Skips to main content

Because He Knows, Living My Spiritual 80/20 Rule

President Bruce C. Kusch Ensign College President
Alynda Kusch
September 13, 2022 11:15 AM

""Brothers and sisters, the purpose of my message this morning is to encourage you to seek solutions to your questions, your worries, your uncertainties, and even your doubts from authentic and reliable sources – from those who know – and to trust them, and to believe them...""
— President Bruce C. Kusch
""It is essential that we remember the Savior and His power, grace, love, and friendship. When we are in the midst of confusion or despair, when it seems as though the heavens are closed, there is power in remembering what the Lord has done for us in the past, so that we can trust in what He can and will do now and in the future.""
— Alynda Kusch

Because He Knows

By President Bruce C. Kusch
A few weeks ago, one of the USB ports in my car stopped working. And it wasn’t just any USB port, it was THE USB port where I plug in my phone. It is through THIS port I get access to maps, driving directions, to the music I listen to, and to phone calls I need to make and not text messages that I need to send while I’m driving. My son and I were going to be taking a little road trip in a few days and it was essential that I had a working USB port.

I made an appointment to take my car to the dealer so I could get the problem fixed. I arrived and explained the problem to the service representative. He looked inside my car, saw where the USB ports were and said, “I don’t think it’s the USB port, it’s the cable.” I promptly replied, “I don’t think so.” He asked how long I had been using the cable connected to the port that I use. “Awhile” was my response. “And the connection to your phone just stopped working?” “Yes.” “It’s the cable” was his response. As I was just about to say again, “I don’t think so,” he said, “would it be OK if I get a cable and test the port?” I said “sure” – really hoping it wasn’t the cable after being so stubborn.

He explained that if you don’t use the correct cable – one made by the manufacturer of the phone or an approved supplier – you will eventually have connection problems – that rarely is the problem a bad USB port. I had tried another cable with the same result – but it was not from an approved supplier.

He unplugged my cable, plugged in his cable and my phone. Everything worked perfectly. He looked at me and I said, “It’s the cable!” I left the dealership and immediately purchased a new cable– from a correct source – and my phone began working perfectly and continues to do so.

Now, I took several lessons from this experience..

Lesson 1: using resources – in this case, a cable – that is not from a reliable and authentic source – can lead to disappointment and frustration. I thought the cable I was using was authentic, but in the end, it was not.

Lesson 2: in my stubbornness I leaned unto my own understanding and thought myself wise in my own eyes. [1] I was completely wrong is doing so.

Lesson 3: trusting an unreliable source can cause you to completely overlook the simple solution of seeking help from and believing one who knows.

Lesson 4: As I saw the result of using an authentic and reliable cable, I trusted the information from the service representative, because he knew – and I did not.

Brothers and sisters, the purpose of my message this morning is to encourage you to seek solutions to your questions, your worries, your uncertainties, and even your doubts from authentic and reliable sources – from those who know – and to trust them, and to believe them, even if your response to the doctrines and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might initially be “I don’t think so.”

There are innumerable voices competing for our time and attention every day that seek to influence what we watch, what we listen to, what we purchase, what we wear, what we think, and how we act. In the end, there are only two voices: the voice of the Good Shepherd who is constant in calling out to us [2] and the voice of the adversary who is unceasing in seeking to represent good as evil, and evil as good. President Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Clark Gilbert spoke about this, standing at this very pulpit, last May in an Ensign College devotional. Citing the example of Korihor and his initial success in leading many astray with his flattery and constant bullying of the believers in Christ, Elder Gilbert reminded us of Korihor’s eventual demise and confession that “...the devil hath deceived me.” [3]

I have come to know, with a sure knowledge that following the teachings of living prophets, trusting them, and believing them helps us to respond to the unified voice of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as they invite us to follow Them and live with faith centered in and on Them

You will remember these six penetrating questions that President Russell M. Nelson asked each of us to consider in the October 2020 General Conference: “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?” [4]

There are two key words in these six questions: willing and allow. They suggest humility and a willingness to live a life of faith in Jesus Christ and His everlasting gospel. Speaking at the recent BYU Education Week, Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “We cannot expect to have faith at the center of our lives if all our efforts are expended on knowledge, sports, hobbies, making money or other pursuits.” [5]

Someone may say, “When I know the Church is true and when all my doubts are resolved, then I will let God prevail in my life.” Brothers and sisters, that is a dangerous road to travel because it suggests that person may still be listening to voices whose only intent is to deceive and to create doubt.

