Appropriate Zeal & Gratitude | Cecil O. and Sharon G. Samuelson

Appropriate Zeal & Gratitude | Cecil O. and Sharon G. Samuelson


WE ARE BLESSED TO HEAR FROM
PRESIDENT AND SISTER SAMUELSON. SISTER SAMUELSON IS ORIGINALLY
FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH. FOLLOWING HER GRADUATION IN
HISTORY EDUCATION FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, SHE TAUGHT
SCHOOL TO HELP SUPPORT HER HUSBAND THROUGH HIS EARLY YEARS
OF MEDICAL SCHOOL. FOR MOST OF THEIR MARRIED LIFE,
SHE HAS BEEN A FULL-TIME HOMEMAKER AND MOTHER TO THEIR
FIVE CHILDREN. SHE HAS BEEN ACTIVE IN THE
COMMUNITY AND HAS SERVED IN DIFFERENT CAPACITIES IN ALL OF
THE AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS OF THE CHURCH. SHE AND PRESIDENT SAMUELSON HAVE
12 GRANDCHILDREN. SISTER SAMUELSON IS ALSO A
SPORTS ENTHUSIAST AND CAN ALWAYS BE COUNTED ON TO KNOW THE SCORE
AND STATISTICS OF BYU SPORTING EVENTS. PRESIDENT SAMUELSON COMPLETED
MEDICAL SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH AND DUKE UNIVERSITY. HE SERVED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
UTAH AS A PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE,
AND VICE PRESIDENT OF HEALTH SERVICES. IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO HIS CALL TO
THE QUORUM OF THE SEVENTY IN 1994, HE WAS SENIOR VICE
PRESIDENT WITH INTERMOUNTAIN HEALTH CARE. PRESIDENT SAMUELSON HAS SERVED
AS PRESIDENT OF TWO AREAS OF THE CHURCH, AND JUST PRIOR TO HIS
ASSIGNMENT AS 12TH PRESIDENT OF BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY IN
2003, HE WAS SERVING IN THE PRESIDENCY OF THE SEVENTY. IT HAS BEEN MY PERSONAL
PRIVILEGE TO HAVE WORKED CLOSELY WITH PRESIDENT AND SISTER
SAMUELSON SINCE THEY CAME TO BYU. THEY LOVE THE YOUNG ADULTS OF
THE CHURCH AND THEY LOVE BYU. WE ARE BLESSED TO HAVE THEM
LEADING THIS GREAT UNIVERSITY H AND NOW WE’LL HAVE THE
OPPORTUNITY OF HEARING FROM PRESIDENT AND SISTER SAMUELSON.>>SHARON SAMUELSON: YOU ARE AN
AWESOME SIGHT. I LOVE IT. I LOVE IT WHEN YOU’RE HERE ALL
TOGETHER. IT HAS BEEN MY HONOR AND
PRIVILEGE TO GREET SEVERAL THOUSANDS OF SCHOLARS SUCH AS
YOU WHO HAVE COME TO PURSUE AN EDUCATION AT BRIGHAM YOUNG
UNIVERSITY. I LOVE THE EXCITEMENT AND ENERGY
YOU BRING TO CAMPUS WHEN YOU ARE HERE. SO, WHETHER YOU ARE A RETURNING
BYU STUDENT, ONE WHO IS TRANSFERRING FROM ANOTHER
INSTITUTION, OR A NEW STUDENT WHO IS BEGINNING YOUR EXPERIENCE
HERE, WELCOME TO FALL SEMESTER 2010. I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE
OPPORTUNITY I HAVE TO ASSOCIATE WITH YOU DURING YOUR DAYS ON
THIS CAMPUS AND EXPRESS THIS GRATITUDE OFTEN TO MY HEAVENLY
FATHER. MAYBE SOME OF YOU CAN RECALL
YOUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS AND YOUR RETURN FROM SUMMER
VACATION. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, IT SEEMS,
ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL WE WERE GIVEN AN ASSIGNMENT TO
WRITE ABOUT OR DRAW A PICTURE OF SOMETHING WE DID THAT SUMMER. WE WOULD THEN HAVE THE
OPPORTUNITY TO TELL OUR FELLOW CLASSMATES ABOUT OUR SUMMER
VACATION. I HAVE NOT HAD TO COMPLETE SUCH
AN ASSIGNMENT FOR MANY YEARS AND I DOUBT YOU DID EITHER ON YOUR
FIRST DAY OF CLASSES LAST WEEK. FOR SEVERAL DIFFERENT REASONS,
HOWEVER, THIS SUMMER HAS BEEN ONE WHERE I HAVE BEEN PROMPTED
TO REFLECT OFTEN ON MY GRATITUDE TO MY HEAVENLY FATHER FOR THAT
WHICH I HAVE BEEN GIVEN. IF I WERE TO WRITE A PARAGRAPH
ON MY SUMMER EXPERIENCES, IT WOULD EXPRESS THIS. IT WAS A SUMMER THAT INCLUDED
DEATHS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS AS WELL AS JOYS, SUCCESSES AND MANY
BLESSINGS. I HAD, AS I DO EACH DAY, MANY
REMINDERS OF THE LOVE THE LORD HAS FOR ALL OF US. IN THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS WE
ARE TOLD THAT “YE MUST GIVE THANKS UNTO GOD IN THE SPIRIT
FOR WHATSOEVER BLESSINGS YE ARE BLESSED WITH.” IN FACT, THE LORD HAS SAID, “AND
IN NOTHING DOTH MAN OFFEND GOD, OR AGAINST NONE IS HIS WRATH
