The Lord Inspires Us Along the Way
My brothers and sisters, it’s great to be with you today—a little bit nervous for me, but hopefully I’ll make it through it. The choir is so good, and it’s nice to have a nice soothing hymn before you are called upon to speak. It calms my nerves. I was thinking during the opening hymn of the time when I was serving as a bishop. We used to have, when we were expecting that the meeting wasn’t going to last very long, we had a six-minute hymn that we would sing and see if we could take up a little of the extra time. I was disappointed to see that we only had two verses in our hymn.
I’ve thought a lot in the last few weeks, after I was asked to speak, about what I could say to you that would be of value. I think I remember those same words during graduation at the University of Utah, and I remembered the speaker saying something similar to that—that he wanted to make sure we all remembered what he had to say. And what I have remembered is that he said, “I hope you all remember what I have to say.” And I can’t think of another thing that he said. Hopefully, you might find some value in what I have prepared.
I believe the Lord directs our lives. He doesn’t live them for us. He doesn’t make us do things, but He inspires us along the way. I’d like to relate a few experiences that I’ve had throughout my life where I feel like I was inspired or where I was uninspired.
High school for me was an uninspired time. And I’m sure most of you, because you’ve graduated from high school or shown that you should have graduated from high school, my experience was much worse than that. I was a very mediocre student and could hardly wait to get out of school. Maybe some of you could relate to that. However, I wanted to go to college. I wanted to go to BYU, which may surprise a few people here.
My father inspired me to go to the University of Utah. The way he did that was he told me I didn’t have any money to go to school. We lived in Salt Lake City, and I would have to have a room down there and other food, and he said, “Brent, if you want to go to BYU, you’re welcome to, but you’re going to have to figure out how to pay for it.” So the University of Utah was close by, so I went to the University of Utah—and don’t look back on that decision. By the way, just for the record, the tuition for my first quarter at the University of Utah was $55.00. Times have changed in the last few years.
I was called to serve in the Andes Mission. Now the Andes Mission at that time took in all of Peru and all of Chile, and I don’t know how many missions there are in Chile now, but there are 12 in Peru. I felt that it was inspiration that I went there. I wanted to go on a Spanish-speaking mission. I was not disappointed, and had many great experiences there. The first branch I served in was in the town of Trujillo. When I left there seven months later, there were 34 members of the Church. Today they are building a temple there, and it will serve 88,000 and is its own mission.
The second branch I went to—there were no stakes and no wards—was [also] in Peru. I don’t remember how many were there, but it’s its own mission. The third branch I was in was in Arequipa, Peru, and they’re building a temple there now and it’s its own mission.
Brothers and sisters, the Church is growing at such a rapid rate, and it needs inspired leaders, both here and there. I believe that’s one of the reasons why you are here at LDS Business College, is to gain that inspiration that it takes to lead, to be leaders in the Church. After my mission, which by the way in those days was 2 ½ years, and they just sent you directly to the country. There was no such thing as the MTC. I went…I took the advice of my mission president, and five months after I got home, I was married. And I remember my wife and I sitting down and saying, “You know, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just make $100 a week. We could live comfortably on $100 a week.” That’s times that have changed a little bit, too.
I believe—I know—my wife’s here . . . so I’d better say I was inspired to marry. I was inspired to marry the person I married, and she has been a great support to me. And despite my hard-headedness, she has helped me every step of the way and supported me through my experience both in the Church and in my work experience. I decided that I wanted to be a career—not a politician, but a career service officer in the State Department. So I decided to take political science classes. It took me about two quarters to figure out that my political beliefs and the political beliefs of the department were very different, and I changed majors. Reality set in. We had children. And I had to find another major. Spanish seemed like an easy one for me; I’d taken it in high school for three years and served a mission. So I got a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. I can honestly say it was a good experience, and I can honestly say I’ve not used it in my own experience, except to speak to students at the College. And I miss that opportunity.
I went to work for the telephone company. My father worked there, and he helped me find a job with them. But I really believe it was an inspired decision to work there. I worked as a computer operator sorting computer cards. Now, none of you probably know what a computer card is. I should have brought one. I have a few. But that’s how we input data into the computer when I first got involved with computers. But I did a lot of on-the-job training. They taught me how to program in a language called Basic Assembler Language. And later on, at the university, I took the only computer science class that they would let me in, because I’m not a math whiz. And that was in COBOL. And some of the guys that I work with that are here will chuckle at that, because it’s a language that’s almost dead. But I believe that it was an inspired decision to go to work there because of what it’s done for my life.
