I am honored and delighted to have been invited to spend a few minutes with you today in this devotional. I am grateful to President and Sister Kusch and all who serve with them, including many dear friends and associates. I thank each of you for your kindness in extending this invitation, and I hope to be of some service.
During their first devotional address this semester, President and Sister Kusch provided significant and practical counsel on living in uncertain times, especially when isolated from those we love. They invited and reminded us to look both inward and outward to see and be a part of the hand of the Lord in bringing about His purposes. I was moved by Sister Kusch's counsel, "Good circumstances do not guarantee righteousness, and likewise, difficult situations do not cause us to turn away from God."1
President Kusch taught many inspiring things during his address. I was particularly inspired by his counsel to, "Forgive more freely and strive to let go of anger or malice toward someone who may have wronged us." And, as he continued: "The true test of a Christian life is how we live the gospel not only when it is convenient, but especially when it is not."2
As part of the mission of LDS Business College, it is essential to become "capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ."3 Important aspects of our discipleship are how we live our lives, make choices, improve or repent, plan for the future and, most importantly, love and serve God and each other.
For better or for worse, we live in times of contrasts and tensions that sometimes make it difficult to make appropriate choices for our lives. Referring to these challenging, uncertain and yet glorious times, President Russell M. Nelson recently remarked, "These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways."4
President Nelson's message of hope not only inspires me but also provides an additional witness of the Lord's love for us. The Lord is in the heart and details of the plan for our eternal happiness.
As part of my day-to-day work with college students, I am often asked to provide counsel on whether or not a specific major or an academic plan is a good idea for future success. These discussions are occasionally prompted by struggles in a particular class or being overwhelmed by the subject matter or even the amount of work necessary to succeed. Some, however, are simply in need for verification or validation that the current path or plan will lead to a job or personal fulfillment.
While these conversations usually include some elements of prior experience, hopes and dreams for the future, they also sometimes include individual impressions that have come through sincere prayer and thoughtful study.
Please allow me to share some insights or principles that have come up as I have sat in council with great students hoping to make good choices. These are not new principles, but I believe each provides an important reminder and a basis in which we might find answers to questions about our present and future concerns. As I share a few common questions, associated principles and even some quick self-assessments to determine if we are on the right track, I invite you to consider the manner of the Lord. In so doing, I earnestly desire the presence of the Holy Ghost to edify in ways that are meaningful to you individually, even though I speak generally.
The first question and associated principles are, in reality, two questions and a relatively short, but significant principle. The questions are: "What should I become, and why is it important?"
As recording in 3 Nephi 27:27, Jesus said to his disciples: "What manner of men (and I add women) ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am."5 It is that simple. When considering what to do or what to become, please think beyond a career, title or position, and answer yourself, "even as Jesus Christ." That is the heart of it all. We are to be like the Savior!
That being stated, I find the Savior's statement in the following verse highly instructive. Immediately after telling the newly called disciples to become as He is, Jesus declares: "And now I go unto the Father."6 Think of those three statements together: "What manner of men and women ought ye to be?" "Even as I am." "And now I go unto the Father."
The simplicity and depth of these statements should not go unnoticed. Whatever we feel about our earthly goals, our real goal is to become like Jesus Christ so that we, like Him, can "go unto the Father."
When asking what kind of career, major or academic plan you should pursue, focus on how this choice helps you become more like the Savior so you can return to Heavenly Father. It may not be so important what your choice is but more about whether your choice can help you live in the manner of the Lord.
The following is the first of a few test questions you can give yourself when trying to make critical choices in your life:
1. Will my choice help me love and serve God and others?
2. Will my choice help me build the kingdom of God on the earth in preparation for the Lord's second coming?
3. Will my choice help me make and keep sacred covenants with the Lord?
Answering "no" to any of these should be an indication that you are not currently on the Lord's path or making a correct choice in the manner of the Lord.
The second question or conversation that comes up in my interactions with students is more of a how or a process question. It is generally stated as: "What do I need to do to be successful?"
In regards to success, it is important to consider what the Lord would have us do. The Lord's manner of doing things, however, is usually not the same as popular opinion, convenience or sometimes even the way we have previously learned.
Consider the example of the ball of curious workmanship that guided Lehi and his family in the wilderness. Nephi recorded the ball only worked "according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it."7 I can imagine the entire family of Lehi taking turns shaking the ball, turning it around in circles and maybe even poking it with sticks trying to figure out how to make it work. They learned through experience, however, that the Lord's manner is based on faith, diligence and small means.