KINDLED, SAVE THOSE WHO CONFESS NOT HIS HAND IN ALL THINGS, AND
OBEY NOT HIS COMMANDMENTS.” ONCE WE REALIZE AND UNDERSTAND
THAT WE CAN KINDLE GOD’S WRATH BY NEGLECTING TO EXPRESS TO HIM
CONSTANTLY OUR APPRECIATION AND THANKFULNESS FOR HIS GIFTS TO
US, WE HOPEFULLY WILL ALWAYS ACKNOWLEDGE THE SOURCE OF ALL
OUR BLESSINGS. IN FACT, INGRATITUDE IS A
DISTRESSING SIN IN THE EYES OF THE LORD. WE ALL ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE
PARABLE OF THE 10 MEN WHO WERE LEPERS. LEPROSY WAS A LOATHSOME DISEASE
WHERE THOSE SUFFERING FROM IT WERE ISOLATED AND CALLED
UNCLEAN. EACH OF US CAN IMAGINE THE
HORRIBLE LIFE LED BY ITS SUFFERERS. AS JESUS ENTERED INTO A CERTAIN
VILLAGE, THERE WERE 10 LEPERS WHO WERE NOT PERMITTED TO
APPROACH HIM AND STOOD AWAY FROM HIM. HOWEVER, THEIR PLEADING VOICES
MUST HAVE TOUCHED THE HEART OF THE SAVIOR. WE READ, “AND WHEN HE SAW THEM,
HE SAID UNTO THEM, GO SHEW YOURSELVES UNTO THE PRIESTS. AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT, AS
THEY WENT, THEY WERE CLEANSED. AND ONE OF THEM, WHEN HE SAW
THAT HE WAS HEALED, TURNED BACK, AND WITH A LOUD VOICE GLORIFIED
FR GOD, AND FELL DOWN ON HIS FACE
AT HIS FEET, GIVING HIM THANKS: AND HE WAS A SAMARITAN. AND JESUS ANSWERING SAID, WERE
THERE NOT 10 CLEANSED? BUT WHERE ARE THE NINE? THERE ARE NOT FOUND THAT
RETURNED TO GIVE GLORY TO GOD, SAVE THIS STRANGER. AND HE SAID UNTO HIM, ARISE, GO
THY WAY: THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE.” ONE CANNOT HELP BUT WONDER WHY
THE OTHER NINE DID NOT RETURN TO THANK THEIR MASTER. ONCE CURED FROM THIS DEVASTATING
DISEASE, THEY WERE CLEAN AND ACCEPTABLE TO ENTER SOCIETY ONCE
AGAIN AND THEY COULD ALSO BE WITH THEIR LOVED ONES. THEIR HAPPINESS MUST HAVE BEEN
OVERWHELMING AND THEY MUST HAVE BEEN FILLED WITH AMAZEMENT. THEN WHY DID THEY NOT RETURN TO
EXPRESS THEIR THANKFULNESS? WERE THEY SO CAUGHT UP WITH SUCH
JOY AT THEIR MIRACULOUS RECOVERY THAT THEY THOUGHT ONLY OF
THEMSELVES AND NOT THE SOURCE OF THEIR HEALING? DID THEY THINK THE PRIESTS WERE
THE ONES WHO CURED THEM? IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE THEIR
INGRATITUDE TO THE LORD. WE READ THAT THE THANKFUL LEPER
WAS TOLD THAT HIS FAITH HAD MADE HIM WHOLE. WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO
THE OTHER NINE. COULD IT BE POSSIBLE THEIR
FUTURE LIVES WERE NOT FULL AND IN THE DAYS THAT FOLLOWED THEY
DID NOT RECEIVE SUCH BLESSINGS AS DID THE THANKFUL LEPER? WE DO KNOW THAT THEIR
INGRATITUDE WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT TO JESUS. I WOULD NOT WANT TO BELONG TO
THAT PARTY OF NINE. WOULD YOU? I THINK, HOWEVER, THAT SOMETIMES
OUR BEHAVIOR IS SIMILAR. WE SEE IN THE WORLD OF TODAY
THAT MANY OF US TAKE FOR GRANTED WHAT WE HAVE. OUR LIVES ARE OFTEN FILLED WITH
SO MANY ACTIVITIES, PULLING US IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS FROM
DAWN TO DUSK, THAT WE MAY FORGET TO “COUNT OUR MANY BLESSINGS”
AND TO BE THANKFUL FOR EACH ONE. DO WE FIND OURSELVES EXPRESSING
OUR THANKS FOR THE OBVIOUS BLESSINGS IN OUR LIVES SUCH AS
FAMILY, HOME, GOSPEL, EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND SO
FORTH, AND THEN NEGLECTING WHAT ONE MIGHT CONSIDER THE “LITTLE
BLESSINGS?” I ASKED THREE OF MY
GRANDCHILDREN WHAT THEY WERE THANKFUL FOR AND RECEIVED THE
USUAL EXPECTED RESPONSES SUCH AS MOM, DAD, COUSINS AND SO FORTH. THEIR EXPRESSIONS TO ME ALSO
INCLUDED THEIR THANKFULNESS FOR: A WALK WITH CHARLIE, THE
NEIGHBOR’S DOG; TOBY, A GOLDFISH; AND MILO, A FRIEND. CHILDREN ARE EXCITED ABOUT LIFE
AND SEE AND APPRECIATE MANY THINGS OF GREAT VALUE THAT
GROWNUPS SOMETIMES OVERLOOK. WE CAN LEARN MUCH FROM
YOUNGSTERS ABOUT FINDING JOY AND GRATITUDE IN LIFE’S SMALL
BLESSINGS. HOW OFTEN DO WE DWELL ON AND
WORRY ABOUT THE THINGS WE DON’T HAVE? “THERE IS A STORY OF A PERSON
WHO NOTICED THAT HIS FRIEND WAS ALWAYS HAPPY. IF THERE WERE GRAY SKIES, HE
