President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen welcomed students back for the Winter semester at Tuesday's Devotional address in the Marriott Center.
Sister Worthen shared a few thoughts about how students can improve their ability to communicate. President Worthen followed, inviting students to enhance their knowledge of truth and their ability to discern it.
"The BYU Mission Statement emphasizes the importance of clear communication," Sister Worthen said. "My New Year’s plea for you is that you emphasize this part of your education this year."
After sharing a personal and humbling story about the need for effective communication, Sister Worthen suggested three simple ways for students to accomplish her challenge of communicating effectively:
1. Listen more closely and pay attention to those speaking, even if that means putting away distractions.
2. Understand the potential impact of the words and expressions you share with others. Personal communication is best expressed in an environment without worry of hostile responses.
3. Remember the most important form of communication – praying to Heavenly Father.
"Not only will He listen to our prayers and answer them when we ask for His help, but He will teach us through His example how to become better listeners and communicators," Sister Worthen said. "He can help us develop the skills we need to communicate effectively."
President Worthen started his address by citing "post-truth" as the 2016 Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year. Post-truth is an adjective defined as "denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." President Worthen acknowledged that finding truth in a post-truth world can be challenging among massive amounts of data and information easily accessible to everyone around the world via the internet.
"Truth does exist, it can be discerned, and a major part of your purpose here at BYU is to enhance your knowledge of the truth and your ability to discern it," said President Worthen. "A major part of our purpose in this mortal existence is to enhance and refine our ability to discern, apply and ultimately internalize truth."
Recognizing the necessary role that study plays in understanding truth, President Worthen also pointed to the role that faith should play in acquiring truth, especially for students attending BYU.
"Faith seems to be a God-granted way of discerning truth before one has perfect knowledge of the matter," President Worthen said. "The fact that faith is a lesser-known means of discerning truth should not obscure the reality that it is, in the long run, more reliable than mere rational argument, which depends on the experience and limited reasoning abilities of imperfect, mortal beings."
President Worthen suggested four ways to better distinguish truth from falsehood:
1. Consider the source
2. Consider the context
3. Be patient with yourself and the process of seeking truth
4. Draw closer to the source of all truth and light – Jesus Christ
"He is the Truth. He, and only He, can lead you to all truth," President Worthen said. "If you will focus on Him in your pursuit of truth, you will succeed here and beyond."
Next Devotional: Brother Douglas D. Holmes, Young Men General Presidency
The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Brother Douglas D. Holmes, First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Tuesday, January 17, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.
His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYUradio.