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Commencements

Your Real Resume

Now let me offer a Presidential message to the graduates. I have entitled my brief remarks “Your Real Résumé.”

Today each of you graduates has added a college degree to your résumé, either a bachelor degree or an associate degree. This is truly a great accomplishment, very much worth celebrating. Congratulations! I hope that your résumé opens many wonderful opportunities for you. And I hope that you will continue to add to it!

Today, however, I want to draw your attention to a résumé that is even more important than your professional résumé. It is what Elder Maxwell called your “real résumé.” He said:

God is infinitely more interested in our having a place in His kingdom than with our spot on a mortal organizational chart. . . .Father wants us to come home, bringing our real résumés, ourselves!1

Who you truly are constitutes your real résumé, not any list of accomplishments. What is written on your heart matters more than what is written on your c.v. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said [quote]:

God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. . . . We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children.2

In the same vein, my wife, as Young Women General President, taught that we should not love each other for our résumés but for who we are, just as God loves us. She said:

In families, friendships, dating, and marriage, we should value not just beauty and résumés, but rather character, good values, and each other’s inherited divine natures.3

So, while your academic résumé is important in the marketplace and something truly worth celebrating and strengthening, don’t confuse its temporal importance with the eternal importance of your real résumé. On the résumés read in Heaven, worldly greatness can never a substitute for personal goodness. Indeed, in Heaven’s eyes, to be good is to be great.

This is my presidential message to you: to be good is to be great. Now let me amplify and drive home this message by buttressing it with insights from several authors who, each in different ways, powerfully affirm the priority of goodness to greatness, which is to say the priority of our real résumés to our worldly résumés.

First David Brooks, a NY Times columnist. He begins his book The Road to Character by distinguishing between what he calls résumé virtues and eulogy virtues. Brooks writes:

The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being—whether you are kind, brave, honest, or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.

Most of us would say that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé virtues, but I confess for long stretches of my life I’ve spent more time thinking about the latter than the former. Our education system is certainly oriented around the résumé virtues more than the eulogy virtues.4

I hope that the education system you encountered here at BYU–Hawaii has not focused on résumé virtues to the exclusion of eulogy virtues. For character education lies at the foundation of our mission. David O. McKay firmly placed it there when he founded this institution. He was fond of quoting a maxim by the American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Character is higher than intellect.”5 This means that we must never lose sight of eulogy virtues essential to character—such as kindness, integrity, cheerfulness, patience, hard work, courage, and charity—in pursuit of résumé virtues, which are also important but just not as important as eulogy virtues.

The Jewish novelist Chaim Potock makes a similar point in the powerful climax of his novel The Chosen. Potock tells of a Hasidic rabbi named Reb Saunders who imposes a regime of silence on his brilliant son Danny so that his boy will learn to feel the world with his heart and not just analyze and dominate it with his brilliant mind. Reb Saunders does not want his son to be merely smart; he wants him to be good. In a speech ringing with anguish and love, Reb Saunders exclaims:

A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul.6

Reb Saunders does not want a professional résumé for a son, however brilliant. He wants a real résumé. He wants eulogy virtues.

I can imagine our Father in Heaven saying something similar to us were we to knock at the Pearly Gates with our academic résumé in hand. He might say, “A résumé I need for a child? A heart I need for a child. A soul I need for a child. Compassion, righteousness, goodness I want from my child. Not a mind without a soul.”

Now let me cite one final example. This from C. S. Lewis. I want to tell you about Sarah Smith from Golders Green, a character in Lewis’s novel The Great Divorce. Through Sarah Smith, Lewis memorably articulates the truth that in God’s eyes goodness is greatness.

In the novel, Lewis imagines himself on a fantastic bus ride from Hell to Heaven. In Heaven, he encounters the shining spirit of a departed woman that is truly resplendent. She is a lady of dazzling radiance and almost unbearable beauty who overflows with love and grace and is adored by a host of other angels. Lewis asks who she is. He assumes that she must be “a person of particular importance.” Yes, she is, he is told, but she’s “someone ye’ll never have heard of. Her name is Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.” Lewis chooses a deliberately ordinary name and a nondescript London suburb for this character.

Yet despite being undistinguished on earth, Sarah Smith from Golders Green is “one of the great ones” in Heaven. For “fame in this country [Heaven] and fame on earth are two quite different things,” Lewis learns. The one is based on worldly résumés, the other on real résumés comprised of eulogy virtues. Sarah Smith has become glorious and great in Heaven because she was good on earth—loving, kind, and generous to all. She possesses a real résumé replete with Christ-like eulogy virtues. And in Heaven, this is all that truly matters.7

I encourage you not only to emulate such virtues but to be on the lookout for the Sarah Smiths in your life. Honor them, learn from them. They may be your neighbors. They may be a Primary teacher, or someone who cleans your office or delivers your mail. They may be your parents. They are seemingly ordinary people who never have done anything famous. They may not have a college degree as you now do. They may not even have a high school education. And yet they possess extraordinary real résumés, graced with remarkable eulogy virtues.

Never disparage or feel yourself superior to those who lack an academic résumé. Remember that everyone is your superior in some way. So, seek to learn from everyone.8 Remember, too, that Jesus indicated there will be lots of surprises at the final judgment. He will reject some who claim to have done great things, ( Matthew 7:22) and exalt others who did not even know that they were serving him ( Matthew 25: 37-41) The Lord measures greatness with a different yardstick than we often do here on earth.

So, my dear graduates, may you develop real résumés to complement your academic résumés that we so justly celebrate here today. For just as your academic résumé will open doors of opportunity in this life, your real résumé will open the portals of Heaven, resulting in greater happiness in this life as well as blessings, honor, grace, and glory beyond anything you can imagine in the life to come.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

[1] “The Tugs and Pulls of the World,” Oct. 2000 General Conference.
[2] “The Love of God,” Oct. 2009 General Conference. Cf. 1 Samuel 16:7.
[3] Susan W. Tanner, “Daughters of Heavenly Father,” April 2007 General Conference.
[4] David Brooks, The Road to Character (New York: Random House, 2015), xi.
[5] Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: Philosopher, Poet, Author, Essayist
[6] Chaim Potock, The Chosen (New York: Ballantine Books, 1967; rpt. 1995), 277.
[7] See C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: Collier Books, 1946), 107-08.
[8] In one of his letters, Emerson wrote: “Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar? It is this: Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.”