Mine Eyes Are Upon You
This is a very, very special place for very, very special people. I hope that each and every one of you feels the meaning of those words and feels it personally. Yes, this is a special place, but more importantly, this is a special place for special people. You students and the faculty and staff who serve you are known by the leaders of the Church to be very special; and I certainly have those feelings about you. One of the realities that come with being a special people is that there is a Heavenly awareness of you, as well. The Lord said, “But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and you cannot see me” (D&C 38:7).
I testify that His eyes are upon you, that He knows you, and that He loves you. I will say much more about that later.
I have some special feelings about LDS Business College that some of you, particularly President and Sister Woodhouse and some of the faculty who have heard me speak before, would recall. Most of you students would not know that one of the reasons why I have such special feelings about this place is that over 75 years ago my parents met each other as students here at LDS Business College. Where would I be if it were not for LDS Business College? Who would I be? Well, this is a special place for more significant reasons than that, but I want you to know of the feelings of attachment that I have for you and for this institution.
It is important that you consider what this place means to you now, and what it will mean to you as you continue your studies and move on through the stages of your lives. I would predict that as the years pass, and as you look back on your experience here, you will realize far more than you do now how special this place is, how special the experience will have been that you look back upon, and how special the people are who you have come to know and to love and respect, both among the students as well as among the faculty and staff and administration.
The transitions that have taken place in bringing LDS Business College to this location provide a very significant signal as to the importance of this institution and of the young people of the Church that it serves and will yet serve through the years. This move is a marvelous endorsement from prophets, seers and revelators, and it provides the assurance for all of you and for all of the Church that LDS Business College is here to stay. And it will be here to serve students such as yourselves coming from literally all around the world to receive the kind of training they need for life and for making a living.
We have just listened to a beautiful hymn, Come Unto Jesus. Its inspiring message provides an introduction to the subject that I would like to have you think about today. The hymn suggests an invitation that we literally come unto Him. With that thought in mind, I would like to reread the verse of scripture I read a moment ago and invite you to listen carefully, hearing the words, and feeling their deep meaning as I read. This is the Savior Himself speaking to the Prophet Joseph Smith. There is a message here for all of us, as members of His Church, the Lord’s Church. The Lord said, “But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and you cannot see me” (D&C 38:7). While we are invited to come unto Him, we are also assured that His eyes are upon us. We may not see Him, but He is in our midst. The Lord also said, “For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88).
What I’m hoping to do, as we visit here today, is to have you feel rather keenly and rather personally, this connection that exists between each of us and the Savior. We’ve been invited to come unto Him, but we also must ever bear in mind that, in a way, He comes to us, because His eyes are upon us, and He is in our midst. He knows each of us, and He has some feelings about us. He knows we are here. He knows what we’re about. He knows what our potential is, and He knows that there will be some of us who will fall short of our potential, or who will, in our own vision for ourselves and our future families and our professions, think of ourselves less than we should. In doing this we tend to diminish the kind of impact that we individually can have. More importantly, we tend to diminish the impact that the Savior can have on others through us.
Think of the Savior’s eyes being upon you not with a sense of concern, not with a sense of anguish about His being able to see everything?” Yes, He can. Be aware of that, but let it have a positive, rather than a negative, impact upon you. Let it inspire and motivate you to a better life, to a better preparation for life, and to a greater sense of worthiness, and greater commitment to service in the Lord’s church and kingdom.
Now, let’s focus a little more clearly and precisely. There are endless things that we could talk about that might relate to the Lord’s eyes being upon us. I want to identify only three–three ideas or principles that I hope you’ll retain in your memory—three ideas that will be a source of inspiration, a source of motivation, and a source of direction in your lives.