CELEBRATED THE SHAPES OF THE CLOUDS; IF IT STORMED, HE WENT
OUT ON THE FRONT PORCH TO WATCH AND WONDER. AT EACH DAY, HE AWAKENED NOT
WITH ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION BUT WITH REJOICING. FINALLY, THE ONE FRIEND ASKED
THE OTHER, ‘WHAT IS THE SECRET OF YOUR HAPPINESS? YOU ARE NOT A WEALTHY MAN. YOU ARE NOT EXEMPT FROM THE
HEAVINESS AND PAIN OF THIS WORLD, YET YOU ARE HAPPIER THAN
MOST.’ AND THE HAPPY MAN, ANSWERED IN
ONE WORD: ‘GRATITUDE.'” THIS IS A LESSON FOR ALL OF US,
TO BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE HAVE IN LIFE. GRATITUDE IS A VIRTUE AS WELL AS
A COMMANDMENT. WE SHOULD EACH HAVE A THANKFUL
HEART AND ACKNOWLEDGE OUR BOUNTEOUS GIFTS CONTINUOUSLY. ONE OF MY FAVORITE DEFINITIONS
OF HAPPINESS IS NOT HAVING WHAT YOU LIKE, BUT LIKING WHAT YOU
HAVE. MANY HOURS MAY BE WASTED IN
THINKING ABOUT WHAT ONE MAY NOT HAVE RATHER THAN WHAT ONE DOES. GRATITUDE AND HAPPINESS SEEM TO
BE LINKED TOGETHER IN OUR LIVES. GRATITUDE ENABLES US TO HAVE
PEACE AND HAPPINESS. THERE IS A BOOK THAT I HAVE
ALWAYS REMEMBERED SINCE I FIRST READ IT MANY YEARS AGO. I FEEL IT ILLUSTRATES THE
SCRIPTURE FOUND IN I THESSALONIANS 5:18 WHICH READS,
“IN EVERY THING GIVE THANKS.” MANY OF YOU MAY BE ACQUAINTED
WITH CORRIE TEN BOOM’S BOOK ENTITLED “THE HIDING PLACE.” IT IS THE TRUE STORY OF TWO
DUTCH WOMEN WHO WERE IMPRISONED DURING WORLD WAR II FOR
HARBORING JEWISH REFUGEES. ITS MESSAGE BEARS REMINDING. CORRIE AND BETSIE TEN BOOM LIVED
BY THE PRECEPTS OF CHRIST AND FOUND GREAT COMFORT IN READING
THE BIBLE. THEIR PRISON BARRACKS WERE DIMLY
LIT, DIRTY, FOUL-SMELLING, CROWDED AND CONSTANTLY PATROLLED
BY GUARDS. CORRIE WAS PUT INTO A CELL WITH
HER SISTER WHICH WAS A BLESSING FOR THEM BOTH. HER CONSTANT WORRY WAS THAT THE
GUARDS WOULD SEE THEIR BIBLE AND TAKE IT AWAY SINCE IT WAS A
GREAT SOURCE OF HOPE AND COMFORT TO THEM. THE PLACE WAS SO INFESTED WITH
FLEAS THAT THE SISTERS COULD NOT MOVE WITHOUT BEING COVERED WITH
THE BUGS. THEY WERE VERY FAMILIAR WITH
SCRIPTURES CONCERNING GRATITUDE AND THANKFULNESS IN THE BIBLE. BETSIE TOLD CORRIE THAT THEY
SHOULD THANK GOD FOR THE FLEAS. CORRIE WASN’T SURE SHE COULD DO
THIS, BUT SHE AND BETSIE BOWED THEIR HEADS AND THANKED GOD EVEN
FOR THE FLEAS. WEEKS LATER CORRIE WAS STRUCK BY
THE BLESSING THAT CAME FROM HER OBEDIENCE TO THANK GOD IN ALL
CIRCUMSTANCES. BETSIE HAD HEARD A SUPERVISOR
SAY SHE WOULDN’T STEP THROUGH THE DOOR OF THEIR CELL BECAUSE
OF ALL THE FLEAS AND NEITHER WOULD THE GUARDS. IT WAS BECAUSE OF THE FLEAS THAT
THEY WERE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO KEEP THEIR BIBLE WITHOUT THE
GUARDS FINDING IT. THEY WERE ALSO ABLE TO HOLD
WORSHIP MEETINGS AND SHARE CHRIST’S MESSAGE WITH OTHER
PRISONERS. GOD ASKS US TO GIVE THANKS EVEN
WHEN THERE MAY SEEM TO BE LITTLE FOR WHICH TO BE THANKFUL. THE TEN BOOM SISTERS FULLY
UNDERSTOOD THIS ADMONITION. WHEN REFLECTING ON WHAT OUR
EXPRESSIONS OF GRATITUDE SHOULD INCLUDE, WE MIGHT REFER TO
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, SECTION 46, WHERE WE ARE TOLD THAT THE
LORD GIVES UNTO EVERY MAN A GIFT BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD AND THAT IT
COMES FOR OUR BENEFIT. GIFTS SUCH AS LISTENING, SEEKING
THAT WHICH IS RIGHTEOUS, CARING FOR OTHERS, AND BEARING A MIGHTY
TESTIMONY ARE MENTIONED ALONG WITH OTHERS. EACH OF YOU HAS BEEN BLESSED
WITH SUCH GIFTS AND TALENTS. I SEE THIS EVERY DAY WHEN I AM
IN YOUR MIDST. YOU ARE BRIGHT AND TALENTED AND
YOUR FUTURES ARE FILLED WITH PROMISE AS YOU MAGNIFY AND
ACKNOWLEDGE THE INDIVIDUAL GIFTS AND TALENTS WITH WHICH YOU HAVE
BEEN BLESSED. SINCE WE DO NOT HAVE TIME TO
DISCUSS THIS SECTION FULLY AT THIS TIME, I WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU
TO TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO STUDY IT AS WELL AS OTHER WRITINGS
RELATING TO CHRIST’S MINISTRY IN THE NEW WORLD WHERE YOU CAN GAIN
FURTHER KNOWLEDGE AND INSIGHT. I WOULD IMAGINE THAT EACH OF YOU
HAS AT TIMES ASKED THE QUESTION: “WHAT IS MY GIFT OR TALENT?” OR
MAYBE THOUGHT, “I DON’T HAVE ANY.” THE LORD, HOWEVER, HAS SAID THAT
YOU DO. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO
RECOGNIZE, DEVELOP AND SHARE YOUR GIFTS AND TALENTS SO YOU
CAN MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. EACH OF YOU HAS BEEN ENDOWED
WITH DIFFERENT GIFTS AND WHAT IS GIVEN TO ONE MAY NOT BE GIVEN TO
ANOTHER. SEEKING AFTER AND DEVELOPING
THEM IS EXPECTED OF YOU BY HE WHO GAVE THEM TO YOU. RELIANCE ON THE SPIRIT CAN HELP
YOU DISCOVER YOUR INNATE CAPABILITIES. YOU MUST ALSO REMEMBER NOT TO
COMPETE WITH OR IMITATE OTHERS. AVOID COMPARISONS. VALUE AND BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR
OWN UNIQUENESS. CONSTANTLY COMPARING YOURSELF TO
OTHERS AND USING THEM TO MEASURE YOUR SELF-WORTH IS DESTRUCTIVE. IF YOU FIND AN AREA WHERE YOU
MAY FEEL YOU EXCEL, THAT IS NOT POSITIVE IF IT CAUSES YOU TO
DEVELOP A FEELING OF SUPERIORITY OR SMUGNESS. IF YOU FIND AN AREA WHERE YOU
FEEL YOU FALL SHORT, THAT IS NEGATIVE AND CAN MAKE YOU FEEL
HOPELESSLY INFERIOR. ALL OF YOU ARE SONS AND
DAUGHTERS OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. HE LOVES YOU AND HAS GIVEN YOU
MANY BLESSINGS TO HELP YOU BUILD A TESTIMONY OF HIM AND HIS
TEACHINGS. FIND YOUR GIFTS AND TALENTS,
ACKNOWLEDGE THEM IN THE SPIRIT OF THANKFULNESS, DEVELOP THEM,
AND USE THEM TO SERVE OTHERS AS WELL AS HIS KINGDOM. EACH OF US SHOWS OUR GRATITUDE
BY THE WAY WE LIVE AND OUR WILLINGNESS TO SERVE THE LORD
AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. GRATITUDE IS A COMMANDMENT WITH
A PROMISE AS IS TAUGHT IN DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 78:19:
“AND HE WHO RECEIVETH ALL THINGS WITH THANKFULNESS SHALL BE MADE
GLORIOUS; AND THE THINGS OF THIS EARTH SHALL BE ADDED UNTO HIM,
EVEN AN HUNDRED FOLD, YEA, MORE.” MAY WE ALL HAVE A GRATEFUL
HEART, COUNT OUR MANY BLESSINGS, AND USE OUR GIFTS AND TALENTS TO
SERVE HIM WOULD BE MY PRAYER IN THE NAME JESUS CHRIST, AMEN.>>PRESIDENT CECIL O. SAMUELSON:
AS IS ALWAYS THE CASE AT THIS WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR, I HAVE
THE GREAT PRIVILEGE AND PLEASURE OF WELCOMING YOU TO A NEW
SEMESTER AT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY. I HOPE AND TRUST YOU HAVE HAD
PRODUCTIVE SUMMER MONTHS AND NOW BEGIN THIS ACADEMIC YEAR FULL OF
ENTHUSIASM, OPTIMISM, ENERGY AND COMMITMENT TO AND FOR THE
OPPORTUNITIES AND TASKS AHEAD. I ANTICIPATE YOU ARE EXCITED TO
BE HERE BECAUSE THERE IS MUCH ABOUT WHICH TO BE ENERGIZED AND
ENCOURAGED THIS FALL TERM AT BYU. MORE THAN EVER BEFORE, THERE ARE
MANY WHO WOULD LOVE TO BE IN YOUR POSITIONS WHO ARE NOT ABLE
TO BE SO. FOR SOME MONTHS, I HAVE BEEN
PONDERING ABOUT MY MESSAGE TO YOU TODAY. IN THE YEARS THAT WE HAVE
OCCUPIED THESE POSITIONS, SISTER SAMUELSON AND I HAVE HAD THE
HIGH HONOR OF ADDRESSING THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY IN DEVOTIONALS
TWICE A YEAR. WHILE WE STAND BEFORE YOU IN
THIS SETTING TYPICALLY AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH FALL AND
WINTER SEMESTER, WE TEND TO THINK AND PRAY ABOUT WHAT WE
SHOULD DISCUSS WITH YOU ALMOST CONSTANTLY. AND, IT IS NOT RARE THAT SOMEONE
MIGHT FEEL IMPRESSED TO OFFER COUNSEL AS TO WHAT WE MIGHT SAY
NEXT OR WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE SAID TODAY OR LAST WINTER. IN ALL CANDOR, WE NEED ALL THE
HELP WE CAN GET, BUT WE GIVE HIGHEST PRIORITY TO SEEKING THE
GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY GHOST IN WHAT WE CONSIDER IN THESE
PRECIOUS MOMENTS WE HAVE WITH YOU. LAST SPRING, IN THE CONTEXT OF A
NUMBER OF OPPORTUNITIES, CONCERNS AND ISSUES WE WERE
FACING HERE AT BYU, I READ, AS I HAVE MANY TIMES OVER THE YEARS,
OF A BOOK OF MORMON PERSONALITY WHO HAS SEEMED LARGELY A
PERIPHERAL FIGURE. AT LEAST TO ME. I SPEAK OF THE NEPHITE, ZENIFF. AS I TRY TO “LIKEN ALL
