Church News and Events

BYU Graduates Told to “Go about Doing Good”

Contributed By By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer

  • 20 August 2013

BYU graduates express their feelings during summer commencement exercises in the Marriott Center on August 15. Photo by Mark A. Philbrick.

Graduates of Brigham Young University have the unique charge to “go about doing good” in the Lord’s kingdom, said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy while addressing the 2,232 graduates during summer commencement exercises in the Marriott Center on August 15.

This summer’s combined graduating class includes 2,232 degrees—1,827 bachelor degrees, 357 master degrees, and 48 doctoral degrees. 

“Being an example of what is right requires fortitude, hard work, earnest desire, and energy,” Elder Rasband said. “It means living the laws of God. You will have remarkable influence over those with whom you work, serve, and live—your families, neighbors, ward members, work associates, and even the store clerk.”

Using examples found in the scriptures as well as his own life, Elder Rasband shared a few lessons he has learned that he thought could be of benefit to graduates.

Elder Rasband said that growing up in a middle-class family, he set a goal and decided young that he wanted to attend college. He initially wanted to go to BYU but decided to attend the University of Utah, where he could live at home, work locally, and attend school full-time. It was while attending school he met his wife and his future employer—two important decisions that have impacted the rest of his life.

“Sometimes, we all need to be willing to adjust our goals and modify our plans, while never losing sight of the end result desired,” he said.

Because of a job opportunity, Elder Rasband was two semesters shy of finishing his formal education, making the opportunity to speak to and join graduates at BYU a sweet experience for him and his family.

Elder Rasband shared the account in Matthew when Christ was with His disciples teaching and feeding a great multitude of people, prior to commencing a journey in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Just as the disciples were fed prior to their journey, so have students while obtaining their education.

“Consider this boat as your launch into a new life—be it a profession, further study, or raising a family,” he said. “You will still be juggling tasks and responsibilities. You learned how here; you will need those skills for the rest of your life. The way ahead will not be smooth or without incident. In the coming stages of your life you will feel the boat rocking under you, no matter your preparation or your sheer goodness. Recognize the turbulence for what it is. The Lord allows us challenges that at times will feel like tsunamis to make us strong and effective in His service and to help us always turn to Him.”

Drawing again from the example of the Savior in the New Testament, Elder Rasband spoke of Peter, who listened to the Savior’s call and walked on water to the Savior.

“He did not hesitate or stop to gauge the risks,” Elder Rasband said. “That’s where you are. You are ready to respond to the Lord’s call, ‘Come.’”

Commencement is a time where individuals are being called to go out into the world as representatives of Jesus Christ, he said.

“Think of it, he walked on the water. This was unfamiliar territory to this fisherman,” he said. “You too are poised for walking that unfamiliar ground. You have been prepared in your minds, and you’ve learned to take responsibility; you have been schooled in more than mortal knowledge.”

It was when Peter saw the winds that he was afraid and began to sink and asked the Lord to save him.

“Peter, by the power of God—there’s no other way he could do it—walked on water,” he said. “On that short journey he looked down and saw the waves churning and felt the wind swirling, and he faltered.”

It was as he began to sink that he immediately turned to the source of all power—the Savior—who then stretched out His hand and caught him.

“That hand, brothers and sisters, is always there for you,” Elder Rasband said. “It has been there for me. Jesus Christ will be your greatest ally and mentor in your years ahead. He will be, as we read in the scriptures, ‘on your right hand and on your left’ if you live close to Him, His words, and His ways.”

As individuals face jobs, assignments, contentions, moves, and continual distractions, it is important that they “be wise” and draw upon the power of God to always have His Spirit.

“Know that you can draw upon the power of God to always have His spirit with you on this journey,” he said. “‘Come,’ He will say to you with an outstretched hand. That doesn’t mean He will change the circumstances; you may still be out on the swirling water, but His Atonement will lift you to higher ground.”

What the Savior asks is that the daily life of an individual reflects his or her testimony, Elder Rasband said. It is through laying aside the things of the world that individuals will be able to prepare to meet God.

“Know this, your life on earth will not be measured by what you do for a profession, what your address is, or the callings you hold,” he said. “What will be recorded in the Lamb’s book of life is how you live your covenants, how you prepare yourself to meet God.”

Individuals must not wait until they have made enough money “so you can afford to serve the Lord,” he said. “Don’t put your work in front of your parenting. Don’t make it a habit of reaching out to steady the ark in the Lord’s kingdom. Don’t feel entitled to more than your share of the Lord’s blessings, and don’t boast about them as if they were a measure of your greatness. Be humble, kind, and forgiving. Be generous. Be gentle and long suffering, and most of all, be honest. We need you out there holding fast and helping others to do the same.”