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Become Zion through love and learning, President Worthen directs

Speaking to BYU faculty and staff, President Kevin J Worthen reflected on a prophecy from John Taylor and shared how to use learning to become more Zion-like.

The prophecy from John Taylor declares: “You will see the day that Zion will be as far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters.”

Added Worthen, “It is possible that we will fulfill the destiny outlined in President Taylor’s prophecy only to the extent that we become more Zion-like, both as individuals and as a campus community." 

Becoming more Zion-like is to become more motivated by charity, or love, shared Worthen. Adapted from previous BYU-Hawaii president John Tanner, he shared three places where this motivational love should be directed:

  1. Field of study
  2. Students
  3. The Savior, including the truths of his restored gospel

President Worthen acknowledged that balancing between study and students can be difficult, but that it is necessary. He suggested that one way to bring those loves together is to “directly involve students in our research or otherwise share with them our excitement and love for what we are doing in that realm.” He also promised that a university shaped by the love of Christ would enhance the love of both study and students.

He shared examples of ways faculty at BYU are already embracing charity. 

To teach and change lives in powerful ways, individuals must be willing to change, repent and reorient their lives to focus their love on what matters most, emphasized Worthen.

Worthen then shared the story of J. Reuben Clark, who was able to change and teach from a place of love. Clark loved learning and focused his efforts on his career. Later in life, he refocused, bringing more love and attention to his family. When he was called to the First Presidency, Clark further shifted his efforts and love to God.

“Now, none of us are likely to have as dramatic a paradigm shift as J. Reuben Clark experienced, but if we are to not only fit into but help create a more Zion-like university, all of us will need to view our careers more with our hearts (filled with love) and a little less with strivings to succeed in a world that may not comprehend us,” said Worthen.

“This is not a simple task. It requires not only that we collectively be of one mind and one heart, but also that our hearts be pure. ‘For this is Zion – the pure in heart.’ We will each need to change to some degree; we will each need to be better.  We will each need to work harder. We will each need to be more spiritual. But, the good news of the gospel is that we can change; that we can improve; that we can become better, holier people. And as we do so, our efforts will inspire and improve those around us.”

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