SCRIPTURES” UNTO MYSELF AS WE ARE COUNSELED BY NEPHI, I
PERCEIVED PERHAPS FOR THE FIRST TIME SOME INTERESTING PARALLELS
OR CHARACTER TRAITS THAT I ALSO OBSERVE IN OUR COMMUNITY AND
EVEN IN MYSELF FROM TIME TO TIME. THE APPLICATIONS ARE MANY AND I
WILL HAVE TIME FOR ONLY A FEW THAT SEEM PARTICULARLY PERTINENT
ON THIS OCCASION. WHILE I WILL LEAVE THE DETAILED
STUDY OF ZENIFF, HIS TIMES AND CIRCUMSTANCES TO YOU, I NEED TO
SUMMARIZE BRIEFLY IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FURTHER CONTEXT TO WHAT
I FEEL TO COMMENT ABOUT TODAY. YOU WILL RECALL THAT ZENIFF’S
SON, KING NOAH, AND HIS GRANDSON, KING LIMHI, WERE BOTH
MORE PROMINENT IN BOOK OF MORMON HISTORY THAN WAS HE. ZENIFF LIVED ROUGHLY 400 YEARS
AFTER FATHER LEHI AND HIS PEOPLE ARRIVED IN THE PROMISED LAND. BECAUSE OF THE WARS AND
STRUGGLES BETWEEN THE NEPHITES AND THE LAMANITES, THE NEPHITES
HAD BEEN DRIVEN FROM THEIR FIRST ANCESTRAL LANDS IN THE NEW WORLD
AND WERE PRIMARILY LOCATED IN A PLACE CALLED ZARAHEMLA. ZENIFF HAD BEEN A PARTICIPANT
WITH A GROUP OF NEPHITES WHO WERE COMMITTED TO TAKING BACK OR
RE-ESTABLISHING THE NEPHITE NATION IN THEIR INITIAL PLACE OF
RESIDENCE. NOT EVERYONE SHARED HIS POLITICS
OR HIS PRIORITIES AND, IN FACT, THIS ISSUE LED TO CONSIDERABLE
CONFLICT AND CARNAGE AMONG THE NEPHITES THEMSELVES. NOW TO THE CENTRAL POINT OF THIS
ACCOUNT. AFTER DESCRIBING THE HORRIBLE
CONTENTION AND BLOODSHED THESE DISAGREEMENTS ENGENDERED, ZENIFF
SAID, “I BEING OVER-ZEALOUS TO INHERIT THE LAND OF OUR FATHERS,
COLLECTED AS MANY AS WERE DESIROUS TO GO UP TO POSSESS THE
LAND, AND STARTED AGAIN ON OUR JOURNEY INTO THE WILDERNESS TO
GO UP TO THE LAND; BUT WE WERE SMITTEN WITH FAMINE AND SORE
AFFLICTIONS; FOR WE WERE SLOW TO REMEMBER THE LORD OUR GOD.” TO MY KNOWLEDGE, THERE IS ONLY
ONE OTHER PLACE IN THE SCRIPTURES WHERE THE HYPHENATED
TERM OVER-ZEALOUS IS FOUND. THIS IS WHERE THE BOOK OF MORMON
EDITOR IS DESCRIBING THE MAN ZENIFF AND COMMENTS THAT BECAUSE
HE WAS OVER-ZEALOUS, HE ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE DECEIVED BY WICKED
KING LAMAN WHICH LED TO THE CAPTIVITY, SUFFERING AND
DISADVANTAGE OF THE GROUP OF PEOPLE HE LED. EARLIER IN THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE
BOOK OF MORMON, ZENIFF IS ALSO DESCRIBED AS “A STRONG AND
MIGHTY MAN, AND A STIFFNECKED MAN.” IT APPARENTLY WAS NOT
NECESSARILY SO THAT ZENIFF WAS INHERENTLY WICKED OR
INTENTIONALLY UNWISE BUT HE WAS OVER-ZEALOUS. IT IS ALSO CLEAR THAT HIS
MISPLACED ZEAL LED TO OTHER POOR DECISIONS WHICH NOT ONLY
AFFECTED HIM PERSONALLY IN ADVERSE WAYS, BUT ALSO CAUSED
TREMENDOUS DIFFICULTIES FOR OTHERS UNDER HIS INFLUENCE. IT DIDN’T HELP THAT HE WAS ALSO
STIFF-NECKED WHICH MEANS THAT HE WAS HAUGHTY AND STUBBORN TOO. CAN YOU SEE ANY POTENTIAL
DANGERS IN A MAN WHO IS STRONG, FORCEFUL, PASSIONATE,
ENTHUSIASTIC, STUBBORN, FULL OF HIMSELF AND OVER-ZEALOUS, TOO? I KNOW THAT ALL OF YOU CAN
PERCEIVE THESE INTERESTING TRAITS OR CHARACTER FLAWS IN
OTHERS, BUT DO THEY EVER CREEP INTO YOUR OWN PERSONA AS WELL? I HOPE THAT IS SOMETHING WE ALL
TRY TO CONSIDER AT LEAST A LITTLE, AND CORRECT IF
NECESSARY, ON A REGULAR BASIS. NOW LET ME BE CLEAR. WE ARE IN FAVOR OF CORRECTLY
FOCUSED ZEAL. WE ADMIRE COURAGEOUS LEADERS AND
THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO SACRIFICE OR STAND FOR WHAT THEY
KNOW IS RIGHT. THE SCRIPTURES ARE REPLETE WITH
REFERENCES TO ZEAL AND THE WORD IS OFTEN ATTACHED TO DEITY. WITHOUT ZEAL AND OTHER
ASSOCIATED VIRTUES IN COURAGEOUS LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS OF
PREVIOUS DAYS, WE WOULD NOT HAVE THIS NATION OR THIS UNIVERSITY,
THE GOSPEL WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RESTORED AND MANY OTHER EVENTS
OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. LIKEWISE, WE ABHOR SLOTHFUL
BEHAVIOR AND THINKING WHICH ARE ANTITHETICAL TO RIGHTEOUS AND
APPROPRIATE ZEAL. THE BOOK OF MORMON PROPHET JACOB
