BETA

Happiness found in spiritual growth

Elder Merrill J. Bateman addresses graduates at BYU-Idaho commencement

REXBURG, Idaho — Mortality has been designed so it can be an ever-learning venture, Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Presidency of the Seventy told graduates at BYU-Idaho during a commencement speech Aug. 20.

A total of 666 graduates received degrees following the summer semester that ended Aug. 19. There were 336 bachelor's degrees and 341 associate degrees awarded.

While on campus, Elder Bateman also dedicated the new 22,500-square-foot Student Health and Counseling Center that opened this summer to serve a growing student population.

During his commencement address, Elder Bateman said, "While serving as president of Brigham Young University in Provo, commencements were among my favorite experiences for two reasons. First, they were an exciting time because they represented the successful completion of a long journey. Second, they were a family affair. The campus was filled with fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses and friends."

He said the purpose of a university is to provide students with the tools and incentives to continue the learning process. "Our Father in Heaven designed mortality so that it could be an ever-learning venture," he said. "The heavenly design of life's experiences from early childhood to old age is ordered so that each person may acquire light and knowledge from birth to death. This is true both temporally and spiritually."

Elder Bateman said the world is changing at an accelerating pace. In almost all forms of employment, one must continue to learn or be left behind.

"In like manner, growth in spiritual understanding must not cease with a mission, or the last religion class, or when the children are gone and the nest is empty," he said. "Success in this world, both spiritual and temporal, requires that you endure to the end in acquiring 'knowledge and intelligence' from study and from experience. Your future happiness depends on it."

He said not only has each graduate acquired the tools for continued learning, but each has laid a foundation for a happy life. In general terms, happiness refers to the good feelings that come from living true principles.

"Happiness must be earned. It is the by-product of righteousness — of one's thinking and behavior. . . . But happiness does not come from 'things' at all. It is not determined by conditions, environment or possessions, but stems from living one's life in a manner consistent with the purpose of one's creation."

He concluded, "Happiness is found in spiritual growth, in the blessings of a physical body, and in the family unit. At this graduation, you stand at a crossroad in life. Happiness lies ahead if you will do your best, indeed your 'very best' with the following: continue to study the gospel, pray with even more earnestness, extend yourself in service to others, treat your body with great respect, and deeply commit to the creation of an eternal family."

BYU-Idaho President David A. Bednar counseled graduates to be quick to observe and to act. "As you celebrate your graduation today and leave BYU-Idaho, I hope you also have become 'quick to observe.' (See Mormon 1:2.) Your future success and happiness will, in large measure, be determined by the spiritual capacity to be quick to observe."

For example, he said his wife frequently prays for the "spiritual eyes" to see those who have a particular need. "Often as she looks and observes the brothers and sisters and children in the congregation, she will receive a spiritual nudge to visit with or make a phone call to a particular person. And when Sister Bednar receives such an impression, she is quick to observe and to respond and to obey. . . .

"Each of us can and should strive to be worthy of this significant spiritual gift. I pray that as you now depart BYU-Idaho that you, indeed, are and will continue to be 'quick to observe.' "

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