important success right now may seem to be the attention of a particular young lady or young man, or perhaps the attention o
  • President Oaks, members of the faculty, my beloved and choice young friends: I am grateful for the presence of the most important person in my life. I know that it’s not appropriate to brag about your relatives, but I’m not related to her; I’m just married to her. I have a desire this morning to be objective in what I say to you, and I think, in my desire to be objective, I also have a concern that I might not be invited back again to speak to you. I have not been privileged to attend this great institution, which memorializes the name of Brigham Young, but my interest in and concern for th
  • President Oaks, President Wilkinson, members of the faculty, brothers and sisters: I appreciate the invitation to come and speak to you this morning. The last time I spoke to a devotional assembly at BYU was over fifty years ago, when I was a student. I remember T. Earl Pardoe was my public speaking instructor, and he called us all together and gave us thirty minutes to prepare our talks. I froze; I couldn’t say a word when I got up to speak. That was my last experience here. I won’t freeze this morning, but I do feel extremely humble in this new calling that I have. I’m not quite used t
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