I know that the Savior’s eyes are upon each of you, and that He has high expectations for you. High expectations! This is the first principle that I suggest for your thoughtful consideration. The second principle suggests that the Lord, with those high expectations and His eyes upon you, expects you to have lofty ideals. And the third principle is that the Lord expects you to have deep and abiding testimonies. If you remember nothing else that I say, just keep those three thoughts in your mind: first, that the Lord’s eyes are upon you with high expectations for you and your achievements; second, that He expects you to have lofty ideals and to adhere tenaciously to them; and, third, that the Lord expects you have deep and abiding testimonies of the gospel.
The Lord has high expectations for you in terms of your education. You are here. Each of you has made your decision to pursue an education, and to pursue it here at LDS Business College. Your decisions have been made for different reasons, each unique to yourselves. But you are here. And you are to be commended for being here, because you have sensed the importance of getting a good education. It’s not just a matter of getting a good education. You have probably heard President Hinckley talk about getting all of the education you can. He said, “Education is the key to opportunity. The Lord has placed upon you, as members of the Church, the obligation to study and learn of things spiritual, yes, but of things temporal also. Acquire all the education you can, even if it means great sacrifice. You will bless the lives of your children. You will bless the Church, because you will reflect honor to this work. You will be doing the will of the Lord as you educate your mind and your hands to make a contribution to the world of which you are a part” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, page 172).
That is a marvelous, marvelous statement from President Hinckley. There’s no question that the living prophet of God recognizes the absolute importance of getting a good education and getting all of it that you can. Most of you are here to acquire specific learning, specific skills that will equip you to be employable, to be prepared to access the kind of occupational opportunities that will make it possible for you to provide for yourselves and your families in the years ahead.
That is the unique and central object of this institution, to equip you with employable skills.
Some of you are here with the desire to acquire those skills and credentials and then to pursue further education formally at other institutions. Either course that you pursue is appropriate and consistent with the mission of this institution. Even you, for whom immediate employability is the objective, must not lose sight of President Hinckley’s invitation, his charge, to acquire all the education you can. That may be formal education at other institutions, or it may be continuing to learn all that you can about your chosen occupation and profession, to continue to learn all that you can about the world around you. The main idea is that learning is one of the few things that we can take with us to the other side.
You’ll recognize these words of scripture: “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18-19). That’s a pretty clear indication that we do take our learning with us. And the more we have of it, the better we will be in the eternities of the hereafter. So, the Lord has high expectations that you will acquire all the formal and informal education you can.
As you pursue your education and occupation, think in terms of learning and knowing more than is expected of you. Each of you, in the employment opportunities that you will pursue, will have a certain base of knowledge that will be required of you to perform your work. Don’t let that minimum requirement be the ceiling of what you learn about your work. I am convinced that opportunities come to those who know more than is expected of them. And then, of course, it would follow that real opportunities will come to those who then do more than is expected of them. Don’t just meet the minimum requirements. The high expectations the Lord has for you anticipate that you will come to know more than is required of you and that you do more than is minimally required. Set the pattern for this approach now as a student, and it will follow you into your employment. The Lord expects us to excel in our chosen fields. I promise that you will be rewarded for the extra effort.
Now for you sisters, the highest and most noble thing you can do in your future is to be a marvelous wife and a mother. Nothing could be more honorable, nothing more admirable, nothing more fulfilling than to be a “stay at home mom.” Reality tells us that some of you of necessity may have to seek employment to sustain or assist to sustain your family. That’s appropriate where born of necessity. A good education will not only prepare for that possible need, but it will also aid you in becoming better mothers. But make sure—and this also should be seen as part of the high expectations the Lord has of you—that you keep very clearly in mind the proper balance and your proper priorities. Acquire employable skills so you can draw upon them as they may be needed, but study and learn also that which will bless your family as well. An educated woman will educate her children as she nurtures them.
