‘There is a hurry,’ Brother Wilcox says about education, repentance and gathering Israel

Long before Stephen R. Covey and Jon M. Huntsman Sr. achieved professional and economic success, they both felt — and responded to — the need to help others, said Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency. 

Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and Huntsman, a businessman and philanthropist, exemplified what Brother Wilcox described as “a sense of urgency.” Covey once said, “If you wait until you are rich enough to do some good in the world, you will probably never do it.”

During an Oct. 12 Ensign College devotional in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Brother Wilcox told students, “We need to feel an urgency to draw closer to God and an urgency to live in accordance with His truth.”

Just as the shepherds went “with haste” upon hearing of the Savior’s birth, Brother Wilcox urged listeners to proceed “with haste” in their efforts to pursue education, repent and gather Israel. 

Education

Education is part of Latter-day Saint culture. “It is a part of who we are,” Brother Wilcox said. 

Three years after the Church’s organization in 1830, Joseph Smith established the School of the Prophets. As the Saints moved west, Brigham Young encouraged them to bring maps and books. Three months after the first pioneers arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847, they started a school. The University of Deseret was established four months later.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, right, sits with his wife, Sister Deborah Wilcox, prior to the start of an Ensign College devotional on Oct. 12, 2021, in the Assembly Hall.
Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, right, sits with his wife, Sister Deborah Wilcox, prior to the start of an Ensign College devotional on Oct. 12, 2021, in the Assembly Hall. Credit: Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

“That focus on education continues in the Church today,” Brother Wilcox said, citing research that Latter-day Saints — both male and female — have a significantly higher level of educational attainment than does the population of the United States as a whole. 

Brother Wilcox said his fear is that many today are settling for sound bites on social media rather than studying deeply. “There is so much more to learn. Reading broadly matters. Education matters. Attending your classes matters. And there is a hurry.”

Repent

“YOLO”— “You Only Live Once” — has become a popular acronym in today’s vernacular. However, YOLO is not in the scriptures. 

“Instead, we see ‘Yea wo’: ‘Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God … Yea, wo unto him that shall say, ‘Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us,’” Brother Wilcox said, quoting 2 Nephi 28:7, 26

For those who believe they can wait to repent until the spirit world, Brother Wilcox pointed to Amulek’s teaching: “that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world” (Alma 34:32-33).

Continued opportunity for repentance doesn’t bring a change of heart, Brother Wilcox emphasized. That change comes from Jesus Christ and His Atonement — “and the sooner we can get started in that process … the better off we are.”

“God’s work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life,” he said. “And it’s time that we are about our Father’s business. Repentance matters. Change matters. And there is a hurry.”

Gather Israel

President Russell M. Nelson told youth in a worldwide devotional in 2018 that the Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel. “That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty,” the Prophet said. 

The gathering of Israel is about preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Brother Wilcox noted. “We gather Israel as we live the gospel, care for those in need, invite others to receive the gospel, and unite families for eternity.”

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during an Ensign College devotional on Oct. 12, 2021, in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.
Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during an Ensign College devotional on Oct. 12, 2021, in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Credit: Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

He invited young single adults to visit FSYcounselor.ChurchofJesusChrist.org and learn more about being a counselor at a For the Strength of Youth conference. Youth of nearly 900 stakes across North America will participate in FSY summer 2022.

“The work of salvation and exaltation matters. Preparing for the Second Coming matters. And there is a hurry,” he said. 

Brother Wilcox concluded by encouraging students to not postpone activity or service in the Church until they get through school and settle down. “As Stephen R. Covey and Jon Huntsman Sr. taught, if you wait until you are rich enough, talented enough or have enough free time to make a difference, you probably never will. Seek the help of the Lord, and do it now.  

“With all my heart, I testify that education matters. Repentance matters. The gathering of Israel matters. And in each case, there is a hurry.”