Then I worked for a number of other companies, gaining experience. And finally I worked at Management Systems Corporation, that was owned by the Church, and did all the data processing for the Church. Back in those days, they didn’t call it IT, they called it data processing. And I was a programmer there and a sales person. My experience there was definitely inspired. Later, working at Bonneville Telecommunications, I worked with what were called “mini-computers.” And when they were mini-computers, they were about the size of a regular office desk. And one day my boss called me into the office and he said, “We want you to work on a project that is developing a traffic system for radio and television stations.”
Now traffic, in a radio and television environment, is the group that is involved in scheduling commercials and deciding what’s going to be played at a certain time and where the breaks are. And they said, “And you’re going to do it on a new computer that’s called a personal computer.”
I remember saying to them, “I don’t want you to give me a job working on a ‘Tinker-toy’ computer.” And they did it anyway. So for the next two years I worked around the country at the different radio and television stations that were owned by the Church, developing this traffic system. And it was amazing. The PC was in its first iteration, the first generation of personal computers. The first time we scheduled the commercials for a radio station, WRFM in New York City, it took 32 hours to schedule 24 hours worth of commercials.
Now that’s not sustainable, in case you can’t figure it out and do the math in your head there, because you can never do it. So we beefed up the computers a little bit. We threw a little more power to the processors and made them run faster and burned them up. And I remember thinking, “I wonder if the personal computer will ever get to the point where it will be able to do actual work.” I’m convinced today that, if we were to take those same programs and run them on a personal computer today, it probably could do it in its memory in a few seconds—that work that took 32 hours when we first tried it.
Well, the project finished and we installed it in a number of radio stations across the country. And then management of Bonneville International changed, and the new president decided a different approach would be taken, and he would allow the station managers to make their own decision what systems they would use, and withdrew the product from the market.
That was a very discouraging time for me, because I had spent three years working on this project and it was going downhill fast. And they offered, of course, to keep us all on working in other positions.
It was at that time that I applied at LDS Business College. And I honestly believe I was inspired to apply. I came as a teacher, a faculty member—the only person in that particular department at the time, and we taught 22 or 25 hours of classes every quarter. One day as I was walking out of the old building, which is up on South Temple, I passed by the registrar’s office, and she had a stack of floppy disks. Not many of you know what a floppy disk is, but it’s a floppy disk. And they were stacked up across the front of the counter. And I said, “Linda, what are you doing with all those floppy disks?”
And she said, “Well, every year when I go on vacation, I do a backup.”
I said, “You do a backup of all the school records once a year?”
And she said, “Yes. I figure we ought to have a backup on hand.” And it took about 80 disks to do it. She said, “It takes me a while to get them all in place.”
I walked into the president’s office and said, “President, you need a data processing department and you need some servers and things that I have learned at Bonneville International when I worked there.”
And so we proceeded with that. It was an inspired decision to do it, because it was just a short time later that somebody threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of that room and caught the room on fire. Fortunately, it didn’t burn the building down.
My point in mentioning all of this to you is I believe in inspiration. I believe the Lord guides and directs us if we will but listen. And often we don’t even have to listen. He just helps us along the way—puts things in our path that will allow us to make the decisions for ourselves.
There have been a number of decisions at the College that I feel have been inspired. And I believe this is a place where you can come to be inspired, both as a student and as a faculty member or staff member. I believe I was inspired to hire a man as an assistant, also as a teacher. And one day, after I had hired him—it was a couple of years after I had hired him—President [Kenneth H.] Beesley, the president at the time, retired. And I remember sitting in the room and in walked my assistant with his wife. And I thought, “What’s Steve [Woodhouse] doing here with his wife?” And they announced him as the new president of the College. So he went from my assistant to president of the College, and he served there admirably for, I think, 17 years. But it was an inspired decision to hire him.
It was an inspired decision to hire the staff that I’ve had over the years I’ve been here. Each one of them has brought their own benefits and abilities to the job, and have done a marvelous job. And I believe every one of them has been inspired. I believe it was inspiration that brought President Richards to the College, and it’s an inspired leadership that he has provided to us during the time that he has been here.
The Lord has had his hand in my life. He prepared me for many years in various jobs and assignments to come and work here at the College. And my experience at the College has helped me to be ready for retirement—which I am ready. Much of the technology has passed me by, and I have not been able to keep as up-to-date as I had hoped. It’s also prepared me for a mission, and we are all atwitter at my house, trying to figure out where it is that we’ll be going on our mission, whether we’ll be staying here locally or whether we’ll be going somewhere else. Hopefully, the stake president has told me, that it will come this week. So you know what that’s like. How many of you are returned missionaries and have experienced that? That’s quite a goodly number of you.
I believe the Lord has His hand in all our lives, if we will just listen. The Lord leads His people. If they show their courage and their abilities and their desire to serve, He will help them along the way.
