Elder Andersen encourages BYU–Pathway students to ‘believe in yourself; trust in the Lord’

‘Faith is something that grows, if you allow it to,’ Elder Andersen teaches. ‘Or, if you don’t, it will diminish’

Sitting in his office in the Church Administration Building while filming a BYU–Pathway Worldwide broadcast, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles held up a rock he brought home from his four years serving in Brazil as a General Authority Seventy. 

From one side, it appeared to be a plain, ordinary rock, but turning it over, Elder Andersen showed that “there’s so much more inside than what you see on the outside.”

Similarly, BYU–Pathway allows men and women both in and out of the Church to “take that power that they have inside and affect, to some extent, what happens to them on the outside,” Elder Andersen said during the broadcast that aired Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

In speaking to students throughout the world enrolled in the Church’s online education program, the Apostle was joined by BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Brian K. Ashton, who posed questions from students.

The theme that emerged in their responses to those questions — and the title for the devotional — was “Believe in Yourself: Trust in the Lord.” 

“I love you, and we are so very, very proud of you for the effort you’re making to make something of your life,” Elder Andersen said, “to build up … what you can become — and, most importantly, to become a righteous son or daughter of God, and also someone of capacity, of skill, of intellect.”

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, right, speaks to BYU–Pathway students during a devotional broadcast on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. He is joined by BYU–Pathway President Brian K. Ashton, left. | Screenshot from

The first question read by President Ashton asked how strengthening faith in Jesus Christ can lead students to be more serious in their educational pursuits.

In response, Elder Andersen referenced Matthew 6:38 — “Seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God and establish His righteousness” — and the talk given by President Russell M. Nelson in the latest general conference. The Prophet “helped show us that by having faith in Christ and really loving Him, you can push away a lot of the difficulties that plague [you] in the world,” Elder Andersen said.

Those who keep covenants made with God can, as President Nelson promised, “overcome the spiritually and emotionally exhausting plagues of the world, including arrogance, pride, anger, immorality, hatred, greed, jealousy and fear” (“Overcome the World and Find Rest,” October 2022 general conference).

As individuals exercise faith in Christ, then those negative issues of the adversary need not weigh them down, Elder Andersen said, and they can focus on making their lives better and happier.

President Ashton then asked what advice Elder Andersen would give to students about making the most of their education.

Elder Andersen encouraged students to first think about what they do well and what they want to do. And if helpful, avail themselves of the opportunity to learn English through EnglishConnect, the Church’s English-language learning program.

Second, look for the opportunity to “show that you’ve accomplished something.”

BYU–Pathway offers certificates on the way to gaining a degree. A certificate can mean a lot in separating students’ skills from others, he said.

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To the question, “it seems that oftentimes success comes from doing things differently. How does one figure out what to do differently and then have the courage to follow that path?” President Ashton encouraged students to pray and ask for the Lord’s help. 

When he’s done that in his own career, President Ashton said, “I’m much more able to come up with things that will add value and really make a difference. And then, of course, if I feel like that’s coming from the Lord, that gives me a lot of courage to go forward.”

Be persistent, Elder Andersen added. “You have to set out your course,” he said, and stay determined to keep following through.

BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Brian K. Ashton speaks during a devotional broadcast with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. | Screenshot from

President Ashton noted that many BYU–Pathway students have faced challenges in their education where things have not gone as planned. If they will persist in putting forth a little – or sometimes a lot – more effort, “the Lord’s help comes and you’re successful.”

The last question was, how does faith in Jesus Christ guide individuals in everything else they do?

“Faith is something that grows, if you allow it to,” Elder Andersen said. “Or, if you don’t, it will diminish.”

So grow your faith, Elder Andersen said. If individuals feel like they are receiving answers to prayers, that they are becoming more unselfish, doing good and caring about other people, then “all of these things give you the chance to receive the approval of our Heavenly Father. You feel His love and His tender sense of ‘I’m proud of you. I know you’re not perfect. I know you’re still learning, ... but you’re on the right path.’” 

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that all things will be made right — any injustice, any unfairness, any difficulty — allows individuals to think beyond their current circumstances and allows them to become someone they hope to become, Elder Andersen testified.

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