Elder Stevenson tells BYU–Idaho graduates how to ‘extinguish all your fears’

In speaking to a virtual audience, which included 2,576 BYU-Idaho graduates whose last year of education has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described how as a young missionary he overcame fears related to learning the very difficult Japanese language.

“You are going to take a few scrapes and bruises,” Elder Stevenson said. “There will be dark patches on the road ahead.”

However, as sons and daughters of God, “you have an inexhaustible, divine source of strength burning inside of you. ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, … and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7). ‘Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you and will stand by you’ (Doctrine and Covenants 68:6). The Lord’s promise to us is certain: ‘He that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome’ (Doctrine and Covenants 63:20). There is always hope,” Elder Stevenson promised.

He then detailed how to respond, in faith and hope, to three fears graduates might be facing. 

Fear of rejection

Fear of rejection or failure can manifest itself as graduates apply for jobs or seek entry into graduate schools or as they get interviews or worry about many unknown factors of a new job. 

“Remember, [rejection] doesn’t define you,” Elder Stevenson told graduates. “Strive to overcome the natural gravity that fear of failure or rejection causes. It stops you from pressing forward to find opportunities.” 

Fear of marriage and family

The worldwide pandemic and its effect on the economy as well as the current political climate may have, for some, elevated the fears of entering into marriage or starting a family.

The BYU-Idaho campus and the Rexburg Idaho Temple in Rexburg on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.
The BYU-Idaho campus and the Rexburg Idaho Temple in Rexburg on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“Satan understands that the family is central to the Lord’s plan of happiness. His strategy is to cast shadows of skepticism in your life. He is striving to sow the dark seeds of fear in your heart, anything to keep you from experiencing the most glorious, rewarding part of mortality: the bright holiness and happiness that comes from finding an eternal partner, and bringing Heavenly Father’s children into this world,” Elder Stevenson assured graduates.

Fear of standing out

In a leadership conference Elder Stevenson attended, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled, “Don’t be in camouflage.”  

Elder Stevenson then shared an insight he has found in how to “stand up and stand out.” As he meets with friends of other faiths, he seeks for common ground or similar beliefs, such as family values, belief in Christ or humanitarian outreach. 

But as important as it is to find common ground, Elder Stevenson said, “it is just as important to share gospel truths unique to the Church of Jesus Christ.”

He then shared a few examples of these truths, including a living prophet, dedicated temples and the Book of Mormon. 

Navigating twists and turns

In speaking to graduates, Elder Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy and Church commissioner of education, noted that while some may have an idea of where life is headed, “my guess is that there will be twists and turns that will surprise you.”

Elder Paul V. Johnson, Church commissioner of education, speaks during the BYU-Idaho online commencement services on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
Elder Paul V. Johnson, Church commissioner of education, speaks during the BYU-Idaho online commencement services on Thursday, April 8, 2021. Credit: Screenshot byui.edu

Those who let the Lord guide them, He can then use to accomplish His work. “I know that the twists and turns that happened in your journey through life, even the very challenging ones will be a blessing to you and others as you follow the Savior, and keep your covenants,” Elder Johnson promised. 

Noting the achievement of the students to graduate during a “tumultuous year” of pandemic, BYU–Idaho President Henry J. Eyring warned listeners to be prepared both spiritually and physically going forward.

He quoted Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who said, “we will never know if we did too much, but we will know if we do too little,” and then shared of when the Teton Dam broke in 1976. 

Because his father, President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency who was president of Ricks College at the time, had listened to the prophet and stored extra grain, they were able share with those whose homes and food had been spoiled in the flood.

BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring speaks during the BYU-Idaho online commencement services on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring speaks during the BYU-Idaho online commencement services on Thursday, April 8, 2021. Credit: Screenshot byui.edu

“Let us be among the leaders who stand on the high ground, eager to lift and give comfort, raising the hands that hang down. This service and associated reputation will bless our fellow Church members, as well as the pure in heart, across the world,” President Eyring said.