Elder Gerrit W. Gong, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at Tuesday’s devotional. He shared lessons that BYU students are learning right now that he anticipates they will be thankful for in the future.
Elder Gong began with a story, sharing a time he was grateful for his BYU education.
On a flight to New York, Elder Gong sat next to a woman who was an Italian-English translator. His knowledge from BYU general education classes allowed them to discuss Italian art – her language of love.
Because of his knowledge, the woman felt that Elder Gong was listening with his heart and shared the sorrow of her son’s death. For the rest of the flight, the two spoke about God’s plan of happiness and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Thank you, BYU, for teaching general education and the language of the heart,” said Elder Gong. “Such enriches our lives and, in unexpected times and places, allows us to connect with others in ways they understand and value.”
Elder Gong then invited students to participate in a thought experiment with him. He invited them to look backward from the future in 2040 onto their lives now. What did they learn in 2018 that they use and value in 2040? He suggested four lessons.
First lesson: We are learning how to learn by the Spirit.
The year 2018 is full of fast-paced economic and global changes, said Elder Gong. Learning by the Spirit in these times involves doing small and simple things. At BYU, those small and simple gestures might include: going to class; choosing friends and environments that encourage learning; and learning facts, skills and attitudes.
Second lesson: We are learning how to choose and decide how best to prepare for eternity.
“As students, we understand limited time, energy and opportunity require wise decisions among good, better and best choices,” said Elder Gong.
Students learn from their own decisions about keeping regular holy habits (including prayer, meal time, going to the temple, attending devotional and serving in ward callings). Listening to the Holy Ghost and seeking perfection in Christ also prepares students for eternity.
Preparing for eternity involves striving for a consecrated, sacramental life, said Elder Gong.
Third lesson: We are learning to offer global experience that can contribute to every nation, kindred and tongue.
In 2018, BYU encourages students to see the world as their campus, where they can contribute and serve, said Elder Gong.
BYU students come from 50 US states and over 100 countries. On campus, 62 languages are taught and 126 languages are spoken. Sixty-five percent of BYU students speak a second language. Elder Gong suggested that those language skills help students learn to speak in the nuance of specific disciplines across cultures, time zones, work flows and values.
Fourth lesson: We are learning to seek spiritual strengthening.
There are ebbs and flows in intellectual disciplines, said Elder Gong, which makes revelation an important constant in learning.
“We are grateful our BYU education gave us perspective and understanding to know we can address some questions and issues now, while other issues or questions may require resolution over time with additional understanding, experience or information,” said Elder Gong.
Spiritual strengthening at BYU teaches students to trust God and to cherish Christlike attributes.
Elder Gong concluded by saying, “Looking backward from the future is a remembrance of things to come. It is an invitation to prepare now for a future that will be here tomorrow.
“We can begin today. It may be as simple as deciding to go to class or finding new ways to learn how to learn with the Spirit.”
Next Devotional: Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President
Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will deliver the next BYU Devotional on Tuesday, October 23, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.
His remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYU Radio and will be archived on speeches.byu.edu.