March 28, 2019
“[W]e’re part of a monumental moment in Church education in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is one of those pivotal marks in our history that we won’t fully understand until we look back at it years and maybe decades from now.”
These words were part of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s opening remarks in a broadcast to BYU-Pathway Worldwide students on November 1, 2018. He — along with Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Sister Jean B. Bingham, Elder Robert C. Gay, Elder Kim B. Clark, and President Clark G. Gilbert and his wife, Christine — addressed more than 27,000 BYU-Pathway students enrolled at that time, as well as the thousands more who will enroll for many years to come. It was the first time this many General Authorities and Officers of the Church directly addressed the worldwide audience of BYU-Pathway students.
Like BYU-Pathway, its students are also experiencing monumental moments. Students may not realize the great impact these seemingly “small and simple”1 moments have until they look back at them later in life. For example, the decision of whether or not to go to college or which career path to follow. The discovery of love, self-worth, or faith. These small and simple experiences shape students and lead them and their families toward better futures.
Recognizing Monumental Moments
Elder Holland and the other panel members from the Executive Committee of the Church Board of Education addressed a number of obstacles that prevent students from continuing their education, which were presented as four types of students: Doubter, Misplaced Zeal, Happy As I Am, and Basic Survivor.
The panel encouraged these kinds of students and others to do basic things that could remove their stumbling blocks and lead them to greater opportunities for growth.
Overcoming Doubt with Faith
The doubter describes students who aren’t sure if they have what it takes to continue their education. They doubt themselves and their abilities. Fear prevents them from taking a step into the unknown. But, it is faith that can dispel fear and inspire students, filling them with the confidence they need to continue their education.
Elder Holland reminded students that education is part of their eternal development, and invited them to have faith in themselves and in God, who will provide them with divine help.
“We’re all capable of infinitely more than we do, and we must not let our fears get in the way of that. But, beyond your own help, beyond your own ability, you have help.”
Elder Clark taught that having faith in Jesus Christ will provide access to the enabling power of His Atonement to overcome doubts about pursuing an education.
“We have to act, but act in faith. If we do, power flows into our lives through the redeeming and strengthening power of the Savior. It’s a true principle, and it’s a marvelous blessing to each of us through our whole lives.”
Redirecting Misplaced Zeal
Students with misplaced zeal may be focusing their enthusiasm on righteous endeavors, but they struggle to see education as a “religious responsibility”2 and a tool that could help them in their family life and Church duties. The panel encouraged these students to re-prioritize their lives and trust in the Lord’s counsel that “if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”3
As someone who has benefited from her education as a parent and Church leader, Sister Bingham encouraged students to not shortchange themselves on education — they don’t know yet how their lives will turn out and how education will bless them.
“[W]e are commanded to learn in this life. … We are all wanting to become like our Heavenly Parents. We need to learn everything we can.”
Elder Bednar urged students to become consecrated Saints, which requires them to develop their skills and talents through education and dedication to God’s work.
“Consecrated means ‘to dedicate to a holy purpose,’ but there’s also an element of ‘develop and dedicate.’ So, we’re not just what we are. If we are consecrated, we are to develop ourselves with God’s help to be the best that we can be and dedicate ourselves to a holy purpose.”
Growth Cultivates True Happiness
Students who embody the “happy as I am” attitude are comfortable with where they are in life. They don’t see any need for growth. The panel suggested that if these students ask God what they lack, they will experience a change of heart that may persuade them to continue their education.
Elder Holland, quoting Brigham Young, acknowledged that what many students fear is failure.
“The tragedy in life is not failure. The tragedy in life is diminished expectations.”
Sister Bingham suggested that BYU-Pathway is exactly what students need to overcome their fears.
“I think this particular Pathway program is an inspired way to help those students get beyond that fear, to be able to feel like [they] have the support system.”
Elder Gay explained that students will find true happiness if they step out of their comfort zones and work to discover God’s plan for them personally.
“It is about becoming, and we have to get that deep down in the hearts. The question is not, ‘Am I happy?’ but rather‘What lack I yet?’4 And what do I need to do to move my life ahead in the way that Heavenly Father would have me move it ahead.”
