Elder Perry Tells BYU Graduates to Keep Priorities Balanced
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
“The choices you make will make all of the difference in what you want to achieve,” Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve said during commencement exercises held in the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University on April 25.
This year’s combined winter and spring graduating class at Brigham Young University received a total of 6,001 degrees—5,081 bachelor, 724 master, and 196 doctoral degrees.
“With all of these new decisions and challenges before you, … I encourage you to seek and find a balance in your future life,” said Elder Perry.
Sharing a family tradition, Elder Perry told of how his parents would put four objects—a baby bottle, a bank, a toy, and a Bible—in front of their child on the baby’s first birthday.
“Each item represented the different values each of us might have, our four basic needs in mortality,” he said. “Family tradition held that whichever item the baby chose, that would become their focus in life.”
Elder Perry shared how each child chose different objects, emulating the different results experienced in life.
“These four objects are representative of the different values that each of us have and you graduates have in your lives—your priorities and how you might understand how to find balance throughout mortality,” he said.
Elder Perry emphasized the importance of finding balance between the four specific priorities in life.
The bottle represented good physical health and emotional strength, he taught.
“Learn the value of maintaining good physical and emotional health throughout your life. You will not only live longer, but happier and more fulfilling lives.”
Drawing from his own good health he said, “I have been blessed throughout my life to have good health. It has allowed me to serve in many capacities. I never dreamed that I would live to be the age that I now am, but how grateful I am to be alive and able to do all that the Lord would still have me do. If you are going to continue to progress spiritually throughout your life, then you must be certain to take care of your physical and emotional needs.
“Eat right, exercise, pray daily, and keep your covenants, and you will be blessed with a productive life. Graduates, remember the health of this special body you have been blessed with and use it wisely.”
“The toy my parents set out represented the need to take time out, to recognize your personal worth and to add to it,” he said. “Do things in your spare time that will add to your personal value. Nothing bothers me more than to see time wasted! Schedule your time wisely and make sure there is always time for family, work, relaxation, and reflection.”
Elder Perry shared the words of President Thomas S. Monson emphasizing the need to provide time for family, time for work, time for study, time for service, time for recreation, time for self, and, above all, time for Christ.
“The bank represented the importance of financial security,” Elder Perry said. “We live in a dangerously precarious time, financially.”
Financial independence is often talked about but rarely practiced, he said, pointing out that more and more households are living on borrowed funds to meet their daily needs and wants.
“One of the most important lessons you will ever learn is the security and peace that comes from living within your means. … If you are spending more than you take in, heartache and sorrow are sure to follow unless and until you learn how to live more providently,” he said. “Understand that you will not have all of the things in your home when you first start out. My heart aches when I see a young newlywed couple in a larger-than-they-can-afford home with the latest furnishings that borrowed money can buy. …
“You will not have, and you do not need, the new car, new couch, or the house with the latest and fanciest features money—borrowed money—can buy. Learn to accept a modest living and be okay with that.”
“The Bible my parents laid out for their toddlers represented the need for individual spiritual strength,” he taught. “We teach spiritual strength in our children by offering father’s blessings, kneeling in daily family prayer, regularly attending the temple, regularly participating in Church meetings, and daily scripture study.”
A Christ-centered home will always be a safe haven for children, and parents need to teach faith in the Savior in all that they do, he said. “The scriptures teach us how to become closer to God and His Son, Jesus Christ,” he said. “They teach us how to live and how to repent when we make mistakes. They remind us of the value each of us has as a son or daughter or grandchild of God. We are His children. He loves us. He wants us to return to live with Him again. …
“Daily prayer and scripture study should be a part of every Latter-day Saint home. Ensure that as you leave this university and establish yourself, that wherever you may live, the gospel will always be part of your home. … Make the gospel of Jesus Christ a vital, active part of your life.”
But the duty a parent has to teach their children does not end at graduation, he said. Because of that, it is important for parents to communicate with their children.
“To both parents and graduates, I encourage you to stay on top of technology so that you can keep up with one another and understand one another throughout your lives. No one should go into technological retirement when their last child leaves the nest; that is when you should be alert and more mentally active—learning new things and preparing yourself for future opportunities to have input in the lives of your posterity.”
Other Church leaders in attendance were Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education; Elders Marcos A. Aidukatis, Shayne M. Bowen, and Anulfo Valenzuela of the Seventy; and Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president.
Other speakers at commencement exercises included BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson; Michael O’Connor, president of the Brigham Young University Alumni Association; and Conrad Rosenbrock, a graduate.