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Pres. J Lawrence Richards

Seek Diligently to Be Endowed with Power

How are you? You look good for a Tuesday. You look good for Day Two of the semester.  This is Day One for how many of you? Well, look to your left and your right—if the student next to you looks tired they’re on Day Two. You can tell the Day Ones because they still look a little bewildered. The Day Twos have it all down now, including how not to use the elevators—this is the first time in the history of the College there was actually a traffic jam in the stairwells coming down this morning. You should know there are two sets of stairwells, one on the east and one on the west. Some of us went to the east stairwell and glided all the way down.

No matter which stairwell you used, you’ve made the right decision to be here in the Assembly Hall for the start of  Winter Semester.  I worried about your reaction to cold weather and your decision to come to devotional. We are blessed with a wonderful campus with all of our classes in one building. So the thought of actually having to wear a coat and walk two blocks up the street -- I worried whether you would do it. The exciting thing for me would be to stay in my office and watch about 900 people walking across two intersections in downtown Salt Lake City. I have a vision of a Trax car right out front for those not wanting to walk, packed full of students looking the way you do, riding up the street singing “I Am a Child of God.” And then watching all those who are not one of us on the Trax train, going, “Whoa.”

At first they may seek to get off. But then they will look at you, and they will see something in you that is attractive beyond your physical appearance. They will see in you something they wish they had and   cannot explain. They will feel something, maybe for some, it will be the first time they have felt it. Maybe for others, your presence, your action and your demeanor will spark back into their lives something they had felt on a previous occasion in a season of their life, they have now turned from or rejected.  So you will bless them in a very subtle but very profound way. Thanks be to God if you never know you blessed them. That’s the best kind of influence we can have.

Now, to Adam [Fisher, student body president], don’t let him kid you. He knows exactly why he is here. But it’s cute to say you don’t know. And so Adam is cute. But he knows exactly why, and the why is very personal. But it is imbedded in the basic “why” of this institution, and I want to explain it to you. I have a talk that I have written, and we’ll post it somewhere, because it’s probably not too bad of a one, but I don’t think it’s the one I’m supposed to give. . So I ask you to pray for me as I pray for you, that the Spirit will be in attendance and will touch our hearts, quicken my voice and quicken your understanding, as D&C 50 says, that all may be edified of all. (See verse 22)

Now, the “why” of this institution. Then-Elder Henry B. Eyring stated the “why.” I’m going to paraphrase it. I should memorize it. I just found this quote a couple of months ago, but it is at the heart of our institutional “why.” You can decide why it is that you’re here, and how it fits, and the degree to which your “why” fits our “why.”  To the degree it doesn’t align, repent and get on board, because Father in Heaven has something here for you that is magnificent uplifting, and it can  set the course for the rest of your life. So here is our collective “why.” Elder Eyring said we are not in the business of education. We are not in the business of granting degrees. He said, “We are in the business of [endowing students] with power.” (at LDS Business College 2008)

Now some of you may reject the notion of power. I invite you to set your own definition of power aside for a minute, and grasp onto it as something good. Because you are all of the generation which, when you played soccer, everybody got a trophy, right? If you were on the swim team, everybody got a ribbon, no matter where you placed. So this idea of having power may be something you reject a little bit, because it suggests one person having something good someone else does not.  It’s not popular, except when power is used in inappropriate ways, and then for some it becomes attractive just like it did in the Book of Mormon, for people who sought power.

The power I am talking about is the power that comes from the principles in the 43rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 16, that ye may be “taught from on high. Sanctify yourselves and ye shall be endowed with power, [to] give even as I have spoken.”

The power that you are entitled to here is the power to give. To give what? To give of your very best. To give of what you learn here. To give of your talents, like Amy did today. That takes a lot of guts to stand in front of this crowd, and with that accompaniment, which didn’t exactly follow the way it is in the hymnbook, and belt out this song containing such a powerful message. It is the power to see the right things. It’s the power to do the right things. It is the power to stand, girded with righteousness and faith. It is the power to be true when being true is not popular. It is the power to know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph was indeed a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is a Second Witness for Christ. That is the kind of power I speak.