DESCRIBED THE FAILINGS OF THOSE HE KNEW ABOUT WHO MISSED “THE
MARK” OR APPROPRIATE TARGET OF CONCERN. THUS, WE MUST BE CAREFUL THAT WE
DO NOT OVER-DO OR UNDER-DO ANY OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS THAT
DEMAND AND DESERVE OUR ATTENTION. WHILE THERE ARE MANY
APPLICATIONS OF THESE PRINCIPLES THAT WE MIGHT PROFITABLY
ADDRESS, I WILL MENTION ONLY A FEW THAT HAVE FAIRLY WIDE
APPLICABILITY IN OUR CAMPUS COMMUNITY AND BEYOND. YOU WILL THINK OF ADDITIONAL
THEMES AND EXAMPLES AND I SUGGEST YOU TAILOR A LIST THAT
BEST MEETS YOUR OWN CONCERNS, POTENTIAL WEAKNESSES OR
STRENGTHS, AND MOST IMPORTANT PRIORITIES. BECAUSE OF THE SEASON, I THINK
OF TWO AREAS WHERE EXAMPLES OF THE EXTREME ARE QUITE PREVALENT. I SPEAK, OF COURSE, OF POLITICS
AND SPORTS. IN THE POLITICAL ARENA, WE ARE
IN AN ELECTION YEAR AND EMOTIONS ARE ALREADY BEGINNING TO BE
EVIDENT WITH STRONG OPINIONS, ADVOCACY AND CRITICISM RAMPANT
AMONG US. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO BECOME
INFORMED, TO REGISTER TO VOTE IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE AND HAVE NOT
DONE SO, AND TO VOTE YOUR EDUCATED CONSCIENCE ON ELECTION
DAY. PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS AS
YOUR TIME AND INCLINATIONS ALLOW, BUT PLEASE BE SURE TO BE
CONSIDERATE OF OTHER OPINIONS, PEOPLE AND PERSPECTIVES. PLEASE ALSO REMEMBER THAT THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS AND BRIGHAM
YOUNG UNIVERSITY ARE FIRM IN OUR POSITIONS ABOUT PROTECTING OUR
INSTITUTIONAL POLITICAL NEUTRALITY. LIKEWISE, WE ARE NOW IN FOOTBALL
SEASON AND WOMEN’S SOCCER AND VOLLEYBALL AND WILL HAVE ALMOST
CONTINUOUS AND VARIOUS ATHLETIC CONTESTS DURING THE ENTIRE
SCHOOL YEAR. WHILE MOST OF OUR STUDENTS AND
COMMUNITY ARE EXEMPLARY IN THEIR SPORTSMANSHIP, WE AS A GROUP OF
AVID BOOSTERS CAN DO BETTER AND MUST DO BETTER IN RESPECTING OUR
OPPONENTS AND, FRANKLY, OURSELVES BY ACTING THE WAY
REPRESENTATIVES OF BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY SHOULD ACT. WE APPLAUD YOUR ENTHUSIASM AND
OUR STUDENT ATHLETES RECOGNIZE AND APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT. HOWEVER, IN BOTH ATHLETICS AND
POLITICS WE SEE FAR TOO MANY EXAMPLES OF OVER-ZEALOUS
BEHAVIOR AND I CAUTION AND ADMONISH YOU TO HELP SOLVE THE
PROBLEMS AND NOT BE THE CREATORS OR PROMOTERS OF OFFENSIVE AND
BOORISH BEHAVIOR. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT OTHERS
DO. THEIR POOR JUDGMENTS OR ACTIONS
DO NOT JUSTIFY IMITATION. THEY CERTAINLY DO NOT JUSTIFY
ACTING OR BEHAVING IN UNSEEMLY WAYS BY THOSE WHO HAVE MADE THE
COMMITMENTS THAT MEMBERS OF THIS COMMUNITY HAVE MADE. I THINK I DON’T NEED TO SAY MORE
ABOUT THESE MATTERS TODAY, BUT I INVITE YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT IN
IMPROVING OUR CONDUCT AND THAT OF OTHERS. IN THE DAYS AHEAD, THE REPORT
AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE BYU PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON
SPORTSMANSHIP WILL BE RELEASED. I ENDORSE BOTH THE WORK AND THE
SUGGESTIONS OF THIS IMPORTANT GROUP CHOSEN BROADLY FROM ACROSS
OUR COMMUNITY. IN A SIMILAR VEIN, WE
OCCASIONALLY WITNESS AMONG US THOSE WHO GIVE COUNSEL OR
CRITICISM WHEN THEY THEMSELVES DO NOT HAVE ALL THE FACTS OR THE
RESPONSIBILITY TO SO COMMENT. INAPPROPRIATE OBSERVATIONS ABOUT
THE PERSONAL CHOICES OF OTHERS WHEN DIFFERING FROM THEIR OWN
PREFERENCES UNFORTUNATELY ARE NOT RESTRICTED TO JUST POLITICS
AND ATHLETICS. INTENSELY PERSONAL DECISIONS
ABOUT WHOM TO MARRY, WHEN TO HAVE CHILDREN IF MARRIED — AS
IF EVERY COUPLE CAN AUTOMATICALLY CAUSE THESE THINGS
TO HAPPEN ON THEIR OWN TIMETABLE. THEY CANNOT — OPINIONS ABOUT
PROPER AND IMPROPER MAJORS OR CAREER CHOICES FOR WOMEN OR MEN
AND OTHER INTRUSIVE VERBAL OR BEHAVIORAL ASSAULTS SHOULD NEVER
BE HEARD OR FOUND IN THE BYU COMMUNITY. HAPPILY, THEY ARE RARE, BUT WHEN
THEY DO HAPPEN, THEY ARE EXTREMELY HURTFUL. ABOVE ALL, NONE SHOULD EVER