Just yesterday in visiting with a new friend about testimonies, he shared this wise thought, “I don’t need to know everything to believe.” What an inspired perspective. Brothers and sisters, my invitation to you is this: if you don’t know now, or if you have doubts, do not wait until those questions and doubts are resolved before allowing God to prevail in your life. Start now. Let God prevail, and I promise you will come to know. There is no better pattern to follow than Alma’s invitation to those who sought him out on the hill Onidah, as recorded in Alma 32. It begins with a sincere desire to believe accompanied by a willingness to listen to prophetic counsel.

Many years ago, while on a trip to Brazil with two colleagues from Brigham Young University–Idaho, we had the opportunity to spend several days in the Amazon Jungle on the Rio Negro. The river is enormous beyond imagination, and the vegetation in the jungle is very thick. One day we arranged to hike into the jungle. Venturing into it without a guide would be foolish as one could very easily lose their way. Interestingly, our guide, Moreno, was a native of Italy. He knew the jungle and the river well. He was then in his late 30s and was living his childhood dream of living in the Amazon Jungle.

Our small group boarded a canoe docked at our floating hotel and we departed for the starting point of our hike. We were fascinated by what we saw and impressed by Moreno’s deep knowledge and his ability to lead us through the thick and imposing bush. As we walked he would explain the various plants, animals, insects, and vegetation that surrounded us. He taught us which ones could be harmful if we were not careful. He also pointed out various plants that the native Amazon Indians had used for medicinal or other useful purposes. Deeper and deeper into the jungle we went. We had absolutely no idea where we were going and we had no idea where we were or where our canoe was. We merely followed Moreno and trusted him because we knew that he would get us safely back to our canoe and eventually to our hotel.

At one point, Moreno stopped the group, and we all gathered around him. “This jungle is hot and humid,” he said. “We are at least a mile from the river and a person cannot live here without water. You would die quickly. But there is water right here, right now, exactly where we are. Can any of you see it?”

None of us could see anything that resembled water. We saw trees, vines, and shrubs and a lot of mosquitoes. They were everywhere, but there was no sign of water and we had any idea where it might be.

With a smile on his face, Moreno said, “Let me show you.” He grabbed a very large machete and walked to a vine, lightly covered with green velvet moss and after two quick swings, he was holding a piece of the vine in his hand. We still didn’t understand.

“Water is right here,” he said, “right in my hand.” Just then he lifted the vine vertically and clear, cool water came dripping out! We were all amazed. As we looked around, we could now see similar vines everywhere. Some were large, others small. But once we were taught by one who knew, we saw that in this jungle there was an abundance of water. We each took turns drinking from the vine. As we hiked back to our canoe, we continued to see that water was everywhere. Now we knew where to look.

I have since thought about this experience in relationship to the true vine, living water and following one who knows. In John 15:1 , Jesus teaches us that He is the true vine and His Father is the husbandman. In 1 Nephi 15:15 , we read Nephi’s prophetic teachings to his unbelieving brethren regarding the remnant of Lehi’s seed: “Yea, at that day, will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine?” In John 4:14 , the Savior teaches a woman of Samaria that He is the one who gives living water: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” As we read about what Nephi saw in vision in 1 Nephi 11:25 , we also learn of the “fountain of living waters, … which waters are a representation of the love of God.”

We trusted and followed Moreno because we knew that he knew. He could see things that we initially could not because we did not know. But in those few moments we came to see that life-sustaining water was everywhere – we just had to follow the instructions of one who knew.

I testify that living prophets know – especially President Russell M. Nelson. He is the Lord’s ordained prophet to speak “...the will of the Lord...the mind of the Lord...the word of the Lord...and the voice of the Lord.” [6] I want to you to know that I know – with no doubt whatsoever – that when we take the words of living prophets as our guide, the Lord will do more with our efforts than we could ever do on our own. I choose to follow President Nelson because I know he knows. And I will choose to follow prophets, seers, and revelators as long I live.

