Speaking on several Christlike attributes they would need following graduation, Elder Vern P. Stanfill, General Authority Seventy, spoke to newly minted alumni of Brigham Young University-Idaho in his commencement address on April 13.
Opening the commencement, which was held in the BYU-Idaho Center in Rexburg, Idaho, President Henry J. Eyring congratulated the graduates and shared that there were 2,297 associates and bachelors degrees awarded that day — 587 of the graduates were online students, 401 of whom were Pathway students. "You are prepared to do great good in a world with great needs," he said.
"As you leave BYU-Idaho, it is with power, perhaps more than you recognize."
Elder Stanfill commended the graduates for their achievements. "You have passed Life 101 and are now ready for new, challenging experiences. By your following the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, your lives will be better than you can even imagine."
To aid their future success, he shared four characteristics and qualities they would need.
Inviting the graduates to stand, Elder Stanfill had them each look to someone who had helped them in their journey of education, face them and wave, blow kisses and let them know how grateful they are.
"Doesn't that make you feel happy?" he asked. "Gratitude is an important gateway to joy. Recognizing from whence our blessings flow will lift us, open our hearts to others and remind us of our worth in the eyes of our benefactors, primarily our Heavenly Father."
When one realizes that his or her life has been blessed by many others, the desire to bless others increases. "The family of God truly depends upon one another, and our Heavenly Father relies upon us to be active participants in blessing the lives of His children," Elder Stanfill said.
"True gratitude produces a clarity of thought that can guide us forward, define our relationships with others and help us in times of trial. It is key to our understanding of the Atonement of the Savior and our eternal success and happiness."
In his career, lawyers have told Elder Stanfill that a potential decision or action was technically legal.
"Yet legality had little to do with the moral rightness of the decision," he said. "We should hold ourselves to a higher standard of complete and perfect integrity. Integrity demands that we consider not only ourselves, but all with whom we may associate and all who may be affected."
Integrity is a quality that cannot be half-lived. It's impossible to be kind of honest, Elder Stanfill said. "But by living the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can become full of integrity."
Those who live by a higher standard of integrity are immediately recognizable in communities and in the workplace, Elder Stanfill said. "If you decide now to be such a person, you will appropriately represent yourself, this university and the Lord's Church throughout your life. Your mind will always be at peace, and you will be left spiritually whole, undiminished and unimpaired."
Students and graduates of BYU-Idaho are a "product of an amazing and unique experience," Elder Stanfill said. "But what will make you extraordinary ... and set you apart in this world is a humble heart."
He advised that students set aside a regular time of introspection in order to understand and feel Heavenly Father's love and see what each of them must still learn and do in order to become more like He is.
Elder Stanfill explained, "Such introspection is not meant to make us feel inadequate or unworthy, but should help us to understand that, even in our seemingly insignificant place in the universe, we are individually valued by a loving Heavenly Father and Savior and that we are an important part of an eternal plan to exalt us all."
"It is paramount in our spiritual progression to recognize that we move through this life not alone but with the rest of God's children and that we have a responsibility to lift and help all around us," Elder Stanfill said. "In short, there are no unkind people in the celestial kingdom."
While kindness and understanding are growing increasingly rare in the world, Elder Stanfill reminded the students, "Never underestimate your ability to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ.
"What we learn when we reach out to those in need, lift those who are faced with adversity or spread happiness in the face of despair is that we are engaged in the work of a loving Heavenly Father, doing exactly as He would have us do. Brothers and sisters, if your desire is to change the world, change a life by helping someone feel closer to the Savior."
Elder Stanfill said that he hoped everyone would leave the proceedings with hope, excitement, determination and love for others. "May you be grateful for all things, full of integrity and humility, and especially, brothers and sisters, be kind."
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