In his last assignment as president of Brigham Young University-Idaho, Elder Kim B. Clark congratulated more than 1,900 graduates during the commencement exercises on April 10.
The event, held in the BYU-Idaho Center on the university’s Rexburg, Idaho, campus, brought friends, family and faculty together to celebrate the graduates and listen to Church leaders. Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy and Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy and Commissioner of Education for the Church spoke, as did Elder Clark, who was sustained April 4 as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Gay spoke on the topic, “Let your light shine,” and shared two fundamental principles for consideration.
“The first principle is that you hear and follow the Spirit, doing things in the Lord’s way, not your way; the second is that you embrace the marginalized of this world, or as Christ said: the lost, the last and the least.”
The ultimate foundation of all an individual does in life should be to live so that the voice and integrity of the Spirit is the force in determining actions — both professionally and personally, Elder Gay said.
"Yours is a time that calls for men and women willing to assert their birthright of choice to alter and shape lives and institutions in a way that reflects the moral and spiritual values dictated by the Spirit of God. Unless you can arrive at that point, you will idolize and surround yourself with the trivial.”
Acting according to the Spirit is not always easy, and often requires significant sacrifice and, at times, deep obedience against the purely rational mind.
When thinking about the future, Elder Gay told graduates that rather than becoming a part of the “real world,” it is time to resolve forever to “stand above the world.”
“The intimate and absolute test of your life will not be the job or career ahead, not even whether you marry or serve in the Church — but rather the test is: Will you, ‘hear’ or ‘hearken’ and act upon the voice of the Spirit of God within you with exactness — using all the talents and gifts and education He has given you — to bring to pass His work and His glory and not your work and your glory.
“Unless you hear and follow the voice of the Spirit, you cannot and will not survive this day and time — and you will certainly never achieve the impact your life can otherwise realize.”
Sharing examples of times in his own life where he made a decision based on following the Spirit, Elder Gay said that it was through heeding that voice that doors opened, allowing him to become an instrument in the hand of the Lord.
“If you understand nothing else tonight, understand this — whether you are on the farm pitching hay and harvesting potatoes, or in the home raising a family, or working as a manager in business — you will not be whole and healed and fully empowered unless you receive His voice and go and do whatever it directs,” he said. “In a very real sense, it does not matter what you have studied and leave here to do. What matters is that you make whatever you do one with the Lord and His voice.”
It is that same Spirit that will direct individuals in embracing the marginalized, he said. The reality of the world today is a time of both good and evil, with great divisions within and without the Church. Many of the issues are hard to deal with, and cause struggle.
“The Lord expects much more of us than words,” he said. “He expects an outreach of charity. He expects us to go into the ‘highways and byways’ of people’s lives and bring them to the Sacred Grove and to Gethsemane and Calvary.”
It is through following the Spirit, and the example of the Savior, that individuals are able to lift others and move forward against a world that does not always believe.
“As you leave this conference center tonight, may you do so with the resolve to live as a witness for Christ by letting your light ‘shine before men,’” he said.
Elder Johnson encouraged graduates to “be ready and worthy, and also willing to allow the Lord to guide you in your very significant lives.”
“For a few of you your life plans may actually unfold the way you envision them, but for the vast majority of you, your lives in 40 years will be different than you have designed them now,” Elder Johnson said. “This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan, but it does mean that many of you will see twists and turns that you couldn’t have anticipated. You don’t have to be too concerned if the specifics of your life plans don’t pan out exactly as you had envisioned them. The Lord can guide and shape our lives if we will let Him.”
In his parting remarks as president of BYU-Idaho, Elder Clark shared “the most important counsel” he could give graduates:
“Keep the world out of your heart and the Holy Ghost in it. The world is not in your heart now; don’t let it in.”
Keeping the world out of one's heart is not easy, he said.
“There is all around us now, and there will be all around us in the days ahead, diabolical ‘shafts in the whirlwind,’ cunning devices, lying craftiness, subtle deception, flattery, doctrines of devils, and commandments of men,” he said. “These are all designed to tempt you, deceive you, turn you away from Christ, and bring you down to destruction by getting the world into your heart.”
The sure way to keep the world out of one’s heart and the Holy Spirit in it is through the Sabbath and the sacrament, he taught.
“If you will observe the Sabbath day to keep it a holy day and if you will partake of the sacrament in a spirit of love, remembrance and commitment, your faith in our Heavenly Father and in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will increase,” he said. “You will keep the world out of your hearts and the Lord Jesus Christ will bless you with His Spirit.”
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