ATTEMPT TO IMPOSE GUILT OR DISTRESS UPON ANOTHER BY BEING
OVER-ZEALOUS IN INTERPRETING THE DIRECTIONS AND COUNSEL OF THE
LIVING PROPHETS. THE BRETHREN ARE EXTREMELY
CAREFUL AND CLEAR ABOUT WHAT THEY SAY AND MEAN AND WE SHOULD
FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE. I LIKE THE RESPONSE OF THE
PROPHET ALMA WHEN ASKED A QUESTION BY HIS SON. NOTE THAT ALMA DIDN’T SAY, “I
DON’T HAVE AN OPINION.” RATHER, THIS WAS HIS RESPONSE:
“NOW THESE MYSTERIES ARE NOT YET FULLY MADE KNOWN UNTO ME;
THEREFORE I SHALL FORBEAR.” WE ALL SHOULD FORBEAR MORE OFTEN
AND MORE THOUGHTFULLY. I ALSO DO NEED TO OFFER COUNSEL
ABOUT KEEPING YOUR ZEAL IN PROPER BOUNDARIES WITH RESPECT
TO SOME OTHER MATTERS SUCH AS YOUR HOBBIES, YOUR CREATIVITY
AND EVEN YOUR STUDIES. AS YOU KNOW, OR ARE NOW FINDING
OUT FIRSTHAND, BYU IS A VERY NO-NONSENSE PLACE WHEN IT COMES
TO SCHOLARSHIP AND ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES, EVEN THOUGH WE ALSO
REALLY KNOW HOW TO HAVE APPROPRIATE FUN. ALL OF YOU ARE BRIGHT AND ABLE
OR YOU WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INVITED TO ENROLL. ALL OF YOU WILL NEED TO STUDY
HARD TO SUCCEED AND WILL NEED TO TAKE YOUR COURSE WORK AND OTHER
ACADEMIC ENDEAVORS VERY SERIOUSLY. BUT EVEN HERE, YOU CAN BECOME
OVER-ZEALOUS AND MISS THE MARK IF YOU ARE NOT CAREFUL. THERE ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE SOME
COME TO BYU JUST TO SOCIALIZE OR TO MEET OTHERS WITH SIMILAR
VALUES AND GOALS AND HOPEFULLY TO FIND AN EVENTUAL ETERNAL
COMPANION. WHILE THIS IS NOT THE ONLY
REASON FOR ATTENDING BYU OR EVEN PERHAPS YOUR PRIMARY MOTIVATION
IN COMING HERE, PLEASE DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE ORDERED YOUR
CAP AND GOWN AS YOU ANTICIPATE YOUR PENDING GRADUATION TO DO
ALL YOU CAN TO MEET AND GET TO KNOW PEOPLE WITH WHOM YOU MIGHT
WISH TO SPEND YOUR LIVES IN CREATING A NEW ETERNAL FAMILY
TOGETHER. IF FINDING A MATE IS YOUR ONLY
CONCERN, BYU IS THE WRONG PLACE FOR YOU. BUT IF YOU LEAVE BYU WITHOUT
DOING ALL YOU CAN TO FULFILL THIS IMPORTANT OBLIGATION IN
HEAVENLY FATHER’S PLAN, YOU WILL HAVE MISSED A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
AND MAY PAY A VERY HEAVY PRICE IN THE FUTURE. MAKE NO MISTAKE, EVEN WITH THE
BEST OF INTENTIONS AND EFFORTS, SOME OF YOU WILL LIKELY NOT FIND
THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE WHILE YOU ARE HERE. IF THAT IS THE CASE AND YOU HAVE
DONE YOUR BEST, I PROMISE YOU THAT HEAVEN WILL HELP YOU AND
CAUSE IT TO HAPPEN EVEN IF IT TAKES A VERY LONG TIME AND
EXTENDS BEYOND YOUR MORTAL PROBATION. JUST BE SURE THAT YOU ARE DOING
WHAT YOU CAN AND SHOULD IN ALL THAT YOU DO HERE. HANGING OUT OCCASIONALLY MAY BE
FINE, BUT APPROPRIATE DATING AT THE RIGHT TIME AND IN THE RIGHT
WAY IS VERY IMPORTANT. ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC BUT WITH
THE SAME THEME, LET ME SPEAK CANDIDLY WITH YOU ABOUT THE
TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITIES YOU HAVE BEFORE YOU AT BYU TO GROW
IN THE GOSPEL AS WELL AS TO MATURE IN YOUR ACADEMIC
SPECIALTY AND GENERAL EDUCATION. I REGULARLY MEET STUDENTS WHO
ARE SO FOCUSED ON GAINING A SPECIFIC CREDENTIAL, ADMISSION
TO A PARTICULAR PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL OR GRADUATE PROGRAM OR ON
RECEIVING WELL-EARNED DISTINCTION AT THE TIME OF
GRADUATION THAT THEY FAIL TO HAVE THE FULL EXPERIENCE OF
PARTICIPATING IN THEIR STUDENT WARDS AND STAKES AND IN THE
SPIRITUALLY STRENGTHENING ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS ON CAMPUS
SUCH AS THESE DEVOTIONALS. I CAN PROMISE YOU THAT IF YOU
WILL PLAN YOUR TIME, DISCIPLINE YOUR ACTIVITIES AND SET YOUR
PRIORITIES PROPERLY, YOU WILL GROW AND DEVELOP IN ALL SPHERES
OF YOUR LIVES IN WAYS WHICH WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE ELSEWHERE. YOU NEED TO BE INTELLECTUALLY
STRETCHED BUT ALSO SPIRITUALLY STRENGTHENED. AS I VISIT IN VARIOUS STAKES ON
ASSIGNMENT AROUND THE WORLD, I FREQUENTLY MEET CHURCH LEADERS
