President and Sister Worthen welcomed students back to campus for the Fall semester at the Devotional Tuesday in the Marriott Center. Sister Worthen shared several life-lessons about leadership. President Worthen followed, encouraging students to be influenced by the positive experiences they can have while at BYU.
"I hope you all realize how much potential you have," Sister Worthen said to students. "You are all future leaders. You will lead in the Church, you will lead in businesses, you will lead in communities, you will lead in volunteer efforts and, most importantly, you will lead in your families. One of the things I hope you learn here is how to be better leaders. If you do, you will be an enormous force for good."
With that introduction, Sister Worthen shared three lessons she's learned about leadership through telling a story about how she reacted when her son locked the keys in the car. She and her family were on vacation years ago when her son got something out of the car and accidentally locked the keys in the car.
"Yes, upon hearing the brave confession of my young son, I responded in a way that corresponded more to his age than mine," she said. "I threw a tantrum. I raised my voice, I kicked the car tire. I let my emotions take over."
As she's reflected on this experience, Sister Worthen said she learned three things that can help in developing leadership skills: we can learn from mistakes, we can learn from the examples of others and we can learn how a leader's actions set the tone for others.
"In every situation – even those that are packed with high emotion – we all have our agency to choose how to act," she said. "There is always a space, or an instant, in which we decide whether we will put out the fire or ignite the fuse."
Sister Worthen encouraged students to learn more that what is taught in the classroom and look for ways to lead.
"As future leaders, it is my hope that as you obtain your formal education here at BYU you too will strive to learn from your mistakes and from the examples of others and choose to set a peaceful tone for those around you – especially in times of crisis," she said. "As you do so, I am confident that you will obtain those qualities that will help you to be true leaders and become an enormous force for good."
The Light of the Y
When the new students arrived on campus two weeks ago, they gathered to form of the Y at LaVell Edwards Stadium. This tradition, President Worthen, said is a great symbol of what is important about the work that is accomplished at BYU.
"This is a wonderful symbolic reminder that you, the students, are the Y, meaning you are both the reason why we exist as a university and, for those with whom you interact, the embodiment of what BYU stands for," he said. "You represent the Y wherever you go."
The students who come to BYU reflect a light made of good choices and good influences, said President Worthen. Now it's up to them to take their BYU experience and grow that light.
"My invitation to you today is that you enhance that light during your experience at BYU – or more precisely – that you enhance that light because of your experience at BYU – that you let the Y light you," he said.
He expounded by sharing four ways to accomplish this invitation.
1. Understand the source of light and your responsibility
"The reason [Jesus Christ] provides that light is not just to help you, but also to help you help others... When you accomplish something significant at BYU – which I hope happens often – think first of how what you have done can help others, not just how it might impress them. Maybe instead of bragging to your classmates about how well you did on an exam, you might humbly find ways to help them prepare for the next exam. If you do, you will increase their – and your – understanding of the subject. You will also increase their – and your – faith in the goodness of God and of His children."
2. Reflect Christ in your daily life
"One of the principal reasons for our Honor Code [is] to create an environment in which we are reminded of the kind of individuals and community we hope to become, a community reflecting the teachings of the Savior. In that regard, I call particular attention to our personal and collective commitment to treat with respect, dignity and love all those with whom we interact, both on and off campus, including and especially, those with whom we may disagree even on very important matters.
"While others, perhaps well-intentioned, may deride us and our values, we must respond the way the Savior did, without compromising either eternal truths and values or the eternal reality that 'all human beings' are 'beloved spirit son[s]' and 'daughter[s] of heavenly parents,' each with 'a divine nature and destiny.'
"Our Mission Statement makes clear that 'all relationships within the BYU community should reflect devout love of God and a loving, genuine concern for the welfare of our neighbor.' The light of the Y will be most evident in your lives if we live in accordance with that charge, and all the other principles of the Honor Code to which you have committed your integrity."
3. Discover and develop you talents and skills while at BYU
"I am... confident that you don’t know all the talents you have. And the only way you can know that is to explore a variety of topics (which our general education requirement encourages you to do) and to take some chances in doing new things that may stretch you in new ways. Don’t become so concerned with protecting your GPA that you miss out on one of the most exciting parts of your education – discovering and enhancing the gifts God gave you so that you can better serve Him and His children.
"Because your gifts are individually tailored to you, don’t measure your progress or importance by comparing yourselves to others. Such comparisons will not only cause you to miss out on some of the important things you can learn from others, it will also interfere with your ability to develop productive, joyful relationships with the many good people around you."
4. Never underestimate the power your light can have on others
"The lighthouse of God's love for his children is ever present, and never moving – it is constant and always available. Some people will see it and will be drawn to it, but they may not know how to get to it. Your example may provide the lower lights they need to see the safe passage. More may depend on how you use you time at BYU than just your own well-being. The light you gain here may influence others for eternity.
"I urge you to let the Y light you in such a way that you are filled with that light. You will then be successful not only in this particular educational endeavor, but also in the rest of your life."
Next Devotional: Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Tuesday, September 13, 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 BYU Radio.
Writer: Trevor Morgan