Let me share a few recent prophetic teachings that could be of benefit today.

On Wednesday, August 24, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Clark G. Gilbert, and President Camille N. Johnson spoke to over 6,000 seminary students who gathered in the Bountiful Regional Center and in church buildings throughout Davis County. Elder Holland said, “The principal advantage we have over you this morning, if we have any at all, is that we’ve been your age and you’ve never been ours.” His basic plea was “please listen to us, because of our experience and because we know.” [7]

Elder Christofferson spoke of the gift of sight and quoted Psalm 25:15, “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord.” He said, “If that’s the focus of your life, of your vision, how you use your eyes and your sight, then you’ll have the guidance, the light, the help, the blessings that you need. This gift can be used for good or ill. What will you do with this marvelous gift of sight? I hope that you’ll spend plenty of time occupying this wonderful gift in learning and understanding and searching the scriptures. I hope you’ll exercise the discipline to turn away your sight, your vision, your eyes, from that which demeans, that which detracts from the Spirit, that which darkens instead of enlightens.” [8]

Brothers and sisters, as I said a few minutes ago, there are holy voices which lead us to Christ, and there are other voices that would lead us away from Him. With all the power of inspired persuasion I possess I invite you to consider what things there are in your life that detract from the Spirit, that are filled with darkness and not filled with light. I am not going to give you a list, but I am going to suggest a question. It will be essential that you approach Heavenly Father in prayer with a “...sincere heart and with real intent” [9] and with courage and resolve. This is the question: “Heavenly Father, what are the things in my life that detract from and are offensive to the Spirit that I should change?” After you ask the question, don’t be in a hurry to get off your knees. Spend some time listening to recording the impressions that come – and then follow the impressions. That will be a sign between you and God that you value what He knows that He wants you want to know. Remember that “...the object of prayer secure for ourselves...blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.” [10]

As I conclude my remarks this morning I want to share some things that President Oaks taught during the May devotional. He encouraged all of us to stay anchored in Jesus Christ and said, “I plead with each of you not to seek happiness in the glittering temptations and attraction of the world. Wickedness can never lead to lasting happiness and eternal joy.” He then quoted President Nelson who has said: “My dear brothers and sisters, these are the latter days. If you and I are to withstand the forthcoming perils and pressures, it is imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer.” As President Nelson has counseled we do this by finding time to set yourself apart from the world; through temple attendance, study of the scriptures, being covenant-keepers, and holy Sabbath day observance. These all sound familiar, don’t they? Why would prophets continuously remind us of the importance of doing these things? It is because they know. And it is because it is their responsibility to teach, testify and lead us to Christ.

As he concluded, President Oaks said, “I am one who has been called to testify of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world. This is more than to testify of Christ, which all of us are to do because we have received the gift of the Holy Ghost whose mission is to testify of the Father and the Son. To testify of the name of Jesus Christ includes the added responsibility to testify of His work, His Atonement, His great mission to be the light and life of the world and to testify of the restored gospel, which contains the teaching of the destiny that God, our Eternal Father, has established for each of us as His children including all who will become adopted into the covenant and promises of ancient Israel.”

So, brothers and sisters, may we seek the truth from those who know. May we have humble, believing hearts, and a willingness to know. May we be willing to allow God to prevail in our lives before we know, but also because we know. And may we recognize the 15 prophets, seers, and revelators who know, who have been ordained to know and testify of God and Jesus Christ – whom we follow, because THEY know.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Proverbs 3:5,7
2 Alma 5:38
3 Alma 30:53
4 Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Liahona, November 2022
5 Quentin L. Cook, BYU Education Week
6 D&C 68:4
7 The Church News, 25 August 2022
8 Ibid
9Moroni 10:4
10“Prayer,” Bible Dictionary, p. 707

Living My Spiritual 80/20 Rule

By Alynda Kusch
As I sat waiting for devotional to start, it was wonderful to see you and it was wonderful to hear you. There is happiness and joy and we welcome you back. It’s so wonderful to be with you this morning.

