The Reeses shared how being “doers of the word” and having “eyes to see” can help us become better disciples of Christ.
President C. Shane Reese and Sister Wendy Reese welcomed students and employees back to campus with the first devotional of the winter 2024 semester on Tuesday at the BYU Marriott Center.
Sister Reese spoke of being doers of the word and not hearers only. President Reese focused his remarks on having the “eyes to see,” to become the BYU of prophecy.
One key trait of a disciple of Jesus Christ is following the Father's will, said Sister Reese. The Apostle James further emphasized the importance of not just hearing the word of the Lord but also acting upon it.
“I love how James teaches us so clearly that to understand our true nature, we need to be doers of the word and not just hearers. He also describes that even if we feel that our efforts are only a feeble offering, when we are doing the will of the Lord, we will be ‘blessed in [our] deed.’”
Shift in Mindset
To truly become “doers of the word,” we must shift our mindset beyond the mere accumulation of knowledge, said Sister Reese. She explained that faith remains dormant when confined to intellectual understanding alone.
“Living the gospel, acting on promptings from the Spirit or heeding the words of prophets and apostles draws us closer to the Savior and strengthens our testimony of Him.”
Examples of Doers
"For me, President Reese is an example of a doer. Recently, our stake president encouraged us to be more intentionally friendly and kinder. He asked us to wave to everyone we pass in our cars. Shane took this to heart! He not only heard the invitation from the stake president, he actually tried to do it every time he saw a car.”
Sister Reese said that regardless of the outcome, his dedication to “doing” strengthened his resolve to be more like the Savior.
The Ultimate Example
The Savior is the perfect example of one who does the Father’s will, said Sister Reese. Acts 10:38 reads that He “went about doing good.”
“Jesus did more than just feel compassion for others. He acted to serve and lift those around Him. Following the example of our Savior by “doing” will help us feel of His love and in turn shows our gratitude and love for Him.”
“God wants us to become like Him. It’s our collective work at BYU to help one other along that journey of discipleship.”
President Reese explained that he hopes that by working together, we can make BYU the university that “prophets past and present have foreseen it would become.”
To do this will require seeing studies and work through a gospel lens. In other words, if we are to become the BYU of prophecy, we will need “eyes to see,” he taught.
“Developing eyes to see allows us to focus resolutely on celestial things, such that our lives are filled with light that chases away the darkness. When the darkness has departed, then we have a deeper understanding of ‘all things.’”
Eyes to See Our Role at BYU
For teachers aiming to enhance students' experiences or for students seeking inspiration, President Reese expressed hope that they involve the Lord in their search. He encouraged them to pray for insight to see themselves as vital and irreplaceable parts of BYU's development.
“For us to be successful, both collectively and individually, at distinguishing ourselves from our peers, we must be deliberate in our focus on our undergraduate teaching mission,” he said. “At BYU, we are as committed to the language of the Spirit as we are to the language of our chosen field of study.”
Eyes to See Others
Since hearing Sister Michelle Craig's talk on developing "eyes to see" in October 2020, President Reese has been reflecting on a story Sister Craig shared about responding to an unexpected prompting. The prompting she received was a result of asking herself two questions, questions that President Reese invited the audience to consider.
“What am I doing that I should stop doing?”
“What am I not doing that I should start doing?”
“Asking these introspective questions and then listening for the promptings of the Holy Ghost for how to act will lead us to look beyond ourselves and to find those we can help.”
President Reese taught that seeing others as Heavenly Father sees them not only allows us to bless those we see, it provides us with an unexpected benefit for ourselves.
“In other words, we will find ourselves by looking first for others and seeking to address their needs. In other words, one of the best forms of self-care is to look first to care for the needs of others.”
Eyes to See Our Divine Identity
President Reese was struck by the emphasis that President Russell M. Nelson placed on the importance of understanding our divine identity as daughters or sons of God, suggesting that this was perhaps the most crucial thing for individuals to learn in mortality.
Reminding the audience of President Nelson's invitation to never allow any identity to take priority over the labels of being a child of God, a child of the covenant and a disciple of Jesus Christ, President Reese added his own testimony.
“I solemnly declare to each of you today that you are literally daughters and sons of God! As we make and keep sacred covenants we are bound to Christ through those covenantal bonds,” President Reese said. “And by virtue of His infinite and atoning sacrifice, He will make more of our lives than we could ever make without Him.”