If There’s a Will, There’s a Way
The basic survivor is not lazy or carefree. In fact, these students work very hard. They are already burdened with many responsibilities and adding another one, such as going to school, could make it harder for them to survive. The panel advised students to consider their divine responsibility, take a leap of faith, and trust that God will provide a way.
Referring to 1 Nephi 3:7, Elder Clark invited students to ask the Lord if He wants them to receive an education.
“So, if you know in your heart the Lord wants you to do it,… He will prepare the way, as long as you’re willing to do your part.”
Elder Bednar shared his testimony of the divine help available to students if they will do their best and trust that the Lord will take care of the rest.
“I have an absolute witness of the fact that when we do our best — not perfect, but we do our best — and we’re striving to live the gospel, then there are compensating blessings, and there is a strength in the power — a strength beyond our own — that helps us do what we otherwise could never do.”
Elder Cook promised that, while sacrifices may seem great in the beginning, students will be eternally blessed for them.
“[S]acrifice does bring forth the blessings of heaven. … It’s worth it to do it. It’s worth it in this life, and it’s worth it in the eternities.”
As students exercise faith to dispel doubt, refocus their priorities, make decisions that expand their comfort zones, and trust that anything is possible with the Lord, they will experience monumental moments that lead to extraordinary outcomes. Their futures will change forever as they discover their divine potential and understand the eternal blessings of education.
It may only take one monumental moment to redirect the course of the future. BYU-Pathway Worldwide strives to create such opportunities for students across the globe by providing them with accessible and affordable education. Its reach will continue to expand as students take the step of faith to do their part and trust in the Lord. Elder Bednar promised students the Lord is mindful of them and will help them succeed.
“I think some of you believe in Christ but don’t believe what He says applies to you…. I would say, as a servant of the Lord, He’s talking to you. This is for you. He knows you by name. He is that focused on individuals one by one. I invite you to not only believe in Him but believe that what He says is for you, individually, personally. I am a witness that this is true. I pray that you will open your heart and that you will let the Holy Ghost carry that message into your heart so that you understand it’s for you. He would say to you, ‘You can do this. I will help you do this, and I’m talking to you.’ I witness that He lives, that He is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father, and He will help you.”
At the conclusion of the broadcast, Elder Holland left students with an apostolic blessing.
“Do some basic things that facilitate these blessings, but then trust in God and know that He is a covenant-keeper. We’re supposed to be, but He always is. Every promise ever expressed to you, including this one, will be fulfilled. We have to do our part. We have to do some bit of our part. None of us are too good at doing all of it, but if we’ll make a good faith effort, every single solitary promise and word and blessing and benediction God has ever given you —… all of those promises are still in force…. And I give you that promise and that love from all of us. From the President of the Church, First Presidency, all the Officers and people who love and pray for you and cheer you on. You’re going to make it.”
The broadcast received more than 16,000 views online and inspired students around the world to act on what they learned.
Janet Lopez (Yuba City, California) shared how the messages encouraged her to keep going in PathwayConnect.
“I had such a hard week that I was tempted to quit the program. I went to my gathering and saw this broadcast. THIS is what I needed to hear. I shall continue and apply what was said tonight to my life.”
Identifying herself as a basic survivor, Heather Hansen (Rigby, Idaho) felt that her goal to attend BYU-Idaho might not come to fruition. After watching the broadcast, she felt inspired to continue and trust in the Lord. She now attends school on campus.
“I am the student who works hard and does not know how they will afford school…. Well, within 24 hours of this broadcast, I had received an email saying I had received a scholarship. Elder Bednar was right. If we work hard and have faith, things will work out.”
Linda Tu’ihalangingie (Tongatapu, Tonga) expressed that the message in the broadcast gave her greater determination to finish her education.
“[This broadcast] gave me courage, direction to keep on developing myself, and dedication to continue learning. PathwayConnect is truly an amazing opportunity to go back to school. Heavenly Father is going to help us accomplish our dreams.”