Speaking at a BYU devotional March 11, President Thomas S. Monson said that when he was a young boy he enjoyed books, radio programs and movies about adventurers who found treasures of ivory, silver or gold by putting together pieces of old maps.
President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, said that the Savior, in the Sermon on the Mount, spoke of "treasures in heaven." (See Matt. 6:19-21.) President Monson, who was accompanied to BYU by his wife, Frances, then gave students "three pieces of your treasure map to guide you to your eternal happiness":1. Learn from the past. He said that in this, the sesquicentennial year of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley, much will be related about devotion, faith in action, heartbreak, suffering and blessings from on high. "Two words which will be heard repeatedly are heritage and legacy," he said.
"You have a heritage - whether from pioneer forebears or later converts. This heritage, you usually discover, provides a foundation built of sacrifice and faith. Ours is the privilege and responsibility to build on such firm and stable footings."
He spoke of the element of sacrifice that is present at BYU, "if not on your part, then certainly on the part of your parents." He continued, "Let us not forget that the tithes of the faithful - even the widow's mite - underwrite your studies."
Noting that many young men and some young women at BYU are anticipating mission calls and the attendant elements of sacrifice and commitment, he related the experience of Benjamin Landart as an example.
In 1888, Benjamin, then 15, was already an accomplished violinist who lived on a farm in northern Utah with his widowed mother and seven brothers and sisters. He so enjoyed playing his violin that at times his mother had to lock up the instrument until he had his farm chores done. In March 1893, Benjamin auditioned for and won a place with the territorial orchestra in Denver. The conductor told him he was the most accomplished violinist he had heard west of Denver. Benjamin would earn enough money in the orchestra to keep himself, with some left over to send home.
A week later, Benjamin was called to serve a mission. "The young man felt that giving up his chance to play in the territorial orchestra would be almost more than he could bear, but he also knew what his decision should be," President Monson said. "He promised the bishop that if there were any way to raise the money for him to serve, he would accept the call."
While Benjamin's mother was overjoyed about the call, she was concerned about financing the mission. "Benjamin told her he would not allow her to sell any more of their land. She studied his face for a moment and then said, `Ben, . . . this family has one thing that is of great enough value to send you on your mission. You will have to sell your violin.
"Ten days later, on March 23, 1893, Benjamin wrote in his journal: `I awoke this morning and took my violin from its case. All day long I played the music I love. In the evening when the light grew dim and I could see to play no longer, I placed the instrument in its case. It will be enough. Tomorrow I leave for my mission.'
"Forty-five years later, on June 23, 1938, Benjamin wrote in his journal: `The greatest decision I ever made in my life was to give up something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more. He has never forgotten me for it.' "
- Prepare for the future. "We live in a changing world," President Monson said. "Technology has altered almost every vocation: farming, engineering, architecture, medicine, teaching, business - to name but a few. We must cope with these advances - even these cataclysmic changes - in a world our parents never dreamed of and on a playing field we can scarcely comprehend.
"A gentle nudge reminds us that there will be intense competition in the workplace of tomorrow. What you do now may well determine how well you will fare upon graduation.
"Remember the promise of the Lord:
If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.' (D&C 38:30.) Fear is a deadly enemy of progress. Our journey into the future will not be a smooth highway which stretches from here to eternity. Rather, there will be forks and turnings in the road, to say nothing of the unanticipated bumps. Pray daily to a loving Heavenly Father who wants you to succeed in life. In so doing, remember the advice given by Lavern Watts Parmley, a former general president of the Primary Association:We cannot ask God to guide our footsteps if we are not willing to move our feet.' "
- Live in the present. "Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of your opportunity; grasp it."
President Monson said that in tightly contested athletic games, coaches use the word focus. "The team that loses laments,
We lost our focus,' " he said. "The victorious team members will say,We were focused throughout the entire game.' The same observation applies to your educational pursuits. Stay focused."
He encouraged the students to concentrate their efforts, to learn how to study and to achieve their maximum potential. He cautioned that there are distractions, some of which are worthwhile, but added, "If any of you participated in every activity that BYU offers, you would never go to class. You must learn to prioritize. . . .
"Maintain a healthy balance. This is not only the key to college life but also one of the keys to life in general. There is time for your studies, time for your social activities, time for yourself, and time for the Lord."
President Monson urged the students to maintain their integrity. He spoke of a classmate in business law who got top grades by cheating on exams. "Nominated for honors, praised for his intellectual acumen, he passed the examinations of school but failed the test of manhood," President Monson said.
"In a similar classification is the loafer or procrastinator. "Content with mediocrity, he becomes an underachiever in life and loses perhaps forever that appreciation of excellence which, with concentrated effort, would have become his precious prize. As the Apostle Paul admonished his beloved friend Timothy,
Neglect not the gift that is in thee.' (1 Tim 4:14.)Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.' (1 Tim. 4:12.)
"From our Lord and Savior: `Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.' (Matt. 6:19-21.)
"One who teaches this truth and lives as he teaches is our beloved brother and my friend, Elder Neal A. Maxwell. This noble and faithful apostle of the Lord declared, `We misread and misuse life - except with this plain and precious perspective of the gospel which puts the things of the world in their lesser places.
"Then, on that essentially unchanging mortal stage, we can see things for what they are really are, such as the demanding cadence called for by the cares of the world."
In his concluding remarks, President Monson mentioned that Elder Maxwell is seriously ill and asked, "Let the united prayer of this great assembly of precious young men and young women ascend to the Maker of us all in Brother Maxwell's behalf."