The building and strengthening of God’s kingdom is “the great mission we all have as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told students at Utah Valley University on Friday, Sept. 20.
Speaking alongside UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez at a devotional for Latter-day Saint students in the overflowing chapel and cultural hall of the Utah Valley Institute of Religion, President Ballard emphasized the important role that the rising generation has in the gathering of Israel. Also in attendance was Elder Craig C. Christensen, General Authority and president of the Utah Area of the Church. Elder Christensen introduced Tuminez prior to her address.
While students should work hard to excel in their temporal studies, President Ballard said they should never forget the more important and long-term part of their education — the education of their spirits regarding the things of eternity.
“Life is an eternal journey, and we are on that journey together,” he said. “Every once in a while, I think it is a good thing for us to stop and think about our main purpose for coming to the earth. Prepare yourselves so you see that your eternal spirit is strong. Then your life will be filled with the faith and love of our Father in Heaven, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Balancing one’s spiritual education with one’s temporal education will allow individuals to see what matters most in this life, President Ballard said.
“You’ll come to know that it is not how much money you make. It won’t be what kind of house you live in, it won’t be the kind of car you drive. It’s a lot deeper than that. Life is a time to learn and prepare to once again be in the presence of and live with our Father in Heaven.”
He continued: “The real you is the spiritual you. You lived before you came here. You are sons and daughters of God. We are all His spirit offspring. He loves us, as President Nelson has said, with a perfect love. He wants us to be successful. He wants us to make our way and to accomplish good things and to do much good along the way in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.”
As children of God and as spiritual brothers and sisters, those who have the gospel of Jesus Christ have a responsibility to share it with those who do not have it yet — on both sides of the veil — said President Ballard, emphasizing the importance of family history and temple work.
The generations of today have been immensely blessed by advances in technology that have made family history work easier than ever before. But along with those advances come potential dangers, he warned.
“We have to be careful where we are spending our time,” he said, encouraging students to make sure they give equal time to the Lord through scripture study and spiritual development as they are willing to spend on the internet and social media. Doing so will allow individuals to better handle the difficulties and challenges that come in mortality, he noted.
Sharing some of the personal challenges she has faced in life, Tuminez emphasized the importance of quieting the noise of the world and relying on the Lord for help through difficult times.
During a period of her life when she felt dejection and despair, it was prayer and meditation, in addition to keeping herself busy with work, that allowed her to regain a sense of hope, Tuminez explained.
Through the advice of a counselor, she said she took the time each day to pray to her Father in Heaven and place all her burdens before Him, asking for His help to bear them.
“… After some time, I began to feel a new lightness and freedom,” she said. And slowly, day by day, her burdens felt lifted and she found a new sense of hope.
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“I believe that at UVU we are in the business of hope,” she continued. “Each person here … has a marvelous, divine human potential, fully capable of blossoming. … In this community, on this campus, I hope that we will truly try to see one another.”
Adding to Tuminez’s advice to lift one another, President Ballard encouraged students to look for opportunities to teach and testify of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of the gospel can “help someone who may be a little discouraged – even depressed – to awake spiritually,” he said.
President Ballard concluded his devotional address by sharing his witness of the reality and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the love that God has for all His children. He then left the students with a challenge to invite just one other person to learn of the gospel.
“Reach out and bring them to Institute, that they might learn and feel what you feel as a people of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said, noting that he too will challenge himself to find someone to share the gospel with. Doing so is one of the best ways to express one’s love for the Lord, he said.