Brother Stephen W. Owen: “I’ll Be What You Want Me to Be”
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- When we allow ourselves to be guided by the Lord, we are shaped for the better.
- Ask yourself, “Where am I spiritually? Where do I want to be?”
- Spend some quiet time in conversation with Heavenly Father.
“But what are you to become? Answering that question is part of the challenge, isn’t it? You might start by asking yourself, ‘Where am I spiritually? Where do I want to be? Am I making any progress in that direction?’” —Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President
Forty years after Brother Stephen W. Owen first walked on what was then the Ricks College campus as a young student, the Young Men General President observed, “BYU–Idaho is still fertile ground in which to nourish seeds of faith.”
Speaking during a campus devotional on November 8, Brother Owen encouraged students to take advantage of their BYU–Idaho experience in their conversion and spiritual progress.
“I know the Lord guided our lives during our years in Rexburg,” Brother Owen said. “He shaped us significantly, and He continues to do so. So I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that this campus has changed so much in 40 years. After all, I’ve changed a lot too.“
His wife, Sister Jane Owen, joined him in speaking to the students. Together they shared personal experiences of learning and growth during their time in Rexburg. Recognizing the changes that have occurred—one being the student body going from 4,500 students to around 18,000—the couple spoke of the great place of learning the university continues to be as students grow and “become.”
“But what are you to become?” Brother Owen asked. “Answering that question is part of the challenge, isn’t it? You might start by asking yourself, ‘Where am I spiritually? Where do I want to be? Am I making any progress in that direction?’”
Using the words of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma, Brother Owen asked, “Have ye experienced [a] mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14).
Recognizing the importance of “self-examination” in progressing spiritually, Brother Owen encouraged listeners to look at their lives and figure out any course changes needed.
“My young friends, I urge you to spend some quiet time in conversation with Heavenly Father,” he said. “Ask Him, ‘What lack I yet?’ The answers may surprise you. The path of conversion—the road between who we are and who Heavenly Father wants us to be—is a long one.”
He acknowledged there will be times in life when a person takes a wrong turn or has a “flat tire” or terrible accident.
“But don’t let any of that discourage you. Learn from the experience; let it humble you. Submit to some tutoring from the Lord,” he said. “And whatever you do, don’t sit stubbornly or demoralized on the side of the road. Do what it takes to get back on the road and keep driving.
“Please remember that the Savior loves you. He has promised, ‘Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.’”
Often, that will mean changing the plans a person has made in favor of His plans, Brother Owen said.
“Brothers and sisters, it is good to have your own plans, but underlying every plan you make should be this one: ‘Regardless of my own desires, I will seek and follow the Lord’s will for my life, no matter what He asks of me,’” he said. “Or, to use the words of the hymn: ‘I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. … I’ll be what you want me to be.'”
Doing what the Lord has planned takes hard work, he said.
“It’s the work of conversion, and it’s the work of a lifetime,” he said. “It means changing our hearts so that we want what God wants. ...
“We live in an era of secularism, when people are increasingly putting their trust in worldly philosophies, institutions, and wealth. But all of these will fall, and if we anchor ourselves to them, we will fall also. Christ is the only ‘sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.’ Faith and righteousness will prevail. Such faith gives us strength to accept the unknown. It will carry us through anything the future may hold.”
Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President, speaks during the BYU–Idaho devotional address on November 8. Photo by Ryan Chase.
An a cappella group, Vocal Union, sings during the BYU–Idaho devotional on November 8. Photo by Ryan Chase.
Young Men General President Brother Stephen W. Owen and his wife, Sister Jane Owen, greet students at BYU–Idaho after the devotional on November 8. Photo by Ryan Chase.