The second principle that I have suggested for your consideration today is the importance of having lofty ideals. Please take seriously the meaning of the Honor Code that guides your behavior, your demeanor, your very appearance, even your dress and grooming while you are students here. I happen to think that the Honor Code contains appropriate guidelines for living even beyond your days as a student. The Honor Code is nothing more than a means of helping you live the standards of the gospel, and as you live them, to look and be what the Savior would have you be. Don’t be critical of the Honor Code. Don’t be cynical. Don’t try to compromise. Don’t try to push the envelope and get just as close as you can without violating it. Know that that Honor Code has been established for the Church Educational System by prophets, seers and revelators after much prayerful deliberation. This is the standard by which the Lord would have us measured as we attend these institutions of education. Think of this as encouragement to have lofty ideals, to live the kind of life that the Lord would have you live, and to enjoy a sense of comfort and confidence as you know His eyes are upon you.
The Lord said: “And let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” You’ve heard that before, and what a beautiful and profound thought that is. Let virtue garnish your thoughts—not just your actions, but your thoughts—unceasingly.” Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). Now, think of the Savior’s eyes being upon you, and think of virtue garnishing your thoughts as well as your deeds, unceasingly. What’s the blessing of that? You can sit here and say, “The Lord’s eyes are upon me, and my confidence waxes strong.” That is, I’m comfortable. I’m confident that everything is in order in my life. That’s what living lofty ideals will do for you. This is not with any sense of pride, but just simply that sense of comfort and assurance that you are living as the Lord would have you live.
Live the commandments—all of the commandments. Yes, those that relate to conduct, but also those that relate to worship, those that relate to sacrifice. Live the law of tithing. Let me share a personal experience with you about the law of tithing. I have very strong feelings about this sacred principle. The Lord has made very clear the promise that, as we live this sacred law, the windows of heaven will be opened to us and we’ll receive blessings, blessings that may even be beyond our capacity to receive.
As you know every full-time missionary and/or his family donate to the Church a specific and uniform amount of money every month of the missionary’s service. These donations come from the missionary’s own savings or from family and, in some cases, from assistance from ward members. These funds become part of the Missionary Support Fund which provides for the basic living expenses of missionaries throughout the world. Prior to the institution of that uniform monthly amount, each family would provide whatever funds were needed depending on the parts of the world where the missionaries served. Before the establishment of that Missionary Support Fund, we had a daughter who was serving in Norway. That was more than fifteen years ago. The monthly amount that was required in Norway was over seven hundred dollars a month. The Missionary Support Fund now is four hundred dollars a month. It was not easy for us to come up with seven hundred dollars every month. We had saved some for her younger brother who was to planning to serve a mission, but she surprised us with her desire and decision to serve. After she had been in Norway about a year, her brother received his call and was sent to Japan. The monthly amount there at that time was over eight hundred dollars. I had a pretty good job, was making reasonably good money, and we had saved. But we did not have enough money to meet the monthly requirement.
To make a very long story short, I will just tell you that during the first month that the two of their missions overlapped requiring more than fifteen hundred dollars each month, I unexpectedly received an invitation to conduct a performance evaluation of the president of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. I went there, assuming that this was just a nice thing to do and I’d be happy to do it for them. I completed the evaluation, made the report to the Nevada State Board of Regents. As I was preparing to leave, they thanked me and handed me a check as a payment for my services. It was an amazing amount of money for doing what I thought just to be a favor for them. They then asked me to go to Reno and evaluate the president of the University of Nevada at Reno. That was followed by Clark County Community College and then Northern Nevada Community College. Interestingly enough, the payments offered in those opportunities, were exactly what we needed to keep those two missionaries in the field. When our daughter returned home, the invitations to evaluate college and university presidents ceased.
Do you think I have a testimony of the law of tithing? I believe it was a direct result of our having determined early that we would faithfully pay our tithes and offerings. President Hinckley has said that the law of tithing is not a matter of finance; it is a matter of faith. It’s not that the Church needs our tithing. It’s that you and I need to live that law to be partners with the Lord in building His kingdom. So I encourage you to always be faithful in living that law, no matter what the sacrifice may be. And the blessings will flow. Yes, they may be temporal blessings. They may be financial blessings, as they were in that specific incident I shared with you. But more importantly, living the law of tithing brings spiritual blessings.
