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Steve Sandberg

Steven M. Sandberg
Steven M. Sandberg is the oldest of five siblings who were all raised in Provo, Utah. Steve attended BYU for his freshman year before leaving to serve a mission in Madrid, Spain. After his mission, he graduated from BYU with a major in English and a minor in international studies. Steve and his wife, Bobbie, then lived in Taiwan so they could learn Chinese, eventually moving to New York City, where Steve received a JD from Columbia Law School.


LDS Business College has been around a long time—89 years to be precise. Actually, the College itself has existed for 134 years, but the name “LDS Business College” has been in place for 89 years.

Some of you may not be aware that the College “has had four names and five name changes;" it began as the Salt Lake Stake Academy, founded in 1886, then LDS College, LDS University, back to LDS College and since 1931, LDS Business College.1

This devotional is the last LDS Business College devotional.

On September 1, this wonderful institution will become Ensign College. Ensign College’s new name evokes Isaiah’s prophecy of the Lord “lift[ing] up an ensign to the nations from far.”2 Many of you will be a part of helping lift this ensign, or banner, or standard, to the world,3 and many of you have already come from all over the world to study here.

I want to herald the end of an era by telling you a bit of what it takes to change a name. You may not have given that much thought. It’s more complicated than just taking down the sign on the outside of the building and putting up a new one.

I serve as the general counsel, or chief legal officer, for LDS Business College. Paul Angerhofer, one of my colleagues, has been working for the last several months setting up the legal steps to change the college’s name to Ensign College. LDS Business College is a Utah nonprofit corporation, and its main governing document, its charter—called its Articles of Incorporation—has to be amended and processed by a Utah state agency.

At the same time, a completely different state agency has to approve whether we can even use the word “college” at all in our name. For consumer protection reasons, the word “college” is restricted, meaning that in Utah you can’t use the name “college” in your business name unless you get specific approval. Gratefully, we received that approval last month.

Additionally, LDS Business College had to get approval to change its name from its institutional accreditor, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. We also had to secure the new domain name for our website and email addresses. Paul Angerhofer further coordinated filing a trademark/service mark application so that our intellectual property rights in the name and marks of Ensign College are protected.

All of this may seem esoteric, and maybe I’ve already lost some of you. You may be thinking, I’m not getting much spiritual uplift from all these legal and regulatory filings for Ensign College. Let me shift gears and make it more personal and more relevant.

Here’s the story of how the names of my two oldest children were changed. And as I relate this story, think about this beautiful phrase from President Russell M. Nelson, as recounted by Sister Joy D. Jones in the most recent General Conference: “The Lord loves effort.”4

Our oldest son, Tanner, was born in 1999.

We named him Tanner Spencer Sandberg. That’s what my wife, Bobbie, and I wrote on Tanner’s birth certificate application in the hospital in Provo, Utah, where Tanner was born. We were about to move to Taichung, Taiwan, so we also applied for a United States passport in that name.

Tanner’s passport photo was taken when he was one week old. I gave him a name and a blessing shortly afterward—all as Tanner Spencer Sandberg.

Tanner is Bobbie’s maiden name, so our son Tanner had a direct name connection with his maternal relatives. With apologies to all Spencers out there, after a while, we had a change of heart about Tanner’s middle name. We began to think about Tanner’s paternal relatives, and we thought about how his dad, grandpa, and great grandpa on his paternal side all had the name Merrill, either as a first or middle name. When we returned to the United States from Taiwan, we went to the Utah County Health Department and asked them how we could change Tanner’s middle name to Merrill. The receptionist pushed a half-sheet application across the desk, asked us to fill it out and sign it, and said that was all we needed to do to change his name on his Utah birth certificate.

It was so easy. We received a new, official birth certificate, and it had his new name.

A couple of years later we were living in New York City, and our oldest daughter, Jane, was born. We loved the name Jane and had also decided not to give her a middle name. Bobbie doesn’t have a middle name, and we thought that if our daughter decided to get married, she could take on a new last name and Sandberg would become her middle name, similarly to how Bobbie uses her maiden name of Tanner as her middle name.

We filled out the birth certificate application at St. Luke’s—Roosevelt Hospital at West 59th Street and Tenth Avenue in Manhattan, and we wrote, Jane Sandberg.

But before we gave her a name and a blessing, Bobbie and I had a similar change of heart as we’d had with Tanner. Maybe Jane should have a middle name of her own. We also wanted to make a family connection. We eventually settled on Barbara, which is Bobbie’s name (Bobbie has been her nickname since she was a toddler). It’s my own mother’s name, and it’s also Bobbie’s grandmother’s name. The only problem was that we didn’t love how Jane Barbara sounded. We just really liked the sound of Barbara Jane.5

So we went to the New York office to change her first name to Barbara and move Jane into the middle name slot. The official wasn’t at all moved by our explanation about how quick and easy Utah’s process had been. Her response? “Welcome to New York.”

