Elder Gary E. Stevenson offers BYU-Hawaii students four items of counsel

Credit: Monique Saenz, BYU-Hawaii
Credit: Monique Saenz, BYU-Hawaii
Credit: Welsey Ng, BYU-Hawaii
Credit: Wesley Ng, BYU-Hawaii

LAIE, Hawaii

Elder Gary E. Stevenson invited BYU-Hawaii students on Sept. 19 to enjoy the blessings of a bishop, maintain a gospel perspective, maintain a spiritual balance and remember the Lord will help them.

As speaker for the weekly BYU-Hawaii devotional, Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the warm greetings of Church leaders with the students. “They, along with both Lesa and me, want you to know how amazing we think you are,” he said. “The Lord loves each one of you. You play such a very important role in the Church here in Laie, as students attending BYU-Hawaii.”

During his remarks, Elder Stevenson provided the students with four items of counsel to follow in their lives:

Enjoy the blessings of a bishop.

“Each of your bishops are instructed to minister to you, helping you become a faithful follower of Jesus Christ,” Elder Stevenson taught. “Ministering to you means they will remember your name and become acquainted with you, they will love without judging you, watch over and strengthen your faith, even as the Savior did, and establish a sincere friendship and visit with you.”

Elder Stevenson encouraged the students to enjoy the blessings of this relationship. “As students, you’re often moving from one ward to another each school year,” he said. “May I recommend that you introduce yourself to your new bishop at the beginning of the school year or a new semester? You should always know who your bishop is and do what you can to assure that he knows you and your name. The best way to do this is to attend your meetings regularly and to serve where you are called.”

Maintain a gospel perspective.

“When you have this ‘gospel perspective,’ it will give you greater clarity as to the way you think about your life’s priorities, solve problems, as well as face your personal temptations. This can truly affect your overall approach to your entire life and the various decisions that you make along the way,” Elder Stevenson said.

Satan strives to tempt God’s children not to follow the Savior or heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost, which often greatly limits agency and the ability to withstand the adversary’s efforts. “In stark contrast, the lens of the gospel gives us a clear vision of the importance of creating families, choosing to marry and raising children in righteousness,” Elder Stevenson said. “This view also opens our eyes to see that the adversary would like to destroy the family unit altogether or confuse important family roles, thus making society decrease in relation to the formation and building of families.”

Maintain a spiritual balance.

Using an image of stones balancing on each side of a beam, Elder Stevenson illustrated the need to maintain balance between life’s various responsibilities like education, employment, marriage and emotional and physical wellness on one side and one’s spirituality on the other.

“You must be very careful as you allocate your time that you don’t starve yourself spiritually while you keep focus on all your other pursuits and responsibilities,” he said. This is especially important for university and college students to attend Church meetings, have daily prayer and scripture study and serve in Church callings, Elder Stevenson continued.

Most people tend to tip more heavily toward one side or the other, he said. “There may be times when you find that you need to exercise care to keep clearly focused on your school work, with Church service done in Church service time,” Elder Stevenson said. “Remember to keep the Lord as your ‘fulcrum’ to find your appropriate spiritual equilibrium.”

Remember, the Lord will help his children.

Elder Stevenson shared a story from one of his youth leaders, Thad Carlson, to illustrate that the Lord will help His children in times of need. Thad was raised in the Great Depression era as the ninth of 14 children. In his youth, he was given some responsibilities on his family’s farm, including to herd the cattle. “He was able to do this with the aid of a smart cow pony who knew exactly what to do with very little direction,” Elder Stevenson said. However, this pony named Old Smoky had one flaw: “Whenever this horse was approached to be caught, he would just run away, knowing that he was going to be put to work.”

One day, Thad took the cattle to graze on some long, green grass alongside the train tracks. Suddenly, he heard the loud noise of a train whistle. Rushing to get the cattle away from the tracks, he tried to grab Old Smoky’s reins, but as was typical, the cow horse darted away.

Thad later recorded, “My primary teacher [and mother] had taught [me]to pray … . With no other recourse, I dropped to my knees and started to pray for help to clear the cows off the tracks.” He further wrote that he didn’t hear a distinct voice, but the clear thought came that he should crawl — much like a cow that Old Smoky didn’t run away from — toward the cow horse. Thad recalled, “I did. He didn’t move. I grabbed his reins, led him to the fence, hopped on his back and we raced like the wind to get the cows back into the pasture. Old Smoky was unusually brilliant at every twist and turn.”

“We all have our ‘cattle to clear off the railroad tracks before the train arrives,’ ” Elder Stevenson said. “They come in many different forms, shapes and sizes. … One thing is certain, each of you will have adversity and affliction in your lives because it is part of our mortal experience. But remember, the Lord will help you.”

Elder Stevenson closed by sharing his testimony with the students. “We have a loving Heavenly Father, and we are His children. I have faith in and a testimony of Jesus Christ and of His role as our Savior and Redeemer.

“I offer my special witness of Jesus Christ, of His infinite Atonement. I bear witness of His birth, of His life, of His ministry, of His death and of His resurrection. All of which comprise the sacred and infinite Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

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