PROVO — Individuals must be a force for good in a world that desperately needs it, Elder Richard G. Scott told more than 6,000 Brigham Young University graduates and their supporters on Thursday afternoon.
Students from every U.S. state and 72 different countries listened to the apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he spoke during commencement exercises in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus.
"This world is in serious trouble," Elder Scott said. "The fundamental values of this nation are being undermined. There is a continual crumbling of principle, virtue, integrity and religious values — the foundation stones of civilization and the definitive ingredients of peace and happiness."
But despite the difficulties in the world, it is a solid foundation of faith, character and integrity that will help individuals find peace, joy and purpose in life, Elder Scott said.
"God uses your faith to mold your character," he said. "Character is woven patiently from threads of doctrine, principle and obedience. Character is the manifestation of what you are becoming. Your character will be the yardstick that God will use to determine how well you have used your mortal life.
"Strong character is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what goals you have accomplished. Your consistent exercise of faith builds strong character. In turn, fortified confidence in conquering the trials of life."
Elder Scott shared ten specific points to help individuals to successfully developing their character and find joy in life.
1. Establish a set of principles to guide every aspect of life — home, church service, profession and community.
"Many people try to compartmentalize their lives and have a standard for Church, another standard for what they do in business, and in other aspects of their life," Elder Scott said. "I very strongly counsel you not to do that. There really is only one set of standards that make sense. Those are the teachings of Jesus Christ which signal to us the importance of faith, service, obedience and integrity."
2. Don't make exceptions to your standards. "Never compromise them," he said. "Be loyal to the teachings that you have received here and have received from your parents. They are the things of greatest worth. ... If you integrate that with what you know about the teachings of the Lord, examples of those worthy people who are role models to you, you will have a solid foundation and you will be productive and do things that are worthwhile for others."
3. Be loyal. Elder Scott said that individuals must be loyal to the BYU campus, parents, loved ones and above all, the Savior. "Success comes when your actions are consistent with the teachings of the Lord," he said. "When you seek work find someone who challenges you, who raises you to higher levels of performance.
4. Live so that the Lord can guide you to where He wants you to serve. "Let the Lord guide you," he said. "He an do that if you live His commandments worthily and strive in every way to be obedient to His teachings."
5. Serve others. "Sharing what you know with others will bring you happiness and bless their lives."
6. Smile. "You will soon learn that everybody has problems and nobody wants to hear about yours," he said. "When you put those things aside and smile, have a good sense of humor as the prophets do. . . . A sense of humor helps you greatly."
7. Don't complain. "Life isn't always fair. That's a fact. But it's always charged with marvelous opportunities if you know how to find them."
8. Always have a church assignment. "Wherever you go in the world, wherever the Lord takes you, always offer your service to the presiding authority. Leave it to that authority to decide where and how. Be connected with the things of God and the ways to serve Him."
9. Go to the temple. "Carry a current temple recommend. . . . It will keep you spiritually in tune, will allow you to remember the most important things of life and encourage you to give great service to others."
10. Use the Savior, Jesus Christ as your example for life. "Use His teachings as your handbook for life. Never make exceptions to them. "
As individuals follow these suggestions, they strengthen their foundation of faith and are more able to lead others to do the same.
"Come to know of the great influence for good that flows from individual acts born of conscience and principle rooted in truth," he said. "Resolve that each moment of your life will reflect your determination to humbly be an example of righteousness, integrity and conviction."
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson, BYU President and member of the Seventy, spoke to graduates about the aims of a BYU education, and the importance role it plays in becoming spiritually strengthened, enlarging their intellect and building one's character.
"More than ever, you will be your own teacher and will create your own tests and quizzes," Elder Samuelson said. "Some of what you learned at BYU will be timeless, but other specifics, facts or approaches . . . will change over time and you must be able to keep up ... As your lives become even more demanding and complicated, your integrity and honor will come under ever-increasing attacks. Thus, you must continue to build and strengthen your character upon the already firm foundation of honesty, dependability and reliability."
Other speakers included Chris Feinauer, BYU Alumni Association president, and graduate Paige Crosland Anderson. College convocations were scheduled to be held Friday in various locations on the BYU campus.
BYU Graduation numbers
Total degrees: 6185
Bachelor Degree: 5271
Master Degree: 715
Doctor Degree: 199
December 2010: 1645
Bachelor Degree: 1468
Master Degree: 143
Doctor Degree: 34
April 2011: 4540
Bachelor Degree: 3803
Master Degree: 572
Doctor Degree: 165
Male: 3301 (53.4 percent)
Female: 2884 (46.6 percent)
Oldest student: 73 years old
All 50 states were represented, two territories and 72 other countries