The Lord’s eyes are upon each of you, and He expects you to have lofty ideals. This includes your own personal worthiness. Many of you have already been through the temple and will have temple recommends. Never let a time go that you do not have a current temple recommend, and most importantly, that you be fully worthy of it. You who have not yet been through the temple should live by that same standard of worthiness.
Several years ago, I was sitting in a meeting at my work. The secretary brought a note in to me which read, “Elder Bruce R. McConkie is on the phone.” Now, most of you are too young to have known Elder Bruce R. McConkie, but he was a very powerful member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a very strong personality. With that note, of course, I left my meeting and took the telephone call. It was very interesting. Without any preliminary comment, he said, “Brother Kerr, this is Bruce R. McConkie.” He had my absolute attention. He then said, “Brother Kerr, do you have a current temple recommend.” I said, “Yes, sir.” Then his next question was, “Are you worthy of it?” What a relief it was to be able to say, “Yes, sir!” Then he asked, “What is your current calling in the Church?” I responded, “I have the best calling in the Church. I’m teaching the 16 and 17 year-olds in Sunday School. There was a long pause, and he said, “Yes, that probably is the best calling in the Church, but it’s over.” And then over the telephone, which is not the usual manner in which these things happen, he proceeded to call me to be a stake president. Well, the point of my recounting this for you is that you grasp the importance of his questions: “Do you have a current temple recommend?” And, “Are you worthy of it?” That is speaking to the principle of “lofty ideals.” If you don’t know what the requirements of a temple recommend are, go to your bishop and ask him to review those requirements for you. Do it knowing that the Lord’s eyes are upon you.
Now, finally, let’s talk about your needing to have a deep and abiding testimony of the gospel. The unique message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth in its fulness. God is again speaking to living prophets of God through the marvelous process of revelation. Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Restoration, is the one through whom God the Father and Jesus Christ brought about this great restoration and commenced the dispensation of the fulness of times. How blessed we are—don’t let that ever pass you by—how blessed we are to be members of the Church and to be partakers of this marvelous privilege of being a part of this great and eternal plan.
This is not just another church; this church is the gospel of Jesus Christ restored to the earth in its fulness. One piece of the deep and abiding testimony that all of us must have is a testimony of the Prophet Joseph and of his prophetic role in the restoration of the gospel. The second piece is the most important of all, and this is where I want to conclude: The Savior Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. Come unto Him. His eyes are upon us. He is the Son of God. He is the Messiah. He is the Savior of the world. He is our advocate with the Father. His life and mission are unique. Nothing else compares in importance to this in all time. It is helpful at times to stop and think about His life and His mission. At times music can help us in that pondering, in that worship, in that reflection.
I’d like to invite my eternal companion—my sweetheart—to step to the piano and play a medley that will reflect on the life and mission of the Savior. See if you can identify the hymns, but more importantly identify the message behind those hymns as it relates to the life and mission of the Savior.
[Medley of hymns played by Sister Janeil Kerr]
Did you recognize the hymns? God Loved Us So He Sent His Son, I Stand All Amazed, He Is Risen, I Know that My Redeemer Lives, This Is the Christ, and then finally, I Wonder When He Comes Again, Will I Be Ready There. The Lord’s eyes are upon you. He has high expectations of you. Among those expectations are that you have lofty ideals and that you have deep and abiding testimonies of the gospel.
I leave with you my testimony, that this is the work of the Lord, that that which I said earlier is absolutely true regarding the Restoration. But most importantly I want to leave with you my witness of the divinity of the Savior, of the beauty and majesty of His mission, of the reality of His resurrection, and of the absolute certainty that He will come again. And I pray that each and every one of us—most especially, I pray that each and every one of you—will be ready then. And I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.