Good afternoon brothers and sisters. I am grateful to be here and for the opportunity to share a few lessons that I have learned over the years.
Lesson number one. Avoid extreme or bulky hairstyles. They will save you a lot of embarrassment in the future.
You'll notice that President didn't say that my LIFELONG goal was to get married before I lost my hair. As you can see here, I wasn't worried about hair. You can also see that I wasn't worried about style.
My remaining lessons will fall under one of the following categories: career, academic, financial, and personal. You may recognize them if you have taken STEP before.
Lesson 1: Heeding the Lord When it Doesn't Make Sense.
Here's a little background. I graduated in 2008 during the nationwide hiring freeze. Three years later I was still applying for jobs across the country. At this point in my job hunt, I was sitting outside the military processing station with my recruiter, ready to swear in--meaning that I passed all of the tests and physicals and had a job lined up. All of a sudden, I received an overwhelming feeling that I shouldn't join.
Great. How do you tell, not one, not two, but multiple commanders, large in stature (like myself) who don't look like they have any feelings, that all of a sudden YOU had a feeling that you shouldn't join the military? Those next few hours were rough.
Fast forward one year. I was applying for a job here at the LDS Business College. FINALLY, after four years of job hunting I was one of the top two candidates; on the verge of getting a career. And guess what the Lord told me? "Withdraw your application." I am so grateful that my wife supported me in that decision because the next few days were heart wrenching for me.
These are only two of many similar examples. What has given me comfort is Mathew Holland's story about wrong roads and revelation.
Matthew, Elder Holland's son, shared a story when they traveled through back roads to see the Grand Canyon. On their way home they came to a fork in the road. They both received revelation to take the road on the left, which was a dead end. After some time, Matthew finally asked his dad, "Why did we both feel like Heavenly Father told us to go down the road to the left when it was the wrong road?”
Elder Holland then said, "Because we were prompted to take the road to the left, we quickly discovered which one was the right one. When we turned around and got on the right road, I was able to travel along its many unfamiliar twists and turnoffs perfectly confident I was headed in the right direction.
“If we had started on the right road, we might have driven for 30 minutes or so, become uneasy with the unfamiliar surroundings, and been tempted to turn back. If we had done that, we would have discovered the dead-end so late that it would have been too dark to find our way back in totally unfamiliar territory.”
Lesson 2: Choose Your Own Adventure
President Hunter said, "A man’s work should do more than provide adequate income; it should provide him with a sense of self-worth and be a pleasure--something he looks forward to each day."
I have always been fascinated by that quote and set my sights on finding that DREAM job. The problem was, it was nowhere to be found.
Before I came here, I worked at UPS. The first two years were tolerable, but the following year was miserable. I had my bachelor's degree, a great internship at the Church Office Building, and was ready to move on. I tried to quit. I even gave my two-week notice, but the Lord told me no and offered me a supervisor position while I waited. It didn't help; in fact it made it worse--extra hours and additional stress at a place I didn't want to be.
Then one day, I decided to be grateful--well, I'm pretty sure the Lord helped me to decide. But every night before I left work, while I sat in my car, I thanked my Heavenly Father for the resume building experience, for the health insurance, for the income. I thanked Him that my car worked (it had 300,000 miles on it). And I thanked Him for anything else I could think of.
That changed me. I began to see opportunity. I began to volunteer for special projects. I began to craft my own experience. I began to choose my own adventure.
I eventually worked my way into safety and compliance where I spent the remaining four years. And I looked forward to it every day. So take accountability for your own experience and create the career you want for yourself.
Lesson 3: Choosing a Major
How do you choose a major? I would like to propose a simple slogan--just decide! Do your research, then decide. This can work in so many other areas in your life as well. What should you be when you grow up? Just decide. Should you serve a mission or not? Just decide.
Elder Hales said, "Pursue your goals with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. You are doomed to failure if you pursue them in a vacillating manner.
"So often we are tentative and don’t move forward with conviction. We feel our way along, as if we were afraid in the dark. It is so much better to turn on the light of faith and move ahead with energy and commitment.
"If our course is wrong, we will quickly recognize it and make the necessary adjustments. But if we pursue a course tentatively and indecisively, it is difficult to know whether it is right or wrong in time to correct it."
So what does that mean? Make a decision, move ahead with energy and commitment, and trust that the Lord will guide you.
Lesson 4: Pay a Generous Tithe and Offering
Paying a generous tithe and offering will open to you the windows of heaven. I have two invitations for you. One, pay a generous tithe and offering. Two, look for the subtle blessings you have and are receiving.
Elder Bednar said, "A subtle but significant blessing we receive is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (see Luke 12:15).
He continues, "We may need and pray for help to find suitable employment. Eyes and ears of faith (see Ether 12:19) are needed, however, to recognize the spiritual gift of enhanced discernment that can empower us to identify job opportunities that many other people might overlook—or the blessing of greater personal determination to search harder and longer for a position than other people may be able or willing to do. We might want and expect a job offer, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to act and change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else.
He continues, "We may appropriately desire and work to receive a pay raise in our employment to better provide the necessities of life. Eyes and ears of faith are required, however, to notice in us an increased spiritual and temporal capacity (see Luke 2:52) to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired. We might want and expect a larger paycheck, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else."
My family and I echo the blessings we have received from paying a generous tithe and offering.
Lesson 5: Ask the Right Questions
When I was ready to ask my wife to marry me, knowing that my hair wasn't going to last much longer, I spent many stressful hours praying and pondering to know if she was the right person. I never did receive an answer...until I asked the right question. The right question for me wasn't, "Is she THE ONE?" It was, "Can I raise a righteous family with her?"
Your question might be different, but the principle is asking the right questions, which has application in other areas as well. For example, perhaps the question is not, "Is this the right career?" Or "What career should I choose?" But "Will this career help me support my family?" Or "Will this career introduce me to people and experiences that will prepare me to be an instrument in God's hands?"
The last lesson is the thread that weaves all of these experiences together--TRUST IN THE LORD.
I would like to leave you with a tool today. A memorized scripture. Proverbs chapter three verse five. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Please, take a brief moment to memorize this verse.
Brothers and Sisters, work hard, make decisions, and then trust the Lord. Trust in His timing. Trust in His blessings. Trust that your life is carefully watched over. Trust that your trials shall be for a moment and shall be for your good. And trust in His love.
As you do, you will find life in greater abundance.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Introduction: Craig Nelson
Michael Davison is the director of academic and institutional assessment here on campus, and Joshua Burt is the director of learning enhancement programs here on our campus.
Let me introduce Brother Davison and Brother Burt to you. Brother Davison has been at the College just slightly less than a year, after earning his master’s degree from Western Illinois University, and we’re glad to have him here. Michael keeps us on task, and we’re grateful for his presence. We’re grateful that he could be here with his wife. They have two sons.
We’re also grateful for Joshua. Joshua has worked at the College for a little less than two years. He has had a great impact. His goal in life was to get married before he lost his hair, and he said he was successful in that endeavor. His wife Andrea is here. They have two boys and a girl. And Andrea and family are right there. Would you stand up, Andrea and kids, so we can see you.