We were astounded to learn that even an infant has to go through the same rigorous process to change her name as an adult. We had to petition a court for permission to change her name. We had to pay filing fees. We had to publish her name change in a paper of record so that all Jane’s creditors could track her. We then waited for all of the court processes and City of New York processes to be completed, and finally, when Jane was getting close to being two-years-old, we got her completed birth certificate back.

I couldn’t believe it. Someone had taken a pen, crossed out Jane in the first name slot, written Barbara above it, and also penned in Jane as the new middle name. My first thought was that if that’s all it took, I could have taken care of that a long time ago.

It had taken a lot of effort. And receiving the old, official birth certificate, with hand-written updates, felt underwhelming.

Fast forward a decade. Tanner’s and Jane’s grandparents were serving a mission in Brazil, and we wanted to take Tanner and Jane to visit them. We began the application process for passports and visas, and we quickly realized that our children’s changed names would be a problem. For Tanner, many years had passed since his infant passport had been issued, and we couldn’t document his name change with a court order, divorce decree or marriage certificate. Tanner didn’t have government issued ID in his name beyond his birth certificate, since he wasn’t yet old enough for a driver’s license. The federal government required that we fill out multiple application forms, submit declarations of people who had known Tanner by both his previous and his current names, and create notarized records showing Tanner had used his new middle name for five years or more.

In order to accomplish all this, we had to go, in person, to a passport agency and then explain to confused administrators at his school district and his health insurance company why we needed notarized copies of his records. It took even more effort than Jane’s court order had taken in New York.

But Jane’s passport?

Relatively simple. We had the court order of her name change, as reflected on her revised birth certificate. The hard work and effort we had put in years ago paid off in the end. We just handed over the court order and birth certificate, and Jane soon had her passport.

Now, after our experience changing Tanner’s and Jane’s names, Bobbie and I learned another important lesson—one that has been obvious to you all along. Why didn’t we just settle on a name and stick with it? Well, you’ll be proud of us that for each of our other children, we did just that.

Except, of course, our children have their own agency. Already one of our daughters decided, when she was four-years-old, to stop going by her first name and to ask everyone—her preschool teachers, her primary teachers, her aunts and uncles, to start calling her by her middle name, Kate. Kate even shortly after made a business card for me to keep in my office with her name. Here it is.

Fortunately, Kate was already the name officially listed as her middle name on her birth certificate.

And who knows, when they’re adults, our children may decide to change their names.

Jane hasn’t loved being listed as Barbara in her class rolls at school or in some of her yearbooks. Sorry, Jane. I haven’t told you this yet, but while researching for this devotional, I learned that the name of your hospital on West 59th Street in New York City changed its name. It’s now Mount Sinai West.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about names and passports and signs hanging outside of buildings. But in the eternal scheme of things, there’s something far more important. Don’t get me wrong—names of people can be and are sacred, and there is a particular holiness about the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.6

But what’s even more important than the name of Ensign College or the name of a hospital or your official name on a government ID is what happens inside of those buildings, and especially what happens inside of you. As human beings, we get caught up in “outward appearance[s],” but God “looketh on the heart.”7 What will matter most in the end is whether our hearts have changed.

Let me mention two aspects of a change of heart—effort and connection.

First, effort. There are no shortcuts. Just as there was no shortcut for changing either Tanner’s or Jane’s names for their passports, there is no shortcut to a change of heart. The Fourth Article of Faith lists the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, but those just get us started. An additional principle that Nephi taught us is enduring to the end.8 That takes work. It takes cultivating the qualities that the author Paul Tough identified in his book How Children Succeed: “persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence.” It takes “an inclination to persist at a boring and often unrewarding task; the ability to delay gratification; the tendency to follow through on a plan.”9

Alma taught that it takes effort to continue to experience a change of heart. He asked the people in the church established in the city of Zarahemla, “Have you experienced a mighty change in your hearts?”10 But then he also asked them, “If you have experienced a change of heart, can you feel so now?”11 In other words, had they continued to do the things that kept their hearts softened and changed?

When Alma was journeying from Gideon to Manti, he was overjoyed to see the sons of King Mosiah who had been with him when the angel first appeared to him. “[A]nd what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord.”12 Those missionaries “had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer and fasting.”13 Over the course of their 14-year missions—how’s that for persistence and grit?—they had given consistent effort to maintain their change of heart.

If our hearts are changed, and kept soft through the type of effort that Alma and the sons of King Mosiah gave, then when the seed of the word of God is planted in our hearts, those truths will be able to swell and grow until we partake of the fruit of the love of God. But a crucial aspect is that we “continue to nourish [the seed] with much care,” with “great diligence, and with patience.”14 It will take effort. As President Nelson said, “[T]he Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it.”15

Second, connection. As our hearts change, the hearts of many around us will change. Our mortal experience is one of interconnectedness.

