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June 16, 2015

Our Athenian Potential

An invitation to students and missionaries from Pathway’s international director

Many years back, while serving as a missionary in Bolivia, I came across a story which profoundly impacted and inspired me. As I recall, the story talked about the great Greek statesman, Pericles, who, while looking down at his native Athens, exclaimed, “I see Athens not for what she is, but rather for what she can become.”1

Since that time, I too have realized that when we pursue our dreams and diligently work to achieve them, we can — just like Athens — flourish and excel in anything that we set out to accomplish. Moreover, once we realize that our intrinsic potential has little to do with the socio-economic environments in which we were brought up and more to do with how we develop and cultivate our God-given talents, we place ourselves on the pathway to fulfill our divine potential.

Back to schoolI have always enjoyed reading and learning, as well as memorizing inspiring quotes along the way. One such quote comes from the French general-turned-ruler of France and King of Italy, Napoleon Bonaparte. He proclaimed, “Ability is nothing without opportunity.”2

Throughout my life, I have discovered that many capable and talented individuals do not reach their full potential as limited educational options, corrupt political systems, and health-related maladies force them to focus on subsistence as their primary focus. In such conditions, opportunities for success are quite limited. Nonetheless, I have met other individuals who, while blessed with very little, are able to make the best out of their scarce opportunities.

“All great events hang by a hair. The man of ability takes advantage of everything and neglects nothing that can give him a chance of success; whilst the less able man sometimes loses everything by neglecting a single one of those chances.”3

The above passage, also from Napoleon, teaches that we must seize any chances that come our way and that we should never neglect or shy away from opportunities placed before us.

We must seize any chances that come our way and never neglect or shy away from opportunities.

Students study outside the Manwaring Center

The first epistle of Peter, chapter 2, verse 9, states, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…”4 The Lord expects great things from us. He knows our circumstances, our abilities, but most importantly our hearts, which reveal our royal heritage and mark our heavenly destination.

I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, in the same year that man walked on the moon. Unfortunately, my father passed away while I was still very young. Therefore, the responsibility to feed, clothe, and educate my older brother and me fell solely on my mother. Despite her modest situation and many responsibilities as our lone provider, my mother instilled in us a desire to serve the Lord, educate ourselves, and grow to become men of integrity. Through my mother’s sacrifices and example, my brother and I became the first members of the family to graduate from college, to serve full-time missions, and to be married in the temple.

We need a job to perform, and we need to learn to endure, sacrifice, and love.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated, “For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea — it’s a commandment.”5 The gospel of Jesus Christ and formal education have been a powerful combination and guidance in my life.

We can grow intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. But we need time to meditate, engage, and express ourselves; we need to improve and fortify our character; we need to develop talents, learn leadership, and cultivate social relations. Moreover, we need to increase our knowledge of God and His plan, to serve others, and to learn self-discipline. We need to seek, fight, and persist in reaching our goals. We need a job to perform, and we need to learn to endure, sacrifice, and love. We need to be effective in confronting temptation and in avoiding frustration. We need to identify and pursue significant goals, committing ourselves to God and His kingdom.

PathwayConnect provides precisely the right combination of opportunities for many individuals across the globe to gain the necessary skills, motivation, and vision to accomplish their divine potential. It too provides fantastic and memorable service opportunities for local and full-time service missionaries in PathwayConnect (where applicable). Finally, as former President of BYU-Idaho Kim B. Clark used to emphasize, “Pathway is for the kingdom,”6 thus providing local leaders with an additional tool in their ministry.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”7 It is not who we are today that will mark us forever, but rather in what, and who, we will become. May we, individually and collectively, continue to strive to be a peculiar people who value education, seek to serve others, and, above all, embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.

  1. ^No sources found.
  2. ^ Quoted in Have You Ever Noticed? : The Wit and Irony of Every Day Life (1985) by Joe Moore.
  3. ^ Letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Passariano (26 September 1797).
  4. ^ Peter 2:9.
  5. ^ “Education is a Commandment,” LDS.org.
  6. ^ “Pathway is for the Kingdom,” Pathway.
  7. ^ Proverbs 4:18.

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