I want to shift gears for just a moment to the College mission statement. Why is it that we exist as an institution? Let’s see by a show of hands how many of you have read the mission statement of the College? Well, I’d say that’s 60 percent, which is encouraging. I’ve got it—if I can figure out the technology—there’s a copy of the mission statement. I’d encourage you, if you’re not reading it at the moment, to read through it. It’s on the web page of the College, and it tells why we exist. And I want to look at it in terms of the amount of time that was taken, that we took to create this mission statement. I think it probably occurred over at least six months—at least six months to write those few words and come up with a decision, and then pass it on to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is made up of the First Presidency of the Church and several members of the Council of the Twelve, a couple of Seventies?—one Seventy, the Relief Society general president, and the Young Women’s general president. And they looked at this and they made their suggestions, and this is what came out. This is what we are about at LDS Business College. (The LDS Business College Mission statement is found at “About LDS Business College” at the College’s website at ldsbc.edu.)
I’d like to take the time to go through it one sentence at a time. “LDS Business College provides a distinctive educational experience rooted in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” I think to me the statements that stand out and hopefully will stand out to you is “a distinctive education experience.” It’s different than other institutions, be they Church institutions or other institutions. And it’s rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you feel that when you go to classes and you start with prayer in the classes, when instructors use gospel examples to teach whatever it is they’re teaching? I hope you do, because I know that’s the goal that we had in mind.
The second sentence: “We work together to cultivate a nurturing environment, teach practical skills, and develop confident and skillful learners.” We work together—you know, it’s been interesting for me to see how you students work with each other, even from your first day that you come for new student orientation, how you embrace each other, people that you’ve never known before, and get along with them. And if you don’t do that, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity. We have such an exciting and diverse population of student body members, and I hope that you’re enjoying that experience, because I don’t think you’ll get it in other places.
“A nurturing environment”: I hope you feel like you’re nurtured in your classes and the way your faculty members work with you. Teaching practical skills—I was reading an article just yesterday that talked about what businesses are looking for today, and it’s people that have practical skills. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t understand the theory behind things; it’s just saying that we have to be able to do things.
And “confident and skillful learners”: I hope you feel confidence as you go to your classes, and realize that learning is lifelong learning. I’d like to see, just by a show of hands, how many of you have ever been out to the linda.com websites and looked at a video. Whoa. That’s much better than I thought it was. You have a wonderful opportunity—I find it very valuable for me as I go out there to that website, and the College has paid dearly for us to have that available to you—but all through your life you can use those kinds of things, both on the Internet or taking classes, to learn skills that are going to change over a period of time. Just as my regular—my initial job when I was programming was to keypunch my own programs…now, you don’t have any idea what a keypunch is, but it’s how we recorded and put holes in a card that the computer read, 80 columns at a time. How it’s changed to today, where we scan in information and it automatically converts it and it automatically can translate into numbers and languages. What a wonderful opportunity it is for us to gain information over our lifetime, of new things and new technologies. Just as in my lifetime things have changed so dramatically.
Now the last sentence, and it’s this one I wanted to spend some time on. “We enlighten minds, elevate hope, and ennoble souls to strengthen individuals, families, community, and the Lord’s Church.” Now the three words that I’d like to look at are “enlighten, elevate, and ennoble.” And I’ve looked those up in the dictionary, and I just would like to show you what the definitions are for those three words.
Enlighten: “To give information or understanding to; to instruct or to edify; to free from ignorance, prejudice, or superstition; to give spiritual or religious revelation to; and--the poetic definition--to shed light on.”
All of those are elevating statements. They lift us up. And that’s what we do at the Business College. You should feel like you are being enlightened and your mind is being enlightened.
The second one, to elevate: “To move something to a higher place or position from a lower one; to lift; to increase the amplitude, intensity of volume of; to promote to a higher rank; to raise to a higher moral, cultural, or intellectual level.”
Think about that last one: “to raise to a higher moral, cultural, or intellectual level.” You should feel like, here at the College, like all three of those things are happening to you—that your moral characteristics are changing, that your cultural is changing, and your intellectual level is changing. And to lift the spirits of.
The third word—ennoble: “To make noble, honorable, or excellent; to dignify; to exalt; to raise to a noble rank, confer a title of nobility upon.”
Now in order to do all of those things, or most anything we do in life today, we become subject to rules, laws, and codes. I think of Adam [who] was asked by the angel of the Lord, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?” Adam responded, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 5:6) He had put himself on the line. He said, “The Lord has asked me to do it, and so that’s what I’m going to do.”
The law of Moses: We all know about bringing the Ten Commandments down from the mount, and the first time, Moses was so angry that he dashed the tablets, because he saw what the children of Israel were doing. Finally he goes back up on to the mount, and he comes down with what may have been—I haven’t been able to tell by reading—a different set of commandments that we know as the Ten Commandments.