Elder Dale G. Renlund, like President Nelson, is a heart doctor. He has recounted many stories in General Conference about a change of heart—both spiritually and literally—through heart transplants. I recently read through all of his talks, and I was struck by the common theme of interconnectedness—how a change of heart takes place in one person because of a gift or example from another. In one experience that Elder Renlund shared, a former patient was a grandfather in need of a new heart. Tragically, the grandfather’s new heart came from his oldest grandchild, who had been fatally injured in a car/train collision. But after the heart transplant, the grandfather became a different person, more “solemn, thoughtful and kindhearted.” He lived in daily thankfulness for the new heart, even as he was anguished by the circumstances of the transplant from his grandson. But with his new heart, the grandfather lived many years as a more optimistic and determined, more generous and loving person.16

Elder Renlund also told a story from William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It. In the play, an older brother, Oliver, mistreats and even contrives to kill his younger brother, Orlando. Later on, Orlando sees a “wretched ragged man, o’ergrown with hair”17 asleep in the forest who is about to be attacked by a lioness. As Orlando approaches the man, he discovers that it’s his older brother. After an internal struggle in which Orlando twice decides to leave his brother there, “kindness, nobler ever than revenge, and nature, stronger than his just occasion”18 brings him to fight the lioness and save the brother who had been so cruel to him.

Quoting Elder Renlund: “When the older brother learns of this undeserved compassion, he is totally and forever changed and has what he calls a ‘conversion.’ Later, several women approach the older brother and ask, ‘Was’t you that did so oft contrive to kill [your brother]?’ The older brother answers, ‘’Twas I; but ’tis not I: I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.”

Elder Renlund continues, “For us, because of the Atonement of Christ and our repentance, we can look at our past deeds and say, ‘’Twas I; but ’tis not I.’ . . . [W]e can say, ‘That’s who I was. But that past wicked self is no longer who I am.’”19

Let me conclude with an example from the Book of Mormon of both a change of name and a change of heart. After King Benjamin taught his people, and they believed his words and were willing to “enter into a covenant with . . . God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things . . ., all the remainder of [their] days,”20 he made a direct connection between a change of name and a change of heart. Here’s what King Benjamin said to them:

And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.21

So much doctrine is packed into that statement. The people of King Benjamin collectively, as it were, were renamed. They were all called—and became—the children of Christ, His daughters and His sons. Their covenant with Christ brought a change of name.

Their desire to enter into that covenant, which came from their faith in the sacred name of Jesus Christ and which was confirmed by the Holy Ghost, also changed their hearts. They testified that the Spirit had assured them of the truth of King Benjamin’s words and that it had “wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”22

Even with all our personal effort and our interconnectedness as a community of disciples of Jesus Christ, our change of heart will be complete only when we have the name of Jesus Christ written on our hearts. Our eternal destiny will turn on whether “the Spirit of the living God” has engraved Christ’s name, “not in tables of stone, but in [the] fleshy tables of [our] heart[s].”23 Our divine identity as daughters and sons of Heavenly Parents will be most fully realized when we also become the children of Christ, His daughters and His sons.

I testify that Jesus Christ invites all of us “to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female.”24 He remembers all of us, and “all are alike unto God.” Far more important than the names on your transcript or your diploma—whether your own name or the name of your college—is the change of heart that can come through your effort and your connections with others. As we, collectively and individually, “remember to retain the name [of Christ] written always in [our] hearts,” we will “hear and know the voice by which [we] shall be called, and also, the name by which He shall call [us.]”25

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] See .

[2] Isaiah 5:26.

[3] See Topical Guide, Ensign.

[4] Joy D. Jones, “An Especially Noble Calling,” Ensign, May 2020.

[5] English poetic meter helps explain why Barbara Jane sounded better to us. One core component of a poem, or even a name, is its combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. We preferred a dactylic or trochaic rhythm rather than an essentially spondaic one. Of course, careful observers will also note that, since Jane has never gone by Barbara, her preferred name, Jane Sandberg, ended up being essentially spondaic anyway.

[6] Acts 4:12; Mosiah 3:17. See also Dallin H. Oaks, His Holy Name (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1998). Two examples of divinely directed name changes are Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:5) and Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17:15–16).

[7] 1 Samuel 16:7.

[8] 2 Nephi 31:20.

[9] Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), xv, xix.

[10] Alma 5:14.

[11] Alma 5:26.

[12] Alma 17:2.

[13] Alma 17:2–3.

[14] Alma 32:37, 41.

[15] Jones, “An Especially Noble Calling.”

[16] Dale G. Renlund, “Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God,” Ensign, May 2020.

[17] William Shakespeare, As You Like It, act 4, scene 3, line 112.

[18] Shakespeare, As You Like It, lines 135–36.

[19] Dale G. Renlund, “Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying,” Ensign, May 2015.

[20] Mosiah 5:5.

[21] Mosiah 5:7 (emphasis added).

[22] Mosiah 5:2.

[23] 2 Corinthians 3:3.

[24] 2 Nephi 26:33.

[25] Mosiah 5:12.

Devotionals are streamed online on the Church's website ( each Tuesday at 11:15 a.m.


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