It is time to be a brave generation, Elder Walter F. Gonzalez of the Presidency of the Seventy said during the BYU devotional held in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus Nov. 3.
"You are in a wonderful time of your life and are learning so much," he told members of the assembly. "You are busy exploring possibilities and are gleaming with aspirations, illusions and dreams. You are at a point where you are making decisions that require you to be brave and to be bold. Your decisions are being recorded in your book of beginnings, in your stories without end."
Speaking of his own experiences, Elder Gonzalez shared anecdotes of making difficult decisions in his own life, and the effects those decisions have made. He spoke of when he joined the Church in Uruguay and how with that decision he often became a minority at home, at school and his geographical area.
"I mention this because it is inevitable that sooner or later you will be in the minority in standing for righteousness and in standing for the principles and doctrine of the Church," he said. "You may already know what that is all about. When that time comes — if it has not yet come — you will be strengthened by what you have learned."
Speaking of the blessings of gaining an education of both secular and spiritual things, Elder Gonzalez said that an education helps individuals in making key decisions in their lives. He spoke of the boldness that comes with gaining an education, and the faith that is needed and comes from preparation. Elder Gonzalez discussed three areas that will require boldness, especially when one is in the minority.
First, he said, individuals will need to be brave to break the chains that hold them back.
Referencing Alma the younger in the Book of Mormon, Elder Gonzalez spoke of the paralyzing chains that Alma experienced because of his sins.
"The key to Alma being able to break the chains that held him back was that he was brave enough to focus his thoughts on Jesus Christ, the Redeemer," he said. "This required that he overcome his fear of failure. … Exercising faith requires the courage of believing. We are to be brave to believe in His redeeming power and to act accordingly."
Another key decision in life, Elder Gonzalez said, is to defend the principles of truth and righteousness even if an individual is the only one doing it.
"Which is your source of courage?" Elder Gonzalez asked. "You may find yourselves in situations where you have to be brave in defending the principles of righteousness even when nobody is watching. In such situation, you may draw courage to defend the principles of righteousness from your faith in God, and also from your love toward God and fellow man."
The third decision Elder Gonzalez mentioned was to be brave and serve others.
"If you are brave enough to break the chains that hold you back and brave enough to defend the principles of truth and righteousness, you will be better qualified to serve others," he said.
Elder Gonzalez spoke of how time is used during college years, and warned of a self-centered existence, for such an existence, he said, "is perilous for the soul."
"With jobs, school, social activities, and so many other commitments and responsibilities, you probably feel that the day is far too short," he said. "How can you then serve others? As always, the answer lies in the Savior. …"
"We need to develop the ability to see the need in others and break away from our own to-do list in order to serve our fellow man. This will require courage, no doubt, because we may be afraid that if we take time for unprogrammed service, other things will be left undone. We need flexible agendas to leave room for the promptings of the Spirit."
But the greatest example of courage, Elder Gonzalez said, is that of the Savior, and His everlasting atonement.
"The courage to stand for truth in the direst of hours, the courage to serve all, but above all, the courage and love to put the will of the Father before His own," he said. "If we are bold enough to put the will of the Father before our own, in due time … we could say as Paul said, 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith' (2 Timothy 4:7-8). "Be brave enough to defend truth and righteousness and to develop a spirit of service by putting your faith in Christ."