When you couple power with value, something exciting happens in your life. I’m trying to get you to think about your own reason for being. You are here to be endowed with power, to be willing and able to receive all that Father has in store for you in this season of your life. But part of it is seeing your own value.

Let me try a little something. Can you see that? It’s a $100 bill. Now I’m going to the vice president of finance, and he’s going to attest it’s real. How many of you are interested in having this $100 bill. Thank you very much. The rest of you wake up, because you just missed the opportunity. Now I want you to think for a minute why you might be interested in that $100 bill. Just ponder it in your heart, okay?

Now watch closely [sound of crumpling]. How many are interested in that $100 bill? Well, that’s interesting, because I just crumpled it. Okay. [sound of stomping] How many are interested in that $100 bill? This is dirt.  How many are interested in that $100 bill? Okay. You learned a valuable lesson about value. There is nothing I can do short of destroying it that depletes its value. Some of you have come here this semester and you are a crisp $100 bill. Some of you are wadded up. Some of you are a soaking wet $100 bill. And others of you may have been dragged through the mud. But you are a $100 bill. In fact, you are more than that. I don’t know what your value is, but I know Heavenly Father knows your value, and I know you are here to increase that value. You can increase your value to yourself, and to your future family, or to your family now, to your community, to your professions, and to the Lord’s Church. Your value is increased by the degree to which you are willing and able to receive power and exercise it properly.

Now let me share a little story with you. Part of being willing and able to receive power is the fact that 1) you are here this semester and junk is going to happen to you. And if junk doesn’t happen, you may want to get down and ask Heavenly Father why He doesn’t trust you enough to give you a mountain. You too can be a Caleb: “Give me this mountain.” (See Joshua 14:12) Do you remember that story in the Old Testament? And you’re going to get some mountains, some trials, some tribulations.  You may be in the middle of a challenge or a burden or a bad experience right now. Even the righteous who followed Alma away from King Noah had a bad thing happen to them. They didn’t invite it and they didn’t want it. But the Lord eased their burdens until He was willing to remove it.

Now it has been said the Lord will not interfere with the consequences of other people’s actions in your life. But He will help you bear that burden. So part of the challenge of being willing and able to receive an endowment of power is being willing and able to go through the junk that’s going to happen and dealing with it effectively.

I think it was Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin who said, in a talk in conference—it was entitled, “Come What May and Love It”(October 2008 general conference)—that’s good advice. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, someone else said. I’ve never taken a lot of comfort in that, but I share it with you because I believe there’s some truth in it. It is how you react to the challenges in front of you that will make all the difference in your being endowed with power. Satan has a great desire to use those experiences to pull you down. Heaven has a great desire to let you understand what a trial of faith really is. And let me suggest to you what it is.

I invite you to get out of your head the phrase “a trial of my faith.” It’s depressing. And replace it with “an experience where I may try my faith out.” Now that makes all the difference, doesn’t it, in the way that you view what happens to you. I have a daughter, and she has a friend, and this friend, every time something bad happened to her—a flat tire, they were all on a road trip together and a car broke down. And my daughter, she takes after her father—I’m a banker, and so I’m pessimistic. I’m just here to tell you. This girl would say, “Well, isn’t this going to be a wonderful adventure.” Come what may and love it.

About two years ago we had a student here at the College, a wonderful young man. He was bright. He was an excellent student. He had power to lift people. A light was in his eyes. I enjoyed every time I saw him in the hallways because he gave me a firm handshake and a great smile. Then he graduated, and he went on to another institution. I don’t know how social networks really work. I have a Facebook page, but I don’t even know how to get to it. But somehow I got connected to him through social media. But I saw his postings and I saw his pictures, and I read his comments. And the light was gone. The power he once had to give was greatly diminished.

So I wrote him a posting back. It was the first posting I had ever done. And I said to him, “I think you are better than that.” In fact, I suggested to him that, in different words, he was a $100 bill acting like a penny. And he wrote me back a note, and all he said in it was, “If you had experienced what I have now experienced, you’d be in the same place I am.”

The text I wrote back but did not send, which is a little piece of advice for another occasion—you can write wonderful texts, but choose what you send—it was going to be one word: “Boo.” That is not the case. Father in Heaven will give you experiences and put burdens on your back to give you an opportunity to try out your faith, and when you stand in those moments and you see it through and you are consistent and you go to your knees and you pray until and act and not wait to be acted upon, until relief comes, you will be endowed with power.

