Ricks College's largest graduating class ever received counsel and advice from Elder Hugh W. Pinnock during the school's commencement ceremony April 26.
"The joy and peace found in your lives from this moment on will be in direct proportion to your adherence to gospel principles and teachings," said Elder Pinnock of the Seventy, president of the North America Northwest Area who delivered the commencement address."Interestingly enough, some people live the commandments, but do not live the gospel. When asked to teach others, they find an excuse to not help. When the prophet asks them to read the Book of Mormon or to have family home evening, they do not. When asked to give a generous fast offering, they will not sacrifice to do so. When their influence is desperately needed in the blessing and visiting of others, they refuse or do not go. They then wonder why they cannot find more happiness within the Church, even though they are living what commandments are necessary to obtain a temple recommend."
Elder Pinnock urged the 1,692 graduates to remember eight principles.
First, he said, strive "to leave conditions better than you find them."
Secondly, he explained, "we must dream big dreams.
"Isn't it fascinating that you who are in the process of further education, a career, and family preparation are also probably preparing for the greatest events in the history of mankind? . . . To participate in them, not just as a witness, you must formulate those dreams that will motivate and inspire you to be part of these marvelous events."
Next, Elder Pinnock emphasized, "realize the absolute necessity of postponing for a season or two the things that give you reward and pleasure." He quoted author Oscar Lewis, who describes the sad condition of people caught in the web of financial and often emotional poverty because they do not postpone pleasure.
"May each of you know that so many of life's real rewards come only after years of sacrifice and preparation."
The fourth principle, Elder Pinnock explained, is that "vital concepts to consider and significant problems to solve are in your hands and in the hands of those with whom you will associate. However, utopian tasks can only be seen and accomplished by those who know they can be done."
Fifth "is the absolute need for each person to be as independent and self-reliant as circumstances will allow."
The sixth principle, Elder Pinnock continued, is "do what is right in every circumstance."
Becoming well acquainted with nature was the seventh principle Elder Pinnock advocated. "Make her your lifelong associate," he said.
And finally, "fear not to show your emotions and speak your beliefs," he concluded. "Express love and gratitude comfortably."
Ricks College Pres. Steven D. Bennion also addressed the graduates and others attending the commencement exercises.
After explaining many benefits of attending Ricks College, Pres. Bennion asked the graduates to remember three things in their pursuit of a joyful and abundant life.
". . . Don't be afraid to set goals that will cause you to stretch and strain. Yes, shoot for the stars!"
Next, Pres. Bennion urged graduates to have persistence and determination. "May you have the determination to persist when the going gets tough; to pursue those goals and lofty stars when you are knocked down or just fall down. The power to persist is more important than great genius."
And third, "the journey of life becomes exciting and fulfilling as we seek to serve and bless others," Pres. Bennion noted."