SALT LAKE CITY — Decades after he was enrolled as a student at LDS Business College, Elder Russell M. Nelson received the college's highest honor and addressed graduates in the Tabernacle on Temple Square during the school's commencement services Thursday. This year marks the school's 125th year of operation with a graduating class of 486 graduates from more than 70 different countries.
"It is true that I was once enrolled as a student at LDS Business College," said Elder Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "But I did not qualify for a diploma. So you graduates are ahead of me. You received your diplomas here while you are still young."
Elder Nelson, this years Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, enrolled at the LDS Business college in 1941 to learn Gregg shorthand. Although he did not complete a degree at LDS Business College, the skills he learned as a student helped him in different employment opportunities and throughout his life.
"Today it seems somewhat ironic that these graduation exercises bare the designation, 'commencement exercises,'" he said. "Commencement means to begin or to start, not to finish. Actually, commencement is a good term, because you are literally just beginning. Today is truly the first day of the rest of your life. Today is a hinge-point in your own life history."
Elder Nelson spoke to the graduates about the importance of goal setting.
"This is a perfect time to set your priorities in order and make certain that you move in the right direction," he said. "You don't want to be like the man who climbed the ladder of success only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall."
It is the efforts an individual makes to become — rather than on tasks to do — that are important, Elder Nelson said.
"You will have goals," Elder Nelson said. "Some of those goals are great, some are greater and one is greatest."
Great goals relate to temporal attainment, such as passing tests and finishing courses to eventually receive a college diploma.
Greater goals, Elder Nelson said, relate to the development of attributes of one's character and are important in an individual becoming who they ought to become.
"Heading the list of greater goals would be the attribute of love, including its related qualities of kindness, compassion, courtesy, civility and mercy," he said.
The greatest goal, he said, is the goal of eternal life.
"One goal, and one goal alone, should become your greatest goal," he said. "What is that? That goal is the goal of eternal life. That goal is God's goal. That goal is God's glory."
Individuals achieve the greatest goal by keeping the commandments of God and enduring to the end.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, on this day of commencement I wish you well," Elder Nelson said. "Pursue your goals, great, greater and greatest, to the end that you may qualify for exaltation and eternal life in the presence of your Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, with your families."
LDS Business College President J. Lawrence Richards also spoke, encouraging graduates to seek after good things.
"Take your LDS Business College education and, in a world with ever-declining morals, integrity and ethics, we charge you to stand," Richards said. "Stand for the qualities and character traits that make you unique in all the world and truly valued by those who can still tell the difference between the norms of the day and lasting qualities of character and leadership."