BYU-Idaho: 'Face the future with optimism'


"Replace fear with faith," Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled BYU-Idaho's graduating class during commencement exercises April 6.

"As you think about your future, you should be filled with faith and hope," he told the graduates gathered in the BYU-Idaho Center on the university's Rexburg campus. "Always remember that Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, the architect of our salvation, and the head of this Church, is in control. He will not permit His work to fail. He will be victorious over all darkness and evil. And He invites us all, members of His Church and others who are the honest in heart, to join in the battle for the souls of men."

It is through consecrating heart, might, mind and strength to His cause that individuals are able to walk in faith and work with conviction, he said.

"Face the future with optimism," he instructed, and added, "I believe we are standing on the threshold of a new era of growth, prosperity and abundance. ...

"Barring a calamity or unexpected international crisis, I think the next few years will bring a resurgence in the economy as new discoveries are made in communication, medicine, energy, transportation, computer technology and other fields of endeavor."

Many of these discoveries — as in the past — will be the result of the Spirit whispering insights into and enlightening the minds of truth-seeking individuals, he said.

"Many of these discoveries will be made for the purpose of helping to bring to pass the purposes and work of God and the quickening of the building of His kingdom on earth today," he declared. "With these discoveries and advances will come new employment opportunities and prosperity for those who work hard and especially to those who strive to keep the commandments of God."

It is this growth that will also allow the gospel to be taken to every nation, kindred, tongue and people until it fills the whole earth in preparation for the Savior's Second Coming, he said.

"As the gospel is carried to the billions of spiritually hungry souls, miracles will be performed by the hand of the Lord," he said.

"Missionaries of many nationalities will serve the Lord throughout the earth. New chapels and many more temples will be built to bless the Saints as pre-millennial growth has been prophesied." It is through the tithes and offerings of faithful members that will help provide that growth, Elder Ballard said.

"As you graduates do your part, the Lord will bless you with prosperity and the wisdom to keep your mind focused on what matters most in your life, ..." he said. "I believe you graduates sitting here today will be active participants in temporal blessings if you keep the commandments of the Lord. With prosperity will come a unique challenge — a test that will try many of you to your spiritual core. As you step into this new world of prosperity and engage in converting your education into financial success, you will always have to control wants versus needs."

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve speaks during BYU-Idaho's commencement exercise
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve speaks during BYU-Idaho's commencement exercises on April 6, held in the BYU-Idaho Center on the college's Rexburg campus. | Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho

Elder Ballard spoke of two motivational choices: to build and acquire the blessings of the Lord for personal gratification, for the recognition of men, for power, influence and self-aggrandizement; or, to acquire those blessings with the motive to glorify God and, thereby, working to help usher in the growth and expansion of His Church.

"Those who seek riches to build up their own egos will find their treasure to be slippery and easily lost in unwise ways," he said. "The welfare of their souls will be in great jeopardy. ...

"The Lord is not telling us that we should not be prosperous or that prosperity is a sin or is evil. On the contrary, He has always blessed the obedience of His people with prosperity. He is telling us that we should seek prosperity only after we seek, find and serve Him. Then, because our hearts are right, because we love Him first and foremost, we will choose to invest the riches we obtain in building His kingdom."

It is through choosing to seek riches for the sake of riches that individuals will always fall short, he said.

"You will never be satisfied. You will be empty, never finding true happiness and lasting joy."

| Photo by Doug McKay, BYU-I

Elder Ballard told the graduates that the trial of their faith in the years after graduation will likely not be the lack of material things of this world, but rather it will be in choosing what to do with the temporal blessings they might receive.

"Brothers and sisters, to be a vital part of the marvelous work and wonder in these last days, you must submit your will to God, letting it be swallowed up in His will. ... I urge you to make a commitment to yourself and to Heavenly Father to dedicate your life and consecrate your time and talents to the building up of the Church of Jesus Christ in anticipation of the Savior's Second Coming," he said.

"Let the motive of your thoughts and actions be to glorify God and to bless your fellow man. Let this desire inspire you to greet each new morning with enthusiasm, let it fuel your thoughts and actions throughout each day. If you do this, you will be blessed in the midst of a world that is fast losing its way, and you and your loved ones will be secure and happy. This does not mean you will not face trials and tests, but it does mean you will have the spiritual power to handle them with faith and trust in the Lord.

"My dear graduates, the purpose of my message is to help you envision your future. Have faith and hope for the bright future you face as you leave BYU-Idaho and move on to your next great adventure."

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