Elder Ballard offers grandfatherly counsel to single university students

Credit: Jason Swensen
Credit: Jason Swensen
Credit: Jason Swensen
Credit: Jason Swensen


The 22,700-seat Marriott Center can accommodate huge crowds for BYU basketball games and other large-scale events.

But for the legions of young single adults who gathered here Nov. 9, the massive facility almost seemed to double as a cozy family room where they received loving direction from a trusted patriarch.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to the young people — most belonging to 14 BYU YSA stakes. Elder Ballard, of course, is a veteran Church leader. But he is also a father and grandfather. In his counsel-rich talk, he spoke to his audience members as he might with his own young adult grandchildren.

He began by challenging the young people to take time to prayerfully examine their own lives. Is there anything they should change? Are there things that keep them from being happy?

“Find a quiet place to interview yourself and ask, ‘How am I doing?’ You are best qualified to know what you need to stop doing and what you need to start doing,” he said.

Goals, he taught, are essential to spiritual and personal development. He encouraged the students to determine what they want to do with their academic studies and then move forward.

“Accelerate your progress,” he said. “We need you out in the world.”

Financial debt can hinder a young person’s growth. Learn to manage money wisely, he said.

Elder Ballard noted the world’s often ambivalent attitude towards marriage. Over 50 percent of the couples living together in the United States are not married. He warned his audience of “the lie” that it’s appropriate for couples to live together before matrimony to see if things work out.

The decision to marry his wife, Barbara, “was the greatest and wisest decision I ever made.” The Ballards did not have much money when they married or when they began having children. But they made do with what they had and found joy in being a family.

The apostle counseled the single young women to be their best selves. “Let the beauty of your spirit shine through your eyes.” And his advice to the men? “Keep your eyes open and wake up,” he said, drawing laughter from his young audience.

He then spoke of the power of prayer and becoming sensitive to personal revelation. Pray every day with gratitude and humility, he counseled.

“God is our Father and He will answer our prayers,” he assured.

Many of the young men and young women involved in single adult wards are returned missionaries. Elder Ballard said one’s duty to share the gospel does not end with a full-time mission.

“Do not let a day go by that you do not have an opportunity to share what you know is true with someone else,” he said.

He also counseled the students to enjoy the safety found in the BYU Honor Code and to visit the nearby temples as often as possible.

No one but God knows what sort of future Church assignments await those in attendance. Some may serve in bishoprics, stake presidencies, high councils, as mission presidents, auxiliary leaders or even General Authorities. “My appeal is to prepare yourself now.”

He concluded his remarks by reminding the students of the powers of heaven and revelation that can help them deal with the struggles of the day. Hang in there, he said “and do the best you can.”

Never pass on an opportunity to “go to Gethsemane in your mind” and remember Christ’s atonement and love for you.

“Jesus Christ is our very best friend,” said Elder Ballard.

Several others participated in the young single adult gathering, including Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy. He encouraged the students to seek a full life defined by morality, virtue and goodness.

Avoid harmful things such as pornography that damage one’s sensitivity to the Spirit, he added. Always press forward in faith.

Elder Clayton’s wife, Sister Kathy Ann Clayton, Elder R. Scott Runia, an Area Seventy, and Sister Elizabeth A. Smith, temple matron of the Mount Timpanogos Temple, shared additional inspiration, instruction, and testimonies.

Brother Matthew S. Holland, president of Utah Valley University, also shared his testimony. @JNSwensen

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed