“Good Life” Consists of Family and the Gospel, Elder Cook Tells Graduates

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 19 December 2015

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at BYU–Idaho’s 2015 fall graduation held in the BYU–Idaho Center on December 18.  Photo by Katelyn Crompton.

Article Highlights

  • It is through expressing gratitude and committing to the eternal principles established by the Savior—family, personal testimony, and living the gospel of Jesus Christ—that individuals will be able to live “the good life.”

“For those of us who are members of the Church, the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection and His Atonement are the foundation for all that is essential and also bring meaning to this life.” —Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve

Family and the gospel of Jesus Christ are essential to achieving “the good life,” Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told 1,997 graduates during commencement exercises at Brigham Young University–Idaho on December 18.

The event, held in the BYU–Idaho Center, brought students, faculty, and supporters to the Rexburg, Idaho, campus. Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy and the Commissioner of Education for the Church and BYU–Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert addressed the graduates.

During his remarks, Elder Cook taught that an important element to achieving happiness in this life is gratitude—especially for one’s heritage—and through being humble.

“We live in a very self-centered age,” he said. “Social media, in particular, can easily be used for self-promotion. It has never been more important to be grateful and humble. Those who possess these attributes express appreciation for their blessings as they follow the Savior’s example.”

Sharing practical advice, Elder Cook spoke of ways individuals can be both happy and successful in achieving what has euphemistically been referred to as “the good life.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve offers the keynote address during BYU–Idaho's commencement exercises held in the BYU–Idaho Center on December 18. Photo by Erik Hill.

Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy gives his remarks during BYU–Idaho's commencement exercises held in the BYU–Idaho Center on December 18. Photo by Erik Hill.

Drawing from the words of Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, Elder Cook shared thoughts of concern regarding the diminished role of faith, moral values, and meaning in modern life. With the unprecedented achievements in knowledge, freedom, life expectancy, and affluence, individuals experience a “maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.”

“I am deeply concerned that ‘the good life’ based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ is now very secondary to a worldly view of ‘the good life,’” Elder Cook said. “For those of us who are members of the Church, the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection and His Atonement are the foundation for all that is essential and also bring meaning to this life.”

The Savior inspired beliefs and established standards of conduct regarding what is moral, righteous, and desirable, Elder Cook taught. “However, the principles and basic morality the Savior taught are under serious attack in today’s world. Christianity is under attack.”

This scenario is not new, Elder Cook said, referencing the Apostle Paul when he encountered philosophers in Athens on Mars Hill.

“Many in the academic world have long pointed to Aristotle’s advocacy of ‘intellectual contemplation’ as a blueprint for ‘the good life,’” Elder Cook said. “It is interesting that many of these same worldly philosophies that conflicted with early Christianity are still present in slightly different ways today. In addition, there are many new philosophies that are in direct conflict with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

What is considered moral has changed over the years, and an incredible movement away from moral conduct has changed the basis for what is considered “the good life,” the Apostle taught.

Graduates make their way to their seats prior to commencement exercises at BYU–Idaho on December 18. Photo by Erik Hill.

“I assure you that following the Savior brings happiness in this life and in heaven,” Elder Cook said. “Some challenges are not just about good and evil. Some require us to make choices based on what is ‘best,’ not just what is good.”

Sharing the examples of two men he knew, Elder Cook taught how the choices a person makes impact their happiness in life and the legacy they leave for their posterity. His examples included one man who spent his life focused on a very successful career and another man who spent his life focused on following the Savior.

The most significant choices in life can be made by everyone—regardless of their economic circumstances, abilities, talents, or opportunities, Elder Cook taught. Although individuals may not have control over difficulties or trials in their life, they do have control over their own faith and worship.

“In the worst of circumstances, when everything else crumbles, family and the gospel of Jesus Christ are the essentials,” he said.

It is through putting the Savior, family, and the Church first that individuals will find “the good life.”

“The Father’s eternal plan for His children is dependent upon both faith and families,” he said. “I am grateful that Latter-day Saints, in survey after survey, are maintaining faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and are continuing to marry and have children.”

Faith in and worship of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, is a choice, the Apostle taught.

Recognizing it is still important to do everything in one’s power to advance in both academic and occupational accomplishments, Elder Cook reminded graduates to not elevate those things above things of eternal significance.

Graduates make their way to their seats prior to commencement exercises at BYU–Idaho on December 18. Photo by Erik Hill.

It is through expressing gratitude and committing to the eternal principles established by the Savior—family, personal testimony, and living the gospel of Jesus Christ—that individuals will be able to live “the good life.”

Elder Clark encouraged graduates to “pray every day to know who the Lord wants you to help that day” and shared four principles to consider as they move forward in the next phase of life.

First, graduates must pray for and be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Second, Elder Clark reminded graduates to “not trust in the arm of flesh.” Third, individuals must “pray that God will send His angels” to help them, and fourth, Elder Clark encouraged graduates to “be the answer to someone’s prayer for help.”

“I pray that you will trust in the Lord and have His Spirit in your hearts so that you will be the Lord’s angels who bring the balm of Gilead, the good tidings of great joy, the healing and redeeming power of Jesus Christ to those who are lost, whose hands hang down, whose knees are weak, and whose hearts are heavy,” Elder Clark said.

President Gilbert encouraged graduates to remember their heritage, recognizing the “crops harvested” from the labors of others who have gone before. He encouraged graduates to do their part in planting the seeds for others in the future.

Graduates stand—acknowledging the help of their parents and supporters—during commencement exercises held in the BYU–Idaho Center on December 18.