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Your Faith Is Your Greatest Asset

Paul Lambert
October 24, 2023 11:15 AM

"In all of those choices, the most important thing we need to remember is to put our Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the covenants we make with them, first. It is only when we are aligned with them–in a covenantal relationship with them–that true peace is found, that the “things” we truly need, as the Savior promises in this verse, will be added unto us."
Thank you to that wonderful Ensign choir and thank you also to Brother Coffee for your testimony and wonderful example. Brothers and sisters, I’m grateful for the invitation to be here today and I’m grateful that you are here, too. I’ve been praying for you and me in anticipation of our time together, and my prayer continues that we can learn and grow together as I speak. 

A few decades ago, I was an undergraduate student at BYU. As you can see from this photo capturing my dad and me on my first day at BYU, I apparently thought all I needed for college was two reams of paper, some trail mix, and lots of fruit snacks. I trust you all came to Ensign College more prepared.

But despite my lack of preparation, BYU was where I learned one of the most important lessons of my life that has blessed me in immeasurable ways. 

In one of my humanities classes, while studying the history, culture, beliefs, and practices of other peoples, I started to think about the Savior and how one of his crowning characteristics is his ability to fully understand us. It is because he understands me fully that he can succor me fully, that he can atone for me, and through him, I can become whole. 

As I reflected on this in the context of my studies, I came to the realization that my efforts to understand others through my coursework was one way I could emulate or be more like the Savior. 

With this new perspective, I started to see my faith in Christ and my educational endeavors as one in the same. School was no longer about grades or a means to a career. It was about being more like the Savior. My faith and education were no longer separate influences or compartmentalized parts of my life. Quite the opposite. My faith became the greatest asset in my learning and in my life.

And that is my message today. Your faith is your greatest asset! And by asset, I mean a strength, a tool, a characteristic, a thing of great value to be used. Your faith is not tangential, parallel, separate, or compartmentalized from anything else in your life, or at least it shouldn’t be! You don’t need to apologize for it, learn in spite of it, and set it aside.

You need to embrace it! And that starts right now with your educational pursuits. As President Eyring taught, and as President Kusch quoted here just a few months ago, “the sacrifice of students [...] to learn [...] is immeasurably more likely to bear fruit if the student [is] bathed in the light of Christ.”

To help us understand why this is true, why our faith is our greatest asset in all aspects of our lives, including our educational and professional pursuits, I want to share three truths with you today.

● First, the world needs your faith and the faith of your neighbor.

● Second, true success in all endeavors is being aligned with our Heavenly Father’s will.

● And third, if we allow them, Heavenly Father and the Savior will direct us in all things.

The world needs your faith. It also needs the faith of your neighbor.

As was mentioned in my introductory biography, I represent the Wheatley Institute at Brigham Young University. At the Wheatley Institute, as striving disciples of Christ, we focus on three core institutions of society: religion, the family, and constitutional government. 

We believe, and as our church leaders have taught, including President Oaks and Elder Gilbert from this Ensign College pulpit only one year ago, that it is upon these core institutions that the necessary ingredients of individual and societal flourishing, such as agency, accountability, and charity, are built. 

Specific to religion, we look closely, through rigorous research, at how religion, including religious institutions and religious identity, influences society from many different angles. For example, we look at how religious influence impacts mental health, including the mental health of college students like you. Did you know that mental health challenges are decreased for students who study at religiously-based schools? Did you know that marriages and family ties are stronger among those that engage in religious practice at home? These are important findings about the role and power of faith in our society, regardless of what religious practice we are talking about. 

In short, we study the role of religion in society because religion really matters in all aspects of society, just as it matters in all aspects of your own personal life. To demonstrate this, I’ll share a few findings from the role of religious accommodation in the workplace, an area I’ve been fortunate to study and work on. 

You might be asking yourself, what does my religious identity have to do with the workplace. The answer: Everything! 

Let me start by showing you an interesting finding from a 2022 study from the McKinsey Health Institute. 

The study sought to understand what constitutes a healthy individual. In the context of business, understanding what makes a healthy individual means understanding what makes a healthy, fully contributing employee. This should make sense to all of us. When we are healthy, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we are more prepared to contribute to whatever it is we are doing. When we experience a deficit in any of those areas, we become limited in our ability to bring our full potential to the given task. 

In their study on health, McKinsey found that our spiritual health is a major component of healthy individuals, along with physical, mental, and social components. In fact, respondents to their research said that “spiritual health was listed by the majority, across high-, middle-, and low-income countries, as “extremely” or “very important”” to their health. 

Similarly, many other studies demonstrate the health-related benefits of religious affiliation and worship, including lower rates of depression, suicide, addiction, and isolation, and higher rates of well-being in terms of positive emotions, social connections, and community engagement. 

And other studies show that employees in faith-friendly organizations have higher job satisfaction, better productivity, and less turnover. 

In short, faith and belief matter to people, and people matter to the success of any workplace. 

Let me share an example that demonstrates this point. Several years ago, I was asked to consult a large, global firm on religious diversity in the workplace. As part of that assignment, I met with managers in this company’s Manhattan office to discuss religious identity and how we can be more accommodating of religious diversity among colleagues and customers. Sometime later, one of those managers related the following: 

“I lead a team of 15. We are together constantly and have developed a strong rapport. After the training on how important faith and belief identity can be to people, I realized I had never broached this subject with our team, and decided to raise it with them. I told them that I wanted to create as accommodating an environment as possible, including in regard to their faith or belief. Noting that it wasn’t required, I invited them to share anything about their faith that was important to them and would help us better understand and support them. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was amazed at the response. All of our team members jumped at the chance to share and were so eager to learn about this aspect of our team members’ lives. We went from a great team to an outstanding team. It opened up a whole new level of trust and communication. We better understood each other and were better positioned to support each other. And, best of all for the company, we became an even more effective team.”

 Isn’t that wonderful and encouraging?! This team learned the benefits of welcoming the whole person, including one’s faith, into a workplace.

Compartmentalizing our faith or checking it at the door when we go to work, or engage in our communities and families, means leaving a major part of who we are out of what we have to offer. And when we ask others to check their faith at the door, we are also prohibiting them from fully contributing.

Just a month ago, President Russell M. Nelson invited us to “think celestial!” in all aspects of our lives, including our professions.

He shared, “Decades ago, a professional colleague criticized me for having “too much temple” in me [...]. I am convinced, however, that thinking celestial enhanced my career.”

Brother and sisters, I know you want to contribute to the world around you. Your being here seeking an education is testament of that.

Please remember the following truth. The best student, professional, spouse, parent, or citizen you can be is the best disciple of Christ that you can be.

Let me repeat that. The best student, professional, spouse, parent, or citizen you can be is the best disciple of Christ that you can be.

Why? Because that is who you truly are. You are a disciple of Jesus Christ, and you are more with him than without him. Your faith is your greatest asset.

And please know this truth holds true for your colleague or neighbor of a different faith. For a Muslim colleague, the best professional they can be is the best Muslim that they can be, and it is your opportunity to help create an environment where they and you can flourish together.

Brothers and sisters, the world needs the influence of your and your neighbor’s faith, from making our professional organizations better to helping families and individuals live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Let me now transition from talking about why the world needs your faith to why you need your faith by addressing the second truth: True success in all endeavors is being aligned with our Heavenly Father’s will.

In the book of Matthew, we read the powerful admonition from the Savior,

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” In this verse, the “things” the Lord is referring to are our needs. You and I both know we need things. Our Heavenly Father and the Savior also know we need these things. The difference between their knowing of our needs and our own knowing of our needs is that they understand exactly what we need, when we need it, and why we need it. They have the bigger picture that we lack. The power of this admonition is that if we put them first, if we develop a personal relationship with them through covenants, they have promised that they will always provide what we truly need when we truly need it, and for the right reasons.

Heavenly Father has provided us with the sacred gift of agency in this life, and with that agency, we have the ability to make choices, such as what paths we will take, what disciplines we will study, or what careers we will pursue. In all of those choices, the most important thing we need to remember is to put our Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the covenants we make with them, first. It is only when we are aligned with them–in a covenantal relationship with them–that true peace is found, that the “things” we truly need, as the Savior promises in this verse, will be added unto us.