Now here’s another idea. Number 2) Be quick to take instruction and correction. President Eyring told us here at the College to be bold but expect correction. We only correct those who we love, and we correct those who we love with love. If it is done in any other way, or with any other desire than to help other people be better, to realize their value to be endowed with power—if we do it in any other way, the Spirit does not attend. And that goes for the person giving the correction and those people receiving the correction.

So let’s try a little experiment. The key to receiving and giving correction is humility, so I’m going to pull out my little humility dipstick, and I invite you to pull out your little humility dipstick. Okay? And let’s see if I can give correction in love and if you can receive it with love. This is Day Two. Brethren, there are too many unshaven faces. I have seen too much. It is not consistent with the covenant which you made, and I love you enough to correct you.

And sisters, it is Day Two. I have just seen too much. And I love those who are dressed properly; I love you enough to correct those who are not. Because I know how the Spirit attends when we do live up to that covenant that you made with your bishop and your stake president. And you’re going to say to yourself, “What does that have to do with education?” It has everything to do with covenants, and with covenants come power. And with power comes enlightenment, ennobling of your soul, and the elevation of your hope. I know that’s true. And so I invite you with all my heart to live consistent with that simple covenant of dress and grooming, because I love you. And I want to see Heaven just bless the socks off you.

Now, Peter. Let’s talk about Peter for just the last minute or two. On the topic of following instruction—you’re going to receive some assignments that you think are dopey. You are going to think they’re unnecessary. You’re going to get some advice on how to rewrite a paper, and you’re going to say, “It’s good enough for me; it ought to be good enough for you.” And you may get some counsel from a faculty member, from a staff member, and you don’t understand it, and you don’t want to understand it. You just want to get on. There is great power that comes from being willing and able to receive instruction. Had Peter not left the nets “straightway,” (Matthew 4:20) had he not been faithful like Nephi, son of Helaman, and stayed true to his duty to keep going when he was tired, had not Peter been “quick to observe,” (Mormon 1:1) he would have never stood on the Mount of Transfiguration and seen Moses and Elijah and heard the voice of the Living God.

If Nephi had not had the desire and [been] willing to pay the price and to hear and to know, through the power of the Holy Ghost, he never would have had the power to build a ship, “not after the manner of men,” nor to be prepared to lead a nation.

Brothers and sisters, accept instruction.

Oh, one more. After the Savior’s resurrection, Peter and a group of the apostles did what? They went fishing, back to what they knew. And “they fished all night,” says the 21st chapter of John. And how successful were they? Nada. On the left side of the boat. There should be fish on the right side of the boat. I’m not doing it, but what did Peter do? Peter and the rest of the Brethren dropped their nets, and the harvest was so great it almost split the nets.

Now brothers and sisters, in the words of Elder Packer, clear back in 1969 (October conference), he said, “You may be in the right sea, you may even be in the right boat,” but I invite you to fish on the other side. Take the instruction. Do your very best with it. You’ll be endowed with the power to give.

And that’s why the Church has this College, and that’s why you’re here. And we’re out of time, so here’s my testimony. I don’t know whether—oh, yes I do—I know that you’re worth more than a $100 bill sitting in muddy water, but I don’t know your full value. I know you’re precious. I know there are 2,200 of you here. Brother Williams, I’ve got a question for you. How many stripling warriors were there really? 2,060. Almost 2,200, weren’t there? I look at you and I see stripling warriors, blessed with all of the traits and all of the capabilities to carry off the Kingdom triumphantly. I am humbled that you are here and that those of us in the administration or the faculty and staff have some small degree of stewardship over you. You are as precious to me as my own children, because I know the blessings that God has in store for you, if you are willing and able to receive them. May He bless you with strength, may He bless you to accept correction and instruction. May He bless you with a willingness to bear the burdens that He will place upon your back. You will survive them. They will make you stronger. Come what may and love it.

May the Lord bless you this semester. May He bless the faculty and staff and the administration. May your testimonies deepen and strengthen, for that is job one. Without testimony there is little power. And I leave you that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


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