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Commencements

Trusted Professors

Introduction


Brother and sisters, Aloha!

Elder and Sister Jaggi, President and SisterKauwe, everyone here, I join you in congratulating each of these remarkable students! Graduating has taken some all-night study sessions, incredible persistence, more than a few trips to the shaved ice stand, and probably a few nights walking past the temple and praying for help. Don’t ever forget that last lesson!

Professors Matter


Do you remember the first semester you selected classes? Sometimes the classes you chose were required for your major. Sometimes they simply fit into your schedule. And always, I suppose always, you considered who your professor would be. You are fortunate to have BYU–Hawaii professors who are outstanding academically and who are genuinely interested in you as an individual. They are disciples of Christ first, who have deep roots in Bethlehem and Palmyra before Cambridge. 2 Thank you [to the faculty]!

There’s just one thought I’d like us to consider briefly, and to help you think about it, I looked up all the classes available at BYU–Hawaii and thought about selecting a semester’s worth. I wanted to begin with a religion class. I have several good friends on the religion faculty so that was easy. I’d like to take a class in physics and one in children’s literature, so I figured I’d talk to some of you about the professors you loved. When I was in college, I wanted to take a golf class, but I have to be honest, that was really less about the professor and more about the girl I was about to propose to. I went looking for a class from President Kauwe hoping he was teaching a class on disciple leadership but couldn’t find one. (I might have to do some convincing to get him and Sister Kauwe to teach that class!)

How did you select professors anyway? Maybe you downloaded the Rate My Professor app on your phone. I’m sure you talked to your friends about the professors they liked. You’ve learned that the professors you choose matter. Some professors have a way of helping you become your best self, like taking that French class last semester, getting just buried, but hanging in there only to have your professor at the end of the semester tell you how proud she was of you for working so hard and doing so well!

In a few minutes, we’ll be outside celebrating with you and a few thousand of your closest friends. Then next week, you’ll wake up and realize the Lord has more classes for you to take. It will seem as if the Savior is hand-selecting experiences for you, like choosing classes. In the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell, you will find that, “[God] will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know...not always what we like...[because] the truth [is] that you have rendezvous to keep.”3

The World’s Professors


As you begin the curriculum which the Lord has selected for you, can you imagine letting someone else select your professors? If you’re not careful, the world will select professors for you, and they will be polished and convincing. 4 Some are so appealing that society’s ears itch for their rhetoric of indulgence. 5 Their doctrines masquerade as being informed. 6 Their lectures are available anywhere you turn. And people you know, and even some people you love, will flock to their podcasts. Their words are smooth and easy; and they seek their own form of righteousness which is “after the image of their own god.”7

A warning from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland applies as we select our professors and thereby, risk allowing them and their gods to become our gods. He said,

"Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds." 8

The allure of such professors will indeed be easy on your ears, will not require either faith, obedience, or repentance, and will suggest answers with very short shelf lives. In contrast, as President Russell M. Nelson just taught us, the gospel of Jesus Christ“ is the only enduring solution” 9 and will ignite a spiritual momentum in our lives that “can help us withstand the relentless, wicked attacks of the adversary and thwart his efforts to erode our personal spiritual foundation.” 10

The Lord’s Professors


Now you won’t remember much from today, but please remember this.

The Lord has already chosen professors for the curriculum He has customized for you. They won’t always tell you what you want to hear, but you can take their classes with perfect confidence. Two weeks ago, we sustained His professors as prophets, seers, and revelators.

People will criticize the Lord’s prophets and apostles as being old-fashioned.11 People will say they’re simply not as enlightened as the world’s progressive professors.

You mark my words: you will be happier and more successful if you choose the prophets, seers, and revelators as your professors. Sign up for their classes. Listen to them more closely than if you were studying for a physics final. If you need to, and even if you just want to, grab a friend, get some of that late-night pizza, and study their lectures. And when someone you know decides to drop the Lord’s classes or listen to professors who know far less, don’t you do the same.

In a few moments, you will move your tassel from the left-hand side to the right-hand side of your mortarboard hat. Later today you’ll return your graduation robe. Then next week make sure you hang your BYU–Hawaii diploma somewhere so that next week or next year, when you find yourself facing some extraordinarily difficult homework as part of the Lord’s curriculum, let your diploma remind you to choose the Lord and His professors.

The One Professor With All the Answers


One concluding thought. As you prepared for finals last week, wouldn’t it have been just straight out dumb to rely on TikTok’s or Twitter’s answers over your history or biology professor, not to mention your religion professor! The number of followers and views of that Instagram or TikTok personality does not make their answers any more reliable. However credibly packaged, relying on their answers will leave us “ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”12

The prophets, seers, and revelators know the questions, and if you are a careful student, they are already pointing you to Heavenly Father’s answers as well.

The prophets and apostles come from different backgrounds. Some have been businessmen or car salesmen or airline pilots. And some have been professors, judges, and even heart surgeons. Regardless of their backgrounds, they have now been called by and speak for the only professor who really does know all the answers, the one who knows all there is to know on every subject. May I echo what one of these apostles said, “What the Lord knows is, fortunately, vastly more—not just barely more—than the combination of what all mortals know.” 13

He is worthy of our adoration, and we can follow His teaching and doctrine with perfect confidence.

I sincerely congratulate you today. And I add my testimony to yours that there is no question you will ever have, there is no test you will ever face, which has not already been taken and passed by Him whose Church this is, by Him whose apostles these men are. I testify of the Savior and of His prophets and apostles and pray we will all be very careful students! Passing next week’s class depends on it.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Notes

  1. Mosiah 23:14
  2. President Ernest L. Wilkinson, Address to the BYU faculty, 12 September 1966, pp. 5-6
  3. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, But for a Small Moment, BYU Devotional, September 1, 1974
  4. Jacob 7:4
  5. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
  6. President Dallin H. Oaks, Truth and the Plan, General Conference, October 2018, “We need to be cautious as we seek truth and choose sources for that search. We should not consider secular prominence or authority as qualified sources of truth. We should be cautious about relying on information or advice offered by entertainment stars, prominent athletes, or anonymous internet sources. Expertise in one field should not be taken as expertise on truth in other subjects.”
  7. Doctrine and Covenants 1:16
  8. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship, General Conference, April 2014
  9. President Russell M. Nelson, Preaching the Gospel of Peace, General Conference, April 2022
  10. President Russell M. Nelson, The Power of Spiritual Momentum, General Conference, April 2022
  11. Alma 30:27, 31
  12. 2 Timothy 3:7
  13. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [1979], 22; Abraham 3:19