A number of years ago, I was facing a very difficult situation in my professional life. Over the course of several years, I prayed daily for guidance and direction on how to handle the situation and for help in how to change the circumstances I was in. I tried to live the best I could to be receptive to promptings that would help me understand what to do. But the challenges persisted. One day, several years into this challenge, while sitting in sacrament meeting with this situation in the back of my mind, I received a clear and unmistakable impression from the Holy Ghost, as if a voice was speaking to my mind and heart. It said, “Paul, I hear you. I know what you seek. I need you to know that I love you and I am with you, but I am not here to answer your questions right now.”

I will admit that for a moment, I felt disappointed. I felt that my efforts were worthy, that my pleadings for an answer were sincere. Why wasn’t I receiving the answer that I needed? Of course, upon further reflection, I realized that I did receive the answer I needed. I received an answer so much more important than a solution to my professional challenges. I received a message that the Lord was with me and I was with him, that he was aware of me, and that he loved me. Through that experience, the Lord taught me that the most important thing in my life was being aligned with him, to be in a covenantal relationship with him, regardless of whether things seemed to be going well or falling apart. He was reminding me that he was in control, and the most important thing I needed to do is continue to align myself with him and he would provide what I truly needed.

That professional challenge has since been resolved, but the lesson I learned that day remains powerfully planted in my heart and mind.

So, how do we align ourselves with Heavenly Father and the Savior? How do we build a relationship with him? To answer this question, we can again turn to our beloved prophet, President Nelson, who has taught us recently to let God prevail in our lives.

His inspired questions help us understand what it means to align ourselves with and prioritize our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He asks:

● Are you willing to let God prevail in your life?

● Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life?

● Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day?

● Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other?

● Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition?

● Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?”

I hope our answer to each of these powerful questions is a resounding, “YES!”

But please remember and be prepared: letting God prevail will sometimes mean that we experience bountiful prosperity in our professional or personal lives, much like the account we read of in Fourth Nephi in the Book of Mormon where all prospered, were unified, and filled with love for one another. It may also mean, however, that we will sometimes experience deep disappointments or challenges like the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail.

So, in these peaks of joy and valleys of sorrow, when the future seems exceedingly bright or foggy and dark, where do you want to be? Where do you need to be?

I testify that there is only one place to be, and that is aligned with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. With them, there is safety, promise, clarity and peace. Without them, promise is broken, safety turns to fear, and clarity and peace turn to confusion and unease.

If you will allow your faith to be your greatest asset, you can trust that wherever your personal journey leads you, you will be on the right path because you’ll be aligned with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Aligning ourselves with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ leads us to the third truth I want to discuss today. That is, if we allow them, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can direct us in all things.

Each of you is a precious child of God and he wants you and everyone around you to return to him. That is why he sent his Son, the Savior Jesus Christ, with the specific mission to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [every one of us].” Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ care about every aspect of your life because they see every aspect of your life as an opportunity for you to grow closer to them.

Because he wants every experience in your life to be a means of helping you grow, Heavenly Father has provided powerful promises and gifts to help you. Consider some of these promises and invitations that apply to all your life:

In Matthew, we read the words of Jesus:

a Ask , and it shall be b given you; c seek , and ye shall find; d knock , and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that a seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

In Proverbs, we are invited to:

a Trust in the Lord with all thine b heart ; and lean not unto thine c own d understanding . In all thy ways a acknowledge him, and he shall b direct thy c paths .”

And again from the Savior in his visit to the Nephites:

“Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will a come unto me ye shall have b eternal life . Behold, mine c arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.”

What incredible promises and invitations! Can you see how these invitations can apply in your life? If you are struggling with a challenge in school or at work, can you see how asking or trusting in the Lord can bring clarity to the path you should take? If you are struggling with self-worth, can you see how coming unto the Lord’s extended arm of mercy, one step at a time, can rescue you?

I testify to you that these promises are real. They have blessed my life immeasurably and I know they can bless yours as well.

In addition to these wonderful promises and invitations from the Lord, we have also been given the gift of the Holy Ghost. This precious gift has been given to you for the purpose of recognizing truth and leading you in all things. And please don’t be mistaken, this is not a gift that only applies to our “church lives” or “church things.” This is a gift for all aspects of your life: your education, your work, your home life, your social life, everything you do.

In 2 Nephi 32, we read, “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will a show unto you all things what ye should do.”

My friends, all things mean all things! And it isn’t this one verse that teaches us this important truth.

