Elder Hallstrom shares 4 keys to a balanced life with BYU-Idaho graduates

Credit: Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Michael Lewis, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Ryan Chase, BYU-Idaho
Credit: Photo by Tyler Rickenbach, BYU-Idaho


“Seeking balance among the essential responsibilities of life is preparatory to salvation,” Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy told graduates at Brigham Young University-Idaho Commencement Exercises held on July 23.

Held in the BYU-I Center on the university’s Rexburg, Idaho, campus, the event recognized 1,891 graduates. Of those graduates, 1,395 received bachelor’s degrees and 523 received associate degrees.

At his first graduation ceremony since being named president of the university, Clark G. Gilbert conducted the event and addressed graduates. Mark B. Woodruff, assistant to the commissioner of the Church Educational System also spoke.

Sharing the example of an act he saw on television as a child, Elder Hallstrom explained how a man was able to balance plates — and keep them spinning — on a handful of poles.

“The excitement of the act was to witness the ability of the performer to expand the number of rotating plates while not letting any fall,” he said. “Invariably, a point would be reached where he was not able to keep up. There was a limit to his ability to increase the number and properly care for the plates already in motion.”

Just as the man in the act had limitations, so do individuals as they are deciding how many “poles” they are able to manage in their life.

“Leading a balanced life is difficult for many,” he said. “There is not an exact pattern for everyone and even our own blueprint may change during different phases of our life. However, seeking balance — giving adequate time and effort to each of those things that really matter — is vital to our success in mortal probation. There are certain fundamental responsibilities we cannot neglect without serious consequence.”

Elder Hallstrom shared four essential “poles” to focus on in life.

Love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

“Our love of the Father and the Son is foundational to all else,” he said. “The Savior, representing the Father, is the source of peace. Love for Him is the supreme motivation to keep ‘in the right way.’ Every other aspect of our life is enhanced when we truly love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, as we will love ourselves and others more completely. Answers to our most challenging problems are found only when we love and have faith in Them.”

Care for family

Drawing from The Family: A Proclamation to the World, prophetic counsel and examples from the scriptures, Elder Hallstrom taught that desires and actions toward family should be a top priority.

“For many, properly caring for our family is the first area of compromise when other demands arise, as the results of neglect are not always immediately apparent,” he said. “Nurturing the husband/wife relationship and building a spiritual home requires men and women of vision and commitment.”

Service to the Lord

A natural extension of one’s love for the Savior is in the desire to serve Him, Elder Hallstrom taught. The way to Him is by serving one another.

“Our time spent in Church and community service may vary during different periods of our life depending on specific callings we may receive and our family circumstances. However, our desire and our availability to serve should never waver.”

Life’s temporal work

“Although temporal work is temporary, it is still important as a support to the other, more long-lasting aspects of life and provides valuable service to others,” he said.

Just as the family proclamation states, families are created by “divine design” and parents must work together as equal partners as they preside and nurture their family.

“These four ‘poles’ must not be neglected,” Elder Hallstrom said. “Each needs constant care to fulfill its proper role in making us ‘whole.’”

As sincere followers of Christ, individuals must constantly evaluate what is most important, he taught.

“Are we so intensively focused on one pole that the plates atop the others are in danger of falling because of our neglect?” he asked. “Or, are we spinning too many poles and need to simplify our life to keep all that truly matters in proper motion?”

Elder Hallstrom said regular self-evaluation is critical to seeking a balanced life and shared three resources to help individuals keep their life in balance. These include public worship, family worship and personal worship.

Ultimately, spirituality is a personal matter, Elder Hallstrom taught. “Public worship leads us to family worship, which leads us to personal worship,” he said. “This includes personal prayer, personal gospel study, and personal pondering of one’s relationship with Deity.”

It is through thoroughly understanding the guiding doctrine and then doing one’s best each day, that one is able to recognize spiritual guidance. If individuals are out of balance, Elder Hallstrom reminded them of the ability to change.

“We organize, prioritize and live worthy of spiritual guidance required when making the difficult decisions," he said. "Often we seek counsel from those closest to us. From time to time, we may be ‘out of balance’ for a brief period as the immediate needs of one portion of our life takes temporary precedence. When this occurs, we knowingly work through the issue and seek to stabilize ourselves as soon as possible, before the short-term need becomes a long-term trait. If we are out of balance, we can change.” @marianne_holman

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