Tyler Haws: My Most Influential Teacher Was My Bishop
Contributed By Tyler Haws, former BYU basketball player
- Tyler Haws says the greatest teachers love and invite students to action.
- Haws’s bishop showed love rather than telling Haws to “toughen up.”
“With Christlike love in our hearts, we will seek every possible way to help others learn of Christ and come unto Him.” —Teaching in the Savior's Way
I believe that some of the greatest teachers in our lives are the ones who show love and invite us to act on true doctrine. One of my lifelong heroes and teachers is my close friend President Buzz Butler.
He was my bishop for many years and now serves as the stake president in the Alpine Utah West Stake. I felt President Butler’s friendship, love, and encouragement from a very early age. He saw things in me that I did not see myself. He had an inspiring vision for my spiritual life that made me want to follow the gospel.
Love must be genuine for the Spirit to come and teach. Love is strengthened through consistent friendship and kindness. President Butler showed me this genuine kindness every time we came in contact. He was interested in my life and cared about my well-being.
I remember on one specific occasion during a birthday interview feeling God’s love for me. I was in junior high school, and I felt very uncomfortable around people I didn’t know well. I did not like being shy and really felt alone for a long time. I was nervous to bring up my concern to anyone, but President Butler brought down the walls of discomfort. I believe it was his consistent kindness that made me feel comfortable enough to trust him with my concern. He was sensitive to the fact that this seemed like a giant hurdle in my life. I was in tears after explaining my feelings. He didn’t laugh or say, “Toughen up.” He listened intently. He mourned with me for a moment and then said, looking me in the eye, “Brother Tyler, you are not alone!”
The Spirit hit me so strong that I wasn’t alone and that I should never feel alone in life’s journey—no matter how big or small the issue or challenge I was facing. President Butler then offered to say a prayer with me. I can’t remember the words to his prayer, but again I felt a reassuring peace that Heavenly Father loved me. I had been given hope and shown love through the Spirit. I knew that things would be OK. President Butler listened to me, empathized with me, and taught me to get on my knees for comfort during difficult times.
President Butler taught me another profound lesson about the gospel in a subsequent conversation. I remember him explaining his scripture hero, Mormon, to me. He talked about Mormon as if he were an actual friend. He had studied his life so much that it seemed as though Mormon was as real as anyone living today. I questioned, “Could scripture reading really be this cool and exciting?” “Who was my favorite scripture hero?” “How could I feast on the words of Christ like that?” His deep feelings for Mormon made me want to make the scriptures my friend.
The people and words in the Book of Mormon are from God to help us and guide us. We should treat them like a friend. President Butler’s deep testimony helped make scripture study more meaningful and consistent in my life. Around that time he challenged our ward to read the Book of Mormon in a short, three-month period. I worked hard to do it but found that my progress was slow. It took me a whole year to finish, but I will forever be grateful for his example and invitation. I have many more experiences that have had a lasting impact on me with President Butler that I could share. He has been an amazing teacher in my life: first, he loves those he teaches; he genuinely cares; he listens; he has taken time to build his own testimony; and he always invites those he teaches to center hope and happiness on the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Tyler Haws played basketball at BYU from 2009 to 2010 and 2012 to 2015. He is BYU’s all-time leading scorer and one of the top 25 highest scorers in NCAA history. He is currently playing professional basketball in Spain.