During the Last Supper the Savior spoke to his apostles about the role of the Holy Ghost:

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

And in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni teaches that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

The scriptures are clear that the Lord wants to be part of all things in your life and mine. He wants to direct and accompany you in your learning, your work, in your relationships, in your ups and down and everything in between.

And as he asks us to act of our own will and do all we can within our power, he also promises to help us as we exercise our faith in Him. He can help us discover truth and find answers when we need them. He asks us to call upon him and recognize his hand in all things because he loves us and knows we need his guidance and direction.

I turn again to our prophet, President Nelson, who serves as a wonderful example of someone that allows God to lead him in all things. Years before his call to be an apostle, then Dr. Nelson faced the daunting task of fixing a failing heart valve for which there was no existing protocol or procedure. Feeling moved by the Spirit to proceed with the operation, he prepared the best he could, but not being able to rely on existing practice and despite his expert training, he simply did now know what to do. As the day of the operation came, he again pled with Heavenly Father to help him know what to do. I now quote from President Nelson’s recounting of this experience:

As the operation commenced, my assistant asked, “What are you going to do for that?”

I said, “I do not know.”

We began the operation. [...] We found [the heart valve] to be intact but so badly dilated that it could no longer function as it should. While examining this valve, a message was distinctly impressed upon my mind: Reduce the circumference of the ring. I announced that message to my assistant. “The valve tissue will be sufficient if we can effectively reduce the ring toward its normal size.”

But how? We could not apply a belt as one would use to tighten the waist of oversized trousers. [...] Then a picture came vividly to my mind, showing how stitches could be placed—to make a pleat here and a tuck there—to accomplish the desired objective. I still remember that mental image—complete with dotted lines where sutures should be placed. The repair was completed as diagrammed in my mind. We tested the valve and found the leak to be reduced remarkably. My assistant said, “It’s a miracle.”

I responded, “It’s an answer to prayer.””

President Nelson saw his faith in the Lord as his greatest asset and used that faith in his work.

Brothers and sisters, we, too, can receive guidance in our lives, in our education, in our professions, in our relationships, in all things. Note that my story and President Nelson’s story represent very different ways that the Lord guides and reveals truth. The most important thing to recognize is that he does guide and does reveal.

Please remember the marvelous invitations and gifts given to you as disciples of Christ and allow the Lord to direct you in all things. You are always better off with the Lord than without him.

As I conclude my message today, please consider the pivotal moment at present in your life. The choices you make now will have a powerful impact on the rest of your life. Please lean in to your faith in Jesus Christ. As President Eyring so powerfully taught,

“When you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning, and you will be motivated to work harder. You will recognize later that your power to serve was increased [...] When we put God’s purposes first, He will give us miracles.”

Each of you is a child of God, a striving disciple of Christ. You are covenant keepers. It is that identity, that exercised faith, and those covenants that are your greatest asset.

As you continue on the path ahead (education, profession, family), remember that the world needs your faith and the faith of your neighbor.

Remember that wherever your path leads, the best and only place to be is aligned with the will of God.

And remember that the Lord wants to guide you and has given you tools to help you in ALL things.

I testify that our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ can direct us in ALL things. I testify that Christ is our Savior, and that his arms are ever open to us if we will just come.

May our Heavenly Father bless each of you in your worthy endeavors and may you feel of his deep, ever faithful, and abounding love is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

About the Speaker

Paul Lambert

Paul W. Lambert is a national expert on religious pluralism in society. He has worked extensively with global businesses on accommodating religious belief in the workplace. He currently serves as the Director of the Religion Initiative at Brigham Young University's Wheatley Institute, where he is responsible for engaging students, scholars, thought leaders, and the public in research-supported work that fortifies the core institution of religion in society. He is also a faculty member at BYU’s Marriott School of Business. 

Brother Lambert spent most of his growing up years in Paradise Valley, Arizona, before attending Brigham Young University for his undergraduate education. Following BYU, he attended Tufts University where he earned his masters and Georgetown University for his doctorate. 

Brother Lambert served a mission in the Chile, Concepcion mission and has since served in many capacities in the Church, including mission leader, bishop, and stake presidency member. He is currently a youth Sunday School teacher his ward. 

He and his wife, Joelle Lambert, have three children.
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