Elder Andersen Encourages Graduates to “Live Younger, Think Older”

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 4 November 2016

Graduates walk in their caps and gowns on the BYU–Hawaii campus on October 31.  Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Article Highlights

  • Trust in their Heavenly Father and in the Savior.
  • Have gratitude beyond the obvious.
  • Love in the first place.

“It is not the fulfillment of our ambitions or the satisfactions of prosperity that give life to the soul. Happiness comes in trusting God, loving Him and being grateful for all He gives to us, and loving those around us.” —Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

LAIE, HAWAII

“Live younger, think older.”

That was the counsel an Apostle gave to 299 Brigham Young University–Hawaii graduates during commencement exercises held in the Cannon Activities Center on October 31. This semester’s graduating class comes from 31 countries around the world.

“You’re young. We want you to fill your lives with ambition and energy,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Pursue your dreams. Work hard. Enjoy the strength of your body and the openness of your mind and, while you are younger, think of those who are older whom you respect and admire. … Now that they are older, how has their thinking evolved?”

Read the full address.

Embrace Older Perspectives

Remembering an experience he had as a young man the day after he had graduated from Brigham Young University, Elder Andersen spoke of visiting his grandmother in Idaho with his wife, Kathy. The couple had been married for about a month and was moving across the country to work for a few months prior to attending graduate school.

“My grandmother lived a simple life, introducing me to raspberries and flowers from the garden, deep-dish apple pie, remarkable stories of her ancestors, and her own homegrown poetry,” Elder Andersen said. “I remember her as always being happy, and I never remember her complaining.”

At that time, Elder Andersen recognized the wisdom and experience of his grandmother and began to think about the life ahead for his young family.

“I thought, ‘While living our younger lives, could I somehow hold on to the perspective of my grandmother?’ The thought entered my mind: ‘I will live younger, but think older.’ This is my message to you today. As you live younger, learn to embrace the perspective of those who are older.”

Elder Neil L. Andersen walks with BYU–Hawaii President John S. Tanner as they lead the procession of graduates on October 31. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Ana Koga Karone from Brazil after commencement exercises at BYU–Hawaii on October 31. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Elder Neil L. Andersen walks with BYU–Hawaii President John S. Tanner as they lead the procession of graduates on October 31. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during BYU–Hawaii commencement exercises on October 31. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Education for the Church, speaks during BYU–Hawaii commencement exercises on October 31. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Jesse and Rose Purcell after commencement exercises at BYU–Hawaii held on October 31. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Sharing the experiences of many faithful members around the world, Elder Andersen spoke of simple ways individuals “live younger and think older.” The Apostle shared three ways that people are able to follow his counsel:

  • Trust in their Heavenly Father and in the Savior.
  • Have gratitude beyond the obvious.
  • “Love in the first place.”

“We must not only believe these things but put them into practice,” he said.

“In our last general conference, President Monson gave this advice: ‘It is not enough … merely to believe in [the Savior] and His mission. We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent, and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we obtain true, eternal happiness.’”

Elder Andersen encouraged listeners to “decide now while you are young” to follow the counsel of President Thomas S. Monson.

“One of the greatest commitments that my wonderful wife, Kathy, and I made when we were young was that we would be true and faithful to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior Jesus Christ,” he said. “We would always keep Them foremost in our minds and hearts.”

Gratitude is an important element to keeping the fire of faith alive, Elder Andersen said.

“As we trust in the Lord and live righteously, we suddenly see our lives more clearly,” he said. “It is not what we obtain. It is not our money or fame. It is not the fulfillment of our ambitions or the satisfactions of prosperity that give life to the soul. Happiness comes in trusting God, loving Him and being grateful for all He gives to us, and loving those around us.”

Recognizing the unique graduating class that included students from Asia, the Pacific, North and South America, and other places around the world, Elder Andersen spoke of the important part the graduates have in the gathering of Israel.

“Prayerfully decide where to live, how to employ your educational talents, and where to raise your family, if you have that opportunity,” he said.

Elder Andersen called the graduates the “crème de la crème” and told them their ability to raise righteous families, to strengthen the kingdom of God, and to contribute to the world will not be measured by wealth, fame, or convenience. Rather, as a person follows the Lord’s inspiration to do His will, blessings will come, he said.

Elder Andersen shared the story of Willy Binene from the Democratic Republic of Congo who joined the Church in 1990 at the age of 21. Despite difficulties and the infancy of the Church and no full-time missionaries in his area, Brother Binene continually served the Lord and shared the gospel with others. In 2006, the Luputa District was formed and Brother Binene became the district president. In 2011, the Luputa Stake was organized and Brother Binene was called as president of the stake. It was not until after the stake was formed that the first full-time missionaries arrived to serve in the area.

“Wherever you live and whatever your situation, you can fill your life with goodness, and the Lord will bless you, lift you, and strengthen you,” Elder Andersen said. “If you are willing, you will be an instrument in bringing about His glorious purposes.”

Joining Elder Andersen for commencement exercises was his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen. Other speakers during the event included Elder Kim B. Clark, Commissioner of Church Education and a General Authority Seventy; BYU–Hawaii President John S. Tanner; and graduate Enish Asenat Garcia Castorena from Mexico City, Mexico.

Elder Clark focused his remarks on the topic “Succor, Lift, and Strengthen: Leadership and Service in the Lord’s Way” and encouraged graduates to lead by ministering and serving.

“Leadership is everywhere and always a moral act,” Elder Clark said. “When you lead you hold the lives of Heavenly Father’s children in your hands. What you do and what you say will influence them for good or for ill. Jesus Himself is our perfect example of how to lead by ministering and serving.”

President Tanner encouraged graduates to “be loyal to the royal within you.”

“Are you being loyal to the royal within you?” he asked. “None of you is common born. Each of you has a royal pedigree. You are sons and daughters of a Heavenly King. … Live up to your heritage.”

BYU–Hawaii President John S. Tanner, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Education for the Church, at commencement exercises on October 31. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

From left: BYU–Hawaii President John S. Tanner, Sister Susan W. Tanner, Sister Kathy Andersen, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Elder Kim B. Clark. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.

Graduates pose for a picture with Church leaders. On the front row: Sister Susan W. Tanner, BYU–Hawaii President John S. Tanner, Elder Neil L. Andersen, Sister Kathy Andersen, Elder Kim B. Clark. Back row: Rocky Woo, Hong Kong; Kakei Wan, Hong Kong; Shelby Jo Huey, Missouri; Mikayla Rowland, Arizona; Tsagaankluu Erdene, Mongolia; MingJyun Yon, Taiwan; Apisalome Bai, Fiji; Karlmaine Revillo, Philippines; Navarerk Kaemphatidee, Thailand; Seidai Yamada, Japan; Masaki Okada, Japan. Photo by Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii.