BYU-Hawaii commencement: No escalator to heaven

Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz
Credit: Photo by Monique Saenz


“Everything worth doing, and everything worth becoming and accomplishing, takes work — plain old-fashioned work,” said Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy during BYU-Hawaii’s commencement on Dec. 13. The event, held in the Cannon Activities Center, honored 285 graduates of BYU-Hawaii from 50 countries.

Sharing the example of an escalator “that puts all others to shame,” Elder Clayton told listeners about the Central Mid Level Escalator in Hong Kong.

Because Hong Kong is built on the side of steep hills, the large escalator — the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world that comes just shy of a half mile and elevates more than 443 feet and moves 55,000 passengers daily — takes residents downhill from neighborhoods in the hills in the mornings, and then reverses directions and whisks them back up into the hills in the afternoons and evenings, all in about twenty minutes.

“Escalators are tremendous modern conveniences,” he said. “They really make it easier for us to go up a steep hillside in Hong Kong or anywhere else where we might need to go up to a new level of a building. They’re terrific for moving us from one place to another, but they are not like real life.”

There is no escalator to accomplishment in life, he said.

“There is no place we can stand and just wait for our talents to be burnished and our abilities to be sharpened,” he said. “There is no easy street that leads to becoming something special in life.”

In order to accomplish anything worthwhile, individuals must exercise hard work, he said.

“If we want to accomplish something, we must climb the stairs that take us to our destination,” he told the graduates. “We may be blessed with talent and capacity, but raw ability alone has never produced anything of lasting value. Real progress and accomplishment are the products of careful planning, hard work and the blessings of heaven.”

Work is important for a person individually, in an eternal family, in a profession and in relationships with others. Dreams, goals and hard work — with the blessings of God — create the stairway that will lead individuals upward, he said.

“Great marriages and great families are the product of careful effort and constant attention,” he said. “They don’t just happen; they take time and planning and nurturing. They take work.”

Elder Clayton said that the blessings of Heaven attend those who keep the commandments of God and seek to build their families.

When providing a living for oneself and family, Elder Clayton said it is necessary to stay current academically and to polish and refine talents. Over time, opportunities will come to those who qualify for them.

“Please don’t allow yourself to be content with your present academic achievements and your present level of competence, as wonderful as they are today,” he said. “Your degree is terrific, but it is not enough. … Your ability to provide for your family will be greatly benefitted by your continually paying the price to be prepared. … Doing the work necessary to stay completely current will be essential.”

Elder Clayton spoke of other ways individuals can distinguish themselves.

“Make your word your bond,” he said. “If you promise something, deliver it on time. Do your very best work on everything you do. Arrive for work a little early, stay a little late. Be sure that your employers receive a little extra value in exchange for the salary they pay you. Learn to be pleasant and not to complain. Don’t bring problems to your employer, bring solutions. It doesn’t take much genius to point out problems, but it takes something extraordinary to identify solutions.”

Individuals can identify people whose examples inspire them, and through studying their lives and emulating the patterns that they follow they are able to learn from watching good examples. “Similarly, you are going to be watched by countless others.”

The law of the harvest is still in effect, Elder Clayton taught, and as individuals pattern themselves, their families and their lives according to the commandments of God and covenants with Him, they can safely trust that the law of the harvest will work to their benefit.

“There is no escalator to heaven, and there is no escalator to success, but there is a stairway,” he said. “With God’s help, you can work your way up that stairway all the way to the top. So climb on. … Life beckons you with an alluring promise of happiness and blessings. Trust on, work on, pray on and go forward and upward.

“Trust that the staircase ahead will take you up to achievements that will bless you, your families and all those around you. You will find success in this life if you will follow the pattern and ascend the stairway that leads to it.” @marianne_holman

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