‘Remember and never forget’: Elder Holland teaches graduates how to have guaranteed happiness

On a chilly Friday evening defined by memories, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland asked Brigham Young University-Idaho’s newest graduates to not merely “recollect” all that their school stands for.

Instead, he challenged them on April 12 to “remember” the lessons of the Church-owned institution of learning.

To “remember,” he taught, is a call to action — an active verb utilized in the scriptures 554 times by the Lord or His prophets or some scriptural figure asking someone else to remember something.

“If it is good and worthy and eternal, we should remember it,” said Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during his address at BYU-I’s 2019 Winter Semester Commencement at the BYU-Idaho Center.

Graduates wave to friends and family at the April 12, 2019, Winter Semester Commencement at BYU-Idaho.
Graduates wave to friends and family at the April 12, 2019, Winter Semester Commencement at BYU-Idaho.

It was the Savior Himself who said: “Therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day.” (3 Nephi 15:1)

The Holy Ghost, meanwhile, “brings all things to our remembrance,” and the sacrament prayer is offered “in remembrance” of the Lord’s body and blood.

Friday’s graduation marks a “delightful hour” of celebration, said Elder Holland.

“To quote Rudyard Kipling, you are all 'captains and kings' today, the featured stars of this drama, center stage, and rightly so,” he said. “We want this to be one of the greatest days of your life. Take photos. Sign autographs. Hang your diploma on the wall. Use all of these ways to preserve your memories of these years, and let those remnants of this day remind you what so many have done for you in order that you could be here today.”

Actively — with purpose and action — remember parents, family, friends, faculty, spouses and all others who made it possible to be “at this remarkable university.” Remember the many tithe payers and Church leaders who support BYU-Idaho through their generosity and commitment.

“Remember and never forget that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that His name is the only name given under heaven whereby any man, woman, or child can be saved, and that this gospel — with its saving principles and ordinances, its covenants and righteous counsel — is only available in its fullness in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Elder Holland warned that spiritual convictions can slip away, in time, into forgetfulness or disrepair or seeming unimportance. “Educational success can do it. Money can do it. Stress can do it. Above all, vanity and arrogance and self-sufficiency can do it.

BYU-Idaho Choir performs during commencement exercises on April 12, 2019.
BYU-Idaho Choir performs during commencement exercises on April 12, 2019.

Unnourished, untended and unappreciated, the flame that fuels a person’s testimony and "remembrance" can flicker, grow dim and even die.

“I charge you this day to remember — remember the divinity of this work,” he said.

Remember to pray. Remember to serve. Remember to learn. Remember to tithe. Remember to teach. Remember to be clean, to be honest, and to forgive.

“And remember to be this happy 10 years from now. Then 20, then 50,” he said. "I have told you and 554 remembrance scriptures have backed me up as to how you can guarantee that happiness. "

Elder Holland concluded by telling the graduates that they have earned “every minute” of the joyful tumult and shouting of the day.

“May you remember to remember with ‘a humble and a contrite heart’ to be valiant all the days of your lives.”

The university awarded 1,978 bachelor's degrees and 531 associate degrees at its Winter Semester Commencement. Of the graduates, 1,487 are women and 999 are men. Campus-based students make up 1,786 of this semester’s graduates, while 700 of the graduates are online students. More than 500 of those graduating started their college career as PathwayConnect students.

New virtual classrooms for BYU-Pathway connect students anytime, anywhere.

Elder Kim B. Clark, a General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Church Educational System, told the graduates that their future success will depend upon the extent “to which you live the truth."

Divine truth, when used righteously, provides power and blessings.

“The most important truths we have are the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “Whenever you and I live Gospel truth we receive the power and blessings God has prepared for those who obey His commands and live according to His law. That is true for all things, both spiritual and temporal.”

Elder Kim B. Clark addresses the graduates during BYU-Idaho Winter Commencement on April 12, 2019.
Elder Kim B. Clark addresses the graduates during BYU-Idaho Winter Commencement on April 12, 2019.

When Elder Clark served as Dean of Harvard Business School, he promised his faculty members that if they supported one another, even to the point of sacrificing their own personal work, they would create an environment that would serve them well both collectively and individually.

“What I said was so contrary to the competitive, publish-or-perish environment in which most of them had grown up, that I was not surprised that many of the faculty were skeptical,” he said. “But over time those individuals and departments who practiced that principle flourished in all dimensions of their work.”

Live gospel truths — and then teach them to others, he concluded.

In his brief remarks, BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring referenced the influential roles both Elder Holland and Elder Clark had played in his professional career at the Rexburg school. Elder Clark offered him a position at BYU-Idaho following President Eyring’s service as a mission president. Elder Holland, meanwhile, instilled in him a vision of the power and reach of the school that he now leads.

“For the past thirteen blessed years, I’ve seen thousands of BYU-Idaho graduates go out into the world, prepared to be natural leaders,” he said. “You will do so now. That is your BYU-Idaho birthright, as you honor it.”