Elder Ballard Gives Institute Students Time-Tested Advice
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Classes start soon for Latter-day Saint students at Weber State University. On August 25, several thousand decided to usher in their fall semester by listening to Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in an evening devotional at the Ogden LDS Institute.
In his humor-laced remarks, Elder Ballard offered the sort of time-tested advice that a grandfather might share with a beloved grandson or granddaughter: Live a Christ-anchored life. Make time for self-evaluation. Find and befriend a lonesome person. Stay clear of harmful things. Say thanks to your parents. Don’t forget to pray. And never take life too seriously—it’s okay to have fun.
Elder Ballard anticipated that many in his audience expected to hear some sort of counsel on marriage. His direction to the many “handsome men” in attendance?
“Get busy, find your companion, and get married,” he said, drawing laughter.
The Apostle recalled that when he was a young college student and courting his future wife, Barbara, he always asked for dates either face-to-face or over the telephone. Texting an invitation for a date was not an option then—and it remains a poor option today, he said.
“Pick up the telephone and be a real live person on the other end.”
Busy college students also need to find time to keep their “spiritual sensitivities” sharp, he added. Stay connected to the scriptures, to fellow ward members, and with relatives.
Elder Ballard then told the students that many sacred yet presently unknown responsibilities and duties await them, and he encouraged them to not do anything that would delay or undermine such future opportunities.
“You are preparing yourself for those things that, over time, will prove to matter most,” he said.
He warned of the dangers of pornography and emphasized the importance of setting worthwhile priorities.
“If you stay anchored to the gospel of Jesus Christ, I promise that you will not have any challenge that you can’t deal with.”
Learn now the lifelong skill of properly managing finances, and look out for people who are alone and need a friend, he counseled.
“There shouldn’t be anyone on this campus that is lonely,” he said.
Remember, he added, to stay in regular contact with parents. Let them know you are thankful for all they do.
Exercise, relax, and don’t forget to have fun. “Never get so serious that you don’t have a chance to laugh or see the funny side of something.”
Elder Ballard concluded with an invitation to take “the journey to Gethsemane.”
Come to know the Lord by studying the scriptures and those essential moments in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ atoned for the sins of the world, he said.
“You will have an experience that will change your life forever.”
Jesus Christ, he added, wants to be your friend. Let Him in.
“Turn your eyes to Gethsemane, and you will find inner strength and power to carry on and do whatever it is that faces you.”
Weber State University President Charles A. White also shared brief remarks at the devotional. He welcomed the students back to school and challenged them to prioritize their busy lives, to have fun but don’t waste time on trivial matters.
“Take care of yourself spiritually and physically,” he said.