The Lord made a covenant with the people at that time. This is the covenant that he made: “Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord.” (Exodus 34:10) So He made a covenant to them that He was going to do many wonderful things. And the people would see those wonderful things.
Now in Galatians 3:24 we read: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” So the purpose of the law is to bring people to Christ, to be a teacher to the people. Think of the Word of Wisdom that was given to a modern prophet, Joseph Smith. I wonder what the people felt like after that revelation came. I have not read anything about it, but I imagine there were some people who were probably a little bit disturbed by some of the items in the Word of Wisdom that perhaps they had been doing and could no longer do if they lived it.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read in section 1, verse 38: “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” So our prophets and leaders, when they speak, it is as if the Lord was speaking.
Now take a look at this next slide. This was a quote given by Elder Eyring, when he was Elder Eyring before he was President Eyring, at the Business College: “If we can conduct ourselves in such a way that we invite the Spirit of God and we work our hearts out, our students, if they do the same, will learn at rates that the world will just be amazed. We’ll be as good at our teaching as we are able to invite the Holy Spirit.” [Sept. 1995, quoted in David Brooksby, “The Circle of Honor,” LDS Business College Devotional, June 5, 2012.]
There’s quite a promise there, that if they work their hearts out, if we as faculty and staff will work our hearts out, and the students will work their hearts out, they will “learn at rates that the world will just be amazed.” We can do that by inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives and into the institution.
You know, it’s remarkable how those two statements that I’ve just shown you are similar. And if you’ll look through them, you’ll find that there are similarities in there. The Lord has promised, in the one, that he’ll do marvels. Learning at rates that the people will be amazed is a marvel. And they will “see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) We’re examples to the world.
It’s interesting to see the individuals that have graduated from this institution and what they’ve accomplished in their lives. We had one just a couple of weeks ago with Brother Kariuke, and to see what he has done with his life, coming from LDS Business College.
Now I’d like to show a video now—it’s just a short video, that will take us to the end, of Elder Hales and a statement he made in conference.
Elder Hales: In January of 1982, I spoke in a devotional on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah. I invited the students to imagine that the Church was on one side of the podium, right here, and the world was just a foot or two away on the other side. This represented the “very short distance between where the world was and where the Church standards were” when I was in college. Then, standing before the students 30 years later, I held up my hands in the same manner and explained, “The world has gone far afield;[it has traveled; it is nowhere to be seen;] it has proceeded way, way out, all the way out of this [building and around the world]. What we and our children and our grandchildren have to remember is that the Church will remain constant, [it’s still right here; yet] the world will keep moving—that gap is [becoming] wider and wider. Therefore, be very careful. If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it’s going, you’ll find you’re not where you should be.
Back then I could not have imagined how far and how fast the world would move away from God; it was impossible to understand that, given doctrine, principles, and commandments. And yet the standards of Christ and His Church have not moved. As He said, “The truth abideth forever and ever.” When we understand and accept this, we are prepared to face the social pressure, ridicule, and even discrimination that will come from the world and some who call themselves friends.
Most of us know someone who would say, “If you want to be my friend, you’ll have to accept my values.” A true friend doesn’t ask us to choose between the gospel and his or her friendship. To borrow the words of Paul, “from such, turn away.” A true friend strengthens us to stay on the straight and narrow path, staying on the gospel path.
Staying on the gospel path of covenants, commandments, and ordinance, protects us and prepares us to do God’s work in this world. When we obey the Word of Wisdom, our agency is protected from addictions like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. As we pay our tithing, study the scriptures, receive baptism and confirmation, live for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, partake of the sacrament worthily, obey the law of chastity, prepare for and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and make sacred covenants at the temple, then we are prepared to serve. (“Stand Strong in Holy Places, April 2013 General Conference, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/stand-strong-in-holy-places.)
I think there’s some wise counsel in what Elder Hales has to say. It’s important for us to live up to the covenants and the agreements that we have made, the contracts that we have signed.
Now, in closing my advice to you—there is another continuum other than the one that Elder Hales talked about. There’s another continuum, and you and I are on opposite ends of it—some of us probably closer to one end or the other. As I finish my service here at the Business College, the advice and counsel I would give to you is live so you’re entitled to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Stay close to the Church and the prophet. Raise a righteous family. Follow the counsel of Church leaders. Lift where you stand. Be diligent with whatever your righteous endeavors you are engaged in. Serve others, and take time to ask yourself, “Why am I here at LDS Business College at this time in my life? What am I to learn in addition to a career?” Because I believe there is a lot you can learn from those around you here at the College.
Brothers and sisters, it’s my prayer that each one of us will find the inspiring moments in our lives and apply what we learn from that inspiration, to the benefit of ourselves and others. I know the gospel is true. I know that God lives. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins. I know that a modern prophet lives and directs us and guides us through inspiration from our Father in Heaven. And I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.