There is a program on the History Channel that President Kusch and I enjoy watching. The premise of the show is that a group of survival experts are dropped off in different locations in a remote wilderness area where they will live completely alone, disconnected in every way from their previous life. 

From the 10 items they are permitted to bring with them, and using anything else they find at their site, they are left to build a shelter that will protect them from the rain and snow. They hunt and trap and fish and forage for food, while they deal with local predatory animals. The person who remains the longest wins a substantial amount of money.

As the last complete season was ending and there were only 3 contestants left, snow covered the ground, the rivers had frozen over, and food was becoming very scarce.

As you can imagine, without sufficient calories to sustain them, each contestant was growing more and more lethargic, some with barely the energy to get out of their sleeping bags during the day.

One of the last remaining contestants, a young man named Juan Pablo, decided that his best course of action was to simply quit eating and that way his body would not crave food and he would not be hungry. He said, “I only have to starve for 2 more weeks.”

Juan Pablo shared his strategy. He explained that since he lacked the energy to do many things, he was going to live the 80/20 rule. He added that he had been spending 80% of his energy doing things that were yielding nothing and he was simply beyond exhausted.

Now he was going to calculate which activities were the most important, and that is what he was going to do. For Juan Pablo, he was going to focus on getting water because water was the most important thing for his survival.

I have thought a lot about Juan Pablo’s 80/20 rule and how it applies to me. When I have considered this rule and my own spirituality, I have asked myself, “Am I doing the essential things that will draw me closer to the Lord, or am I wasting my spiritual energy?”

As we think about our spiritual survival, we should be looking at things the same way that Juan Pablo did about his physical survival in the rugged and frozen wilderness of Labrador, Canada.

Just as he and the other contestants needed basic knowledge of the survival skills required to live in Labrador, for us to spiritually survive and thrive, there are essential things to know and there are essential things to do.

The three essential spiritual truths that we must know, and believe, and remember were taught by President Nelson on May 15th when he spoke to you at the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults. They will sound familiar because we have recited them and sung about them since we were children. President Nelson himself has talked about each of them.

Truth number 1:

You are a child of God

Think about the number of times you have sung these words.

“I am a child of God, and He has sent me here. I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store.” (LDS Hymn 301)

The Young Women’s theme begins: “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and destiny.” 

The Aaronic Priesthood theme begins in a similar fashion: “I am a beloved son of God, and He has a work for me to do.”

Can you see why the youth of the Church stand and recite these important truths when they meet together? And can you understand why these are some of the first words we teach our little children? Knowing and trusting who we are will help you make important choices. I hope that as you have both sung and recited these words, they continue to ring true in your heart and you know who you really are.

Truth number 2:

You are a child of the covenant

As I heard President Nelson use this phrase, I thought of all that being a child of the covenant means. We have eternal covenants because the ancient Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. We have the privilege of making sacred covenants at baptism and in the temple because the Priesthood of God is again given to men. Because of these two truths, we have living prophets who help us navigate often dangerous roads. May we live with gratitude for what has been restored so that we can enjoy the blessings of living a covenant life.

Truth Number 3:

You are a disciple of Jesus Christ

In a Facebook post from 2017 President Nelson said this: “True disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to stand out, speak up, and be different from the people of the world. They are undaunted, devoted, and courageous.”

Our Primary children sing, “I’m trying to be like Jesus, I’m following in His ways.”

Again, from the Young Women’s theme: “As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to be like Him. I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.”

And again from the Aaronic Priesthood theme: “With all my heart, might, mind, and strength, I will love God, keep my covenants, and use His priesthood to serve others.”

At Ensign College our mission is to develop capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ.

Followers, believers, devoted doers.

There is great power in this simple declaration of truth - I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

As our beloved prophet declared, these are the essential truths that we must know and love and remember.

When we hold these eternal truths as ours, and have them deep in our hearts and souls, they become the foundation for all we are and all we do and all we can become. 

If these are the essential things to know, what are the essential things to do? Juan Pablo had to build a shelter using the tarp he had brought with him along with items he found in the area; logs, rocks, dirt he turned into clay, tree branches and other items that helped him create the strong bones of his dwelling as well as a covering that would stay off the rain and snow. This shelter was essential because it would protect him from the elements and the predators.

In a similar way I mention fasting, prayer, scripture study, temple attendance, institute - all are important things because they help build the bones of our testimony. This testimony provides the foundation for what we are willing to do to live as the Savior lived and to become like Him.

I would like to share 4 of my essential truths that have proven valuable to me as I strive to be a better believer and follower.

The first essential is this:

Choose the way of truth. 

Our agency is one of the greatest gifts we have been given from our Heavenly Father, and it is up to us to use it wisely. Following after truth is a choice. In his talk from April conference, “Steady in the Storms,” President Eyring reminded us of this truth; “We are free to choose between right and wrong (but) we cannot avoid the consequences of our choices.” The consequence of choosing to follow after truth is safety, the influence of the Holy Ghost, spiritual power. Choosing is the key. Choose the way of truth and let that choice guide your steps.

The second essential for me is mentioned in Psalms 57, 108 and 112. In these three Psalms we read the phrase have “a fixed heart.”

In English there are two meanings to the word fixed. The first refers to something that has been repaired. A spiritual heart has been repaired through our personal repentance through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We have a great opportunity to evaluate the condition of our heart each week as we partake of the Sacrament.

We can continually work at fixing our spiritual heart. A heart that has been fixed by repentance bears testimony of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. The second meaning of the word fixed, is to be focused on. We need a heart that is focused on Jesus Christ and His friendship and His redeeming grace. With our heart focused on Him, we can more easily be guided and molded into what He knows we can become.

So, do the work that is required to have a repaired or fixed heart and choose to focus, or fix, your heart on the Savior.

My third essential is something we hear each week in the Sacrament prayers. “They are willing.”

We do not need to be perfect, but we do need to develop our natures so that we want to follow and obey. You can ask the Lord for help with this essential if it is difficult for you. Choose to be willing and see what the Lord can do.

My fourth essential is found in Psalms 112:6.

“The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.”

The scriptures speak often of the importance of remembering. With this verse though there is a dual meaning – as we strive to be righteous, we can be everlastingly remembered by our Lord and Savior because of our efforts to everlastingly remember Him.

It is essential that we remember the Savior and His power, grace, love, and friendship. When we are in the midst of confusion or despair, when it seems as though the heavens are closed, there is power in remembering what the Lord has done for us in the past, so that we can trust in what He can and will do now and in the future.

May we be in everlasting remembrance.

The 80/20 rule became essential for Juan Pablo - focusing on the most important things that would yield him the greatest reward. After 78 days alone in the freezing cold, with little food, Juan Pablo was victorious, lasting longer than any other competitor and winning the prize.

I pray that we will live the spiritual 80/20 rule; doing the most important things that will yield the greatest spiritual benefit. Our happiness depends on it and God will help you as you determine your own priorities. Of that I am certain. Let us be spiritually victorious by focusing on the essential truths that guide us and our essential works that change us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

About the Speakers

President and Sister Kusch

President Bruce C. Kusch

President Bruce C. Kusch became the 13th president of Ensign College on April 17, 2017. At the time of his appointment he had been serving as the Chief Academic Officer.

President Kusch began his academic career at BYU-Idaho in August 2002 as a member of the faculty of the Business Management department. In July 2008 he was appointed Associate Academic Vice President for Curriculum, serving in that role until June 2012 when he and Sister Kusch were called to preside over the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission.

Prior to joining the BYU-Idaho faculty, President Kusch worked in the high technology industry in Silicon Valley, CA in various sales, marketing, general management, and consulting roles. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix, an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management, and a PhD in instructional design from Idaho State University.

Alynda Kusch

Sister Alynda Kusch is a graduate of BYU-Idaho. Following her graduation, she taught Culinary Arts until she and President Kusch left for their missionary service in Mexico. If you know Sister Kusch at all, you know she is a master teacher, and master designer and creator of textile art.

Both born and raised in Southern California, President and Sister Kusch were married in the Los Angeles Temple in 1974. They are the parents of four children, and 15 grandchildren.
Close Modal