To Know, to Follow, and to Serve Him
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer
As individuals come to know the Savior they are more able to follow and serve Him, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary general president, told Brigham Young University–Idaho graduates and their supporters during commencement exercises held in the BYU–Idaho Center on December 14.
This year’s graduating class is the largest to date, with more than 1,900 students earning diplomas.
“Perhaps you … are asking yourself, ‘What happens next?’” Sister Wixom asked the graduates. “No doubt you have seen the Lord’s hand in your life so far. Your ultimate goal is to have joy and return to your Heavenly Father. You are on the path, and graduation is a great accomplishment, but what next?”
She then answered with, “It largely depends on how you embrace our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Sister Wixom shared three ways to find the greatest happiness in this life and the life to come.
To Know Him
“How do we really come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ?” Sister Wixom asked. “We knew Him in the premortal existence. We were there when the Father presented His plan. We saw the Savior chosen and appointed, and we sustained it.”
When individuals know these truths in their hearts, they are never again the same, Sister Wixom said. Christ is eager for all to remember Him; it is the adversary that wants all to forget who they really are and how well they know Him.
Drawing from the words of a talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard, Sister Wixom said, “ ‘Life eternal is predicated upon our own individual, personal knowledge of our Father in Heaven and His holy Son. Simply knowing about them is not enough. We must have personal, spiritual experiences to anchor us. These come through seeking them in the same intense, single-minded way that a hungry person seeks food’ ” (“Feasting at the Lord’s Table,” Ensign, May 1996).
She continued, “I want to live my life with the purpose of coming to really know my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
To Follow Him
“In coming to know Him, we follow Him,” Sister Wixom said.
By following the Savior and emulating Him, individuals are able to minister to others.
“The scriptures are full of simple things we can do to follow Him,” Sister Wixom said. “The Savior’s way was to minister one by one. The greatest blessings in this gospel come to us individually. Think of visiting teaching and home teaching, personal revelation, and temple covenants. We may teach a class of four-year-olds in Primary, but we are really teaching individual children.”
It is important to be attentive to the very “least of these,” Sister Wixom taught. “We too can follow the Savior and minister one by one.”
To illustrate her point, Sister Wixom shared a story of a young woman named Joann who, while attending nursing school, learned an important lesson.
Her professor gave a quiz, and Joann breezed through the questions until she read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”
The young woman thought surely the question on the test was a joke. She had seen the cleaning woman several times but wondered how she would know her name.
Sister Wixom went on to share that the woman handed in her paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward their grade. The professor responded by saying, “Absolutely. In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.”
Individuals are able to focus on the things that matter the very most in life as they ask, “What would the Savior do, and how would He react?” Through those questions, the Spirit is able to teach.
To Serve Him
“In following Him, we serve Him,” said Sister Wixom.
“Isn’t it thrilling to belong to a church that requires us to serve, to sacrifice, and to give diligent effort? … We are grateful that we have a work to do and the Lord needs our willing service. This gospel is going to fill the earth, and it can’t be stopped. It is our responsibility to contribute to the momentum.”
Sharing her experience of visiting the Philippines while on a Church assignment, Sister Wixom spoke of Church members she met who had traveled for hours to attend meetings.
“As we pulled up to the stake center, a large truck pulled up alongside us,” she said. “I could see the arms of the members waving through the wooden slats on the side of the truck. A canvas tarp was tied across the top. I learned that these Saints had ridden for hours in that truck to attend the meeting. As they opened the back gate, they were all smiles as they jumped from the back of the truck, the women wearing their Sunday dresses and the men in their white shirts and ties.”
Sister Wixom then shared how she wept as she joined those Saints in singing the opening hymn, “Because I Have Been Given Much.”
“When Moroni came to Joseph Smith, Joseph said he called him by name and said ‘God had a work for [him] to do,’” she said. “That same message applies to us today. There is work for us to do. We are about bringing precious souls back to Heavenly Father. We are not just getting our visiting and home teaching done; we are about ministering to His sheep. …
“He does need us, but most of all, we need Him. It does not matter what our college major might be or our career choice may become. It does not matter how much money we will make or what recognition we may win from the world. The greatest success we can achieve in this life is to have truly embraced our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Regardless of what the world may say, with that focus we will succeed.”