Elder Sabin shares 8 principles of peace and happiness with BYU–Idaho students

As Elder Gary B. Sabin pondered what to share with BYU–Idaho students as the featured speaker for the campus devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 9, he thought about what would have been helpful for him to know at their age. 

“It really came down to wanting to know how to be happy and how to feel joy,” he said.

Speaking from the BYU–Idaho Center on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus, with his wife, Sister Valerie Sabin, the General Authority Seventy shared eight principles that, if followed, enable individuals to enjoy peace and happiness in this world even amid the fiery darts of the adversary and the inequities of mortality.

“God our Father knows and loves His children. Because He loves us, He has provided a plan, which, if followed, will bring us the peace and happiness we seek,” Elder Sabin promised.

Principle 1: Prayer

Several years ago, the Sabins’ daughter Jennifer awoke early one morning and found her little brother Bryan crying outside their parents’ bedroom door. “Bryan, they can’t help you if you don’t knock,” she told him.

To his listeners in the BYU–Idaho Center, Elder Sabin said: “We all need to knock. We do this through childlike prayer offered with deep gratitude, love and trust in our Heavenly Father. Perfunctory prayers have little power.”

Prayers must also be followed by action, he continued. “By acting on impressions we receive, we can often be prompted to be part of the answer to our own prayers,” he said.

Students smile after the devotional with Elder Gary B. and Sister Valerie Sabin at BYU-Idaho, in Rexburg, Idaho, on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.
Students smile after the devotional with Elder Gary B. and Sister Valerie Sabin at BYU-Idaho, in Rexburg, Idaho, on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Credit: Katelyn Brown

Principle 2: Page 

Elder Sabin encouraged students to read something in the scriptures daily. “It is like a force field against the fiery darts of the adversary. We live in a world of information overload. Please take the time to fill your spiritual reservoirs.”

He then quoted President Spencer W. Kimball, who observed: “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures, the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.”

Principle 3: Ponder

Pondering unlocks revelation, Elder Sabin explained. “It does little good to pray and study if we do not then listen quietly in our hearts and minds. The Lord instructed Oliver Cowdery, ‘Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost. … Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation’ (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3)”.

Many blessings of purposeful prayer and scripture study come only after quiet pondering and reflection. “We are often so preoccupied with earthly concerns that we miss those messages from heaven that will help us the most, so take time to pause and ponder and you will be amazed at what you learn,” he said.

Principle 4: Purity

The purpose of mortality is not only to gain a body but to develop self-mastery over the body.

Elder Sabin spoke of how a rattlesnake was once able to enter his garage at the family home in Southern California through a small crack between the closed door and the ground. Elder Sabin warned listeners to seal any cracks in their lives so the adversary could not slip in. 

“None of us would feel comfortable with a rattlesnake in our garage. How about in our house, our bedroom, our backpack, pocket or our purse? We need to be very careful about what types of media we engage in and let into our minds. Much of it is far more dangerous than a rattlesnake, which can only kill the body. Eternity is at stake and purity is the lynchpin. Be pure,” he said.

Principle 5: Praise

Elder Sabin encouraged students to be unselfish and complimentary, kind and thoughtful. “You will change your own life and that of many others by giving a sincere compliment to someone every day.”

Underscoring the essential truth the Savior taught about loving one another (John 13:35), Elder Sabin said part of loving another is being forgiving and nonjudgmental. “As disciples of Christ, we are asked to trust God and not attempt to replace Him. He knows everyone perfectly and will judge them perfectly.”

Elder Gary B. Sabin speaks during a BYU-Idaho devotional on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus on Nov. 9, 2021.
Elder Gary B. Sabin speaks during a BYU-Idaho devotional on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus on Nov. 9, 2021. Credit: Rachel Schoeny

Principle 6: Pride

Elder Sabin quoted President Ezra Taft Benson, who taught, “The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. ‘What will others think of me?’ weighs heavier than ‘What will God think of me?’ … The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God and the proud let go of the iron rod. … Pride is ugly. It says, ‘If you succeed, I am a failure.’”

Beware of jealousy and envy, Elder Sabin warned. “Do not compare, but rather celebrate the success of others. Being genuinely happy for those around us is one of the true litmus tests of discipleship. The race is not against anyone else, it is against sin. The beauty of the plan of salvation is that we each decide for ourselves whether we will be exalted by the choices we make and our willingness to be humble and repentant.”

Principle 7: Perspective

Those who have an eternal perspective find it easier to be optimistic about life, Elder Sabin said. 

“Mortality is much like a university education with a variety of classes. We don’t just take P.E. and lunch, but also calculus and English and other challenging courses. We learn the most from the classes that stretch us the most.”

The Savior taught, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “What a great reason to be excited and optimistic. Eternal perspective also includes the patience to wait upon the Lord and His timing.”

Principle 8: Play

Playing together strengthens marriages and families, Elder Sabin noted. “It makes praying together much more powerful and effective. Playing is also important individually for physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.”

Elder Sabin said that preaching without playing is ineffective. “Play with your future families so that you have the moral authority of a loving and concerned parent as you teach and guide them. Your life will be far more joyful and rewarding,” he promised.

In conclusion, Elder Sabin testified that following Heavenly Father’s plan will bring peace and happiness. “This plan is made possible because of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. Of all the success formulas ever written or uttered, the most important one is when the Savior said, ‘Follow me’ (Matthew 4:19).

Sister Valerie Sabin speaks during a BYU-Idaho devotional on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus on Nov. 9, 2021.
Sister Valerie Sabin speaks during a BYU-Idaho devotional on the Rexburg, Idaho, campus on Nov. 9, 2021. Credit: Rachel Schoeny

Becoming your best self

In her remarks, Sister Sabin encouraged students to grow in all aspects of life — spiritually, socially and intellectually. 

While each individual differs in strengths and challenges, Heavenly Father understand and loves each of His children perfectly and completely. “We can each succeed in our own quest to return home to Him as we choose to let Him prevail or come first in our lives,” she assured.

Remember that personal development is important. “Only you can become who you were sent here to be. Only you occupy your unique place in life, now and in the future — as a family member, a friend, in your community, and as a contributing member of God’s restored Church,” she said.