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BYU Devotional: Preparation is necessary to accomplish great things

Illustrator, painter and professor Robert Barrett spoke at Tuesday's BYU Devotional about work, preparation and sacrifice in order to accomplish great things.

“As children of our Heavenly Father, we must make more effort than to simply ask Him,” said Barrett. “We must put forth effort and prepare before He can guide us.”

Barrett reviewed Michelangelo, Norman Rockwell and other artists. Each artist used many sketches, the preparatory work, to prepare to create their fantastic paintings and sculptures.

He spoke of LDS art missionaries who studied in Paris before they painted murals and other artwork for the various temples. The art missionaries learned that sacrifice and patience were part of good education.

Oliver Cowdry tried to do something monumental (translate the Book of Mormon), but he failed perhaps in part due to lack of preparation.

 “The Lord expects His children to do their homework on a problem, consider the options, and then make a decision,” said Barrett. “Then, and only then, are they able to take their decisions to the Lord and ask Him if what they have decided to do is right.”

Barrett recalled a time when he did not prepare adequately and failed. He failed his review for his master's degree. Because of that failure, he researched and prepared a better argument. His artistic work also developed more interpretation and concept. He passed his second review and is grateful for the things he learned from that failure.

“I routinely tell my students that if they want to progress rapidly in the gaining of new skills and different ways of seeing, they must be willing to leave their ‘comfort zones’ and work on the very edge of their capabilities,” said Barrett.

Just as artists preserve stories through visual representation, telling stories to family keeps families strong.

“One of the most basic functions of a story is to teach and when we tell stories about ourselves, we are imagining our possible futures and, hopefully, helping ourselves choose the best ones,” said Barrett.

In conclusion, Barrett explained in his own experience, and that of artists, storytellers and early LDS apostles, more than courage and endurance are required to experience great achievement; the Lord expects us to prepare and study to be able to accomplish great tasks.

“We will only know if the course we are pursuing is correct by first choosing it and then asking God if we are on the right course,” said Barrett.

Next Devotional: Brianna Magnusson, Professor of Public Health

Brianna Magnusson, professor of Public Health, will deliver the next BYU Devotional on Tuesday, May 15 at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.

Magnusson's remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYU Radio, and will be archived on

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