BYU–Hawaii Graduates Advised to Live with Integrity
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
“Can you and will you justify your credentials by your character?” Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy asked audience members at the Brigham Young University–Hawaii commencement exercises on April 13.
“Brothers and sisters, it might be possible to cut corners on credentials, but it is very difficult to cut corners on character,” he said.
Drawing from the biography of President Thomas S. Monson, Elder Maynes told of one of President Monson’s classmates who was not honest in taking tests at school. He was able to get away with his dishonest behavior for a short while, but eventually his habits caught up with him and caused him to fail his class, keeping him in school for another year to fulfill graduation requirements.
“In this particular example the student’s character caught up with him before he received his credentials,” he said. “However, you can see clearly how easy it might have been for him to have deceived his way through graduation. In that case his character surely would not justify his credentials.”
Drawing again from President Monson’s words, Elder Maynes quoted: “During the last half century, there has been in this country a gradual but continual retreat from standards of excellence in many phases of our life. We observe business without morality, science without conscience, politics without principle, wealth without works.”
Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks at BYU–Hawaii’s commencement exercises on April 13. Photo by Monique Saenz.
Elder Maynes then continued with President Monson’s counsel: “Refuse to compromise with expedience. Maintain the courage to defy the consensus. Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. By so doing, you will not detour, but rather will ever remain on the way to perfection.”
Choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong means being true to the covenants made with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, Elder Maynes taught.
“There is nothing more important in life than being true to the covenants or promises we have made with the Lord,” he said. “Our eternal life depends on the principle of honesty—honesty with the Lord.”
Partaking of the sacrament each week is a reminder of how important those covenants are, he said. As individuals honestly take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments, they are worthy of the Spirit. That is a great blessing and gift. When individuals break a commandment, they are breaking their word, promises, and covenants and are dishonest with the Lord.
“In today’s culture the principle of honesty seems to be seldom talked about and often abused,” he said. “The world is filled with the false tradition of corruption—corruption in government, corruption in business, and even corruption in athletics. Honesty, it seems, must take a back seat to the worldly aspiration of getting ahead at any cost.”
Disciples of Jesus Christ have a solemn obligation to live the principles taught by Jesus Christ, he declared.
“When we speak of justifying our credentials with our character, we primarily focus on one of the most basic of all Christian principles—integrity,” he said. “Is it possible to succeed in this world and at the same time be honest with the Lord and true to your covenants? I believe it is.”
Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy walks toward commencement at BYU–Hawaii’s graduation exercises on April 13. Photo by Monique Saenz.
Elder Maynes shared a personal experience from his professional career in which he had to make a tough—and expensive—decision to honor his word. Although it cost his company more money, they followed through with the original agreement and honored their word. For years after, this one experience brought in business because it gave their company the reputation with others that they had integrity and were honest in their dealings.
“When we are honest with our fellowman, we are, in fact, keeping our covenants,” he said. “When we keep our covenants, we are at the same time being honest with the Lord. We cannot separate the two.”
Sometimes even Latter-day Saints try to live in two worlds, the world of truth and the world of false traditions, he said.
“As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are expected to be righteous, not just appear to be righteous,” he said. “What we believe and what we say and what we do should all be the same.
“A person of integrity does not cover his or her flaws in order to look good to the outside world. A person of integrity repents of behavior unbecoming a member of the Church, embraces and lives new habits and lifestyles, and tries to eliminate the flaws in his or her character. In other words, we continually strive to justify our credentials with our character.”