Another example is how Nephi was commanded to build a ship in which he "did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men" but "did work timbers of curious workmanship" where the Lord gave instructions "from time to time."8 While the Lord's manner does not always defer to the way something has been done before, it does seem always to include an aspect of gentle guidance "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" leading toward wisdom and the capacity to receive more.9
Here is another simple test you can give yourself to see if you are finding success. It only includes two questions:
1. Do I recognize the hand of the Lord in my life through small and simple things?
2. Is the Lord giving me additional commandments and showing me how I might improve while guiding me line upon line?
Again, answering "no" to either of these questions might be a sign you are currently off the Lord's path or not following in the manner of the Lord. Answering “yes” indicates success.
The third type of question or question area students ask might be a little more sensitive to resolve because it could reveal more profound concerns. Have you ever asked yourself or others these questions? "Why should I pass this class, or why should I even graduate?" "Won't the Lord make it all work out if I just read the scriptures and pray?" "Does it even matter?"
These types of questions could reflect a general sense of several specific concerns. Some of the deeper concerns might include rebellion, contention or other types of sin. It might also include ignorance or even the loss of hope because of hurt from others. That being the case, the answers to these very real and deeper concerns are included in a further understanding and acceptance of the Atonement of Christ, where living in the manner of the Lord is crucial.
On another level, it is important to understand that while the manner of the Lord is sometimes contrary to the manner of men, it does not excuse us from learning all we can from the best available sources. We learn quickly from Oliver Cowdery's experience in attempting to translate portions of the Book of Mormon, that concepts of study and learning are essential to the manner of the Lord.10 Unfortunately, we live in a time long-ago prophesied by the Apostle Paul in which we would be "ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of," and even resisting, "the truth."11 Perhaps because of popular opinion driven by ignorance or even "in consequence of evils and designs,"12 truth and understanding are becoming increasingly difficult to discern. How are we to survive, let alone truly learn in such a time?
It should be no wonder that the Lord, “knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth," 13 has established His Church, led by apostles and prophets, even seers and revelators, to help us better understand His manner, His will and His love. It should be no wonder that through the ordinances and covenants of His restored Church, we are baptized by authority and receive the Holy Ghost as a revelator, comforter and personal instructor. It should be no wonder that we have sacred scriptures providing doctrine, counsel and principles that span the ages. It should also be no wonder that we are commanded to "teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom"14 and words of wisdom from "the best books" and to "seek learning, even by study and also by faith."15 Indeed, this is the crowning blessing of a "school in Zion"16 or any place of learning in which we can keep our focus on becoming like Christ and returning to Heavenly Father. Such learning provides the opportunity to encounter appropriate challenges and to discover truth through the study by faith and inquiry in the manner of the Lord.
Here is a final test you can give yourself to see if you authentically value the challenges and rewards of living in the manner of the Lord:
1. Am I developing a sense of trust in the Lord and replacing all aspects of rebellion, contention and other sins of pride, with pure love for God and others?
2. Am I gaining wisdom by understanding the power of patience and respect for the process of the plan of happiness?
3. Is my learning drawing me to the Savior and a desire to return to Heavenly Father?
Answering "yes" to any of these indicates you are living in the manner of the Lord.
My dear brothers and sisters, I offer my witness that as we come to a better understanding of, and align ourselves with, the manner of the Lord, we will be more able to become like Him. In so doing, our choices will be sanctified, and we will be purified through the Atonement of our Savior. We will receive His name that we may return to the presence of our Heavenly Father and all who are with Him. This is the goal and process of our careers. This is the goal of our happiness and fulfillment in this life and beyond. It is the goal of our salvation in the presence of God. I so declare in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1 Sister Alynda Kusch, LDS Business College Devotional, 21 April 2020.
2 President Bruce C. Kusch, LDS Business College Devotional, 21 April 2020.
3 “About.” LDS Business College, www.ldsbc.edu/about.
4 “President Nelson Shares Hopeful Message as Coronavirus Outbreak Continues.” Church News and Events, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/president-nelson-shares-hopeful-message-as-coronavirus-outbreak-continues?lang=eng.
5 3 Nephi 27:27
6 3 Nephi 27:28
7 1 Nephi 16:28-29
8 1 Nephi 18:1-2
9 2 Nephi 28:30
10 Doctrine and Covenants 9
11 2 Timothy 3:7-8
12 Doctrine and Covenants 89:4
13 Doctrine and Covenants 1:17(17-28)
14 Doctrine and Covenants 88:77
15 Doctrine and Covenants 88:118
16 Doctrine and Covenants 97:3-5
Devotionals are streamed online on the Church's website (https://ldsbc.in/devotional) each Tuesday at 11:15 a.m.