WHO EXPRESS GRATITUDE FOR THREE THINGS: FIRST, THAT THEY HAD THE
OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THEIR ETERNAL COMPANION AT BYU;
SECOND, THEY LEARNED IMPORTANT LESSONS IN CHURCH ADMINISTRATION
AND LEADERSHIP IN THEIR STUDENT WARDS; AND THIRD, OFTEN
MENTIONED THIRD, IS A WONDERFUL EDUCATION THAT HAS PREPARED THEM
WELL FOR THE CAREERS THEY ARE PURSUING. BE ZEALOUS IN ALL OF THE GOOD
THINGS YOUR BYU EXPERIENCE OFFERS YOU BUT AVOID BEING
OVER-ZEALOUS IN ANY ONE DIMENSION WHICH WILL LEAD YOU TO
BEING RESTRICTIVE, CONFUSED AND MISLED IN YOUR QUEST TO ACHIEVE
ALL THAT YOU MIGHT GAIN HERE AT BYU. BEING OVER-ZEALOUS WILL ALSO
CAUSE YOU TO MISS OPPORTUNITIES TO BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS IN
WAYS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN VERY BENEFICIAL TO ALL INVOLVED WHILE
YOU ARE AT BYU AS WELL AS LIMITING YOUR CAPACITIES FOR
SIGNIFICANT FUTURE SERVICE THROUGHOUT YOUR LIVES. THE LORD IS AWARE OF THE
TENDENCY OF THE NATURAL MAN AND NATURAL WOMAN IN ALL OF US TO BE
OVER-ZEALOUS ABOUT SOME THINGS AND AS A RESULT BE SLOTHFUL AND
NEGLECTFUL ABOUT OTHERS. AS I CONCLUDE, LET ME TURN TO
THE SCRIPTURES FOR SOME IMPORTANT COUNSEL. FIRST, FROM THE CONCLUDING
INSTRUCTION OF KING BENJAMIN IN HIS GREAT BENEDICTORY ADDRESS. HE HAD SPOKEN DIRECTLY AND
CLEARLY TO HIS PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR TREMENDOUS
RESPONSIBILITIES IN LIVING THE GOSPEL AS HE HAD TAUGHT IT. HE SAW THAT THEY WERE ANXIOUS TO
BE NOT ONLY GOOD AND OBEDIENT BUT TO DO EVERYTHING THEIR
PROPHET-KING AND THE LORD ASKED OF THEM. THINK CAREFULLY AND INVITE THE
SPIRIT TO TEACH YOU WHILE YOU CONSIDER THESE WORDS. “AND SEE THAT ALL THESE THINGS
ARE DONE IN WISDOM AND ORDER; FOR IT IS NOT REQUISITE THAT A
MAN, OR A WOMAN, SHOULD RUN FASTER THAN HE HAS STRENGTH. AND AGAIN, IT IS EXPEDIENT THAT
HE SHOULD BE DILIGENT, THAT THEREBY HE MIGHT WIN THE PRIZE;
THEREFORE, ALL THINGS MUST BE DONE IN ORDER.” SECOND, FROM THE COUNSEL OF THE
LORD TO THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH AFTER JOSEPH HAD MADE A VERY
SERIOUS MISTAKE WHEN HE WAS CLOSE TO THE AGE OF MOST OF YOU. YOU RECALL THAT WHILE IN THE
PROCESS OF TRANSLATING THE BOOK OF MORMON, JOSEPH LET MARTIN
HARRIS TEMPORARILY TAKE 116 PAGES OF THE MANUSCRIPT WHICH
WERE SUBSEQUENTLY LOST. BECAUSE OF THIS TERRIBLE ERROR,
JOSEPH LOST HIS GIFT OF TRANSLATION FOR A SEASON AND HE
WAS TERRIBLY DEPRESSED AND DISAPPOINTED IN THE SITUATION. AFTER A PERIOD OF REPENTANCE,
THE GIFT TO TRANSLATE WAS RESTORED TO YOUNG JOSEPH AND HE
WAS ADMONISHED TO FINISH THE WORK THAT HE HAD BEEN GIVEN TO
DO. IT WAS AT THIS TIME THAT THE
LORD GAVE THIS WONDERFUL TUTORIAL THAT I LIKEWISE SHARE
WITH YOU. “DO NOT RUN FASTER OR LABOR MORE
THAN YOU HAVE STRENGTH AND MEANS PROVIDED TO ENABLE YOU TO
TRANSLATE; BUT BE DILIGENT TO THE END.” MY COUNSEL TO YOU, MY DEAR YOUNG
FRIENDS, AS YOU EMBARK ON THIS VERY IMPORTANT NEW ACADEMIC
SEMESTER IS TO BE CLEAR IN YOUR PRIORITIES, IN YOUR
UNDERSTANDING, IN YOUR FAITH AND IN ALL YOUR ENDEAVORS. DON’T BE LIKE ZENIFF,
OVER-ZEALOUS AND STIFF-NECKED. BE LIKE KING BENJAMIN, WHO
RECEIVED HIS MESSAGE FROM AN ANGEL, AND JOSEPH SMITH WHO WAS
TAUGHT DIRECTLY BY THE LORD. DO WHAT YOU DO WITH WISDOM AND
ORDER. DO NOT RUN FASTER OR LABOR MORE
THAN YOU HAVE STRENGTH AND MEANS, BUT BE DILIGENT ALWAYS. THANKS BE TO GOD OUR HEAVENLY
FATHER AND TO HIS SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST FOR ALL THEIR
BLESSINGS AND AMONG THE MOST PRECIOUS CURRENTLY IS THE
PRIVILEGE OF BEING AT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY. THAT WE MIGHT ALL DEMONSTRATE
OUR LOVE AND APPRECIATION FOR WHAT WE HAVE AND THE
POSSIBILITIES BEFORE US, I PRAY. GOD DOES LIVE AND WE ARE PART OF
HIS GREAT WORK. IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST,

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