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Preparing Ourselves for Greater Things

Preparation is Key

A long time ago, before the turn of the 21st century, … I attended BYU–Hawaii. I was a true freshman, arriving here from my home island of Maui. I was eager to start a new adventure in my life and BYU–Hawaii was an exciting place to be. There were people here from all over the world. My first roommate was a Polynesian student from New Zealand. I remember once when he woke me up in the middle of the night because he needed to borrow my pocket knife. He and his friends had a big pan of hot rice and they needed a knife to open their cans of corned beef. They invited me to eat with them and as I chowed down on rice and corned beef I thought to myself, “This is awesome!” It was a true BYU–Hawaii college experience!

This may come as a surprise but as a freshman, one of my goals was to dance in the PCC Night Show. As a youth, my Maui ward would take temple trips to Laie. Laie was the only temple in Hawaii at the time. While our parents were attending the temple all day long, we youth would wander around BYU–Hawaii and the PCC. I saw the night show and knew that’s what I wanted to do when I came to BYU–Hawaii. But there was one major obstacle—I had never learned Polynesian dancing before. I was trained in Navajo hoop dancing, hip hop, and other styles, and I was good at it, but I never formally learned Polynesian dancing. It was kind of a big obstacle, but I had my goal! During freshman orientation week, I auditioned for the Night Show. I remember praying, asking Heavenly Father to help me do well. So, I had the desire and I had prayer! From what I recall from my audition, I was following the kumu but even basic hula moves were difficult. I remember doing the pa oti, the male tahitian dance, and I thought I did ok for that one. Then they wanted me to do some Maori “stomp” moves and I was completely lost. I did not feel confident afterwards. Well, it’s no surprise that I didn’t get the job. Wallowing in self-pity, I came to the realization that I was simply not prepared. Although I was a good dancer, I was not a good Polynesian dancer. I knew I needed to learn Hawaiian, Maori, and Tahitian dancing, but I asked myself, how would I learn these dances? The solution to my problem came through another only at BYU–Hawaii experience—BYU–Hawaii Culture Night! Back then culture night was during the fall semester. I signed up, learned, and danced with the Hawaiian club, Tahiti club, and Kiwi club. I made new friends and really enjoyed performing. So the next semester came along and I signed up to audition for the Night Show again. I remember thinking to myself, “I got this!” However, when I came to the backstage area of the Aloha Theater for the audition there were some tall, good looking guys there trying to get the same job as me! I felt a bit intimidated but I also felt confident in the dances that I had learned. All the guys that were auditioning had to learn brand new bits of dance choreography from each section. Man, those guys that I auditioned with may have been tall and handsome, but most of them had two left feet. I did the best I could utilizing all the hours of preparation I had from those practices for Culture Night.

Back in the day, the PCC would publish the job openings for students and the new student hires on actual paper and stick it on the window of the Human Resources office. A week later, I was at the window to look at the print out and I saw the results of my audition. There it was - Night Show performer, Chad Yuen! [SLIDE 3 UP] I was ecstatic! I did it!

So, what did I learn from one of my first experiences at BYU–Hawaii?

First of all, it’s okay to fail. If you fail, get back up, learn from your mistakes, get out of your comfort zone and learn new skills and strategies, and then try again. Second, when we ask the Lord for help, we need to do our part. Yes, I had a goal. Yes, I had the desire. Yes, I prayed for help. But the first time around I hadn’t done my part…I was not prepared. And third, and most important, the key to success is preparation.

Preparation for Greater Things

From the time we were created to now, we have continually been preparing. Before we came to this earth, we were preparing. Preparing the earth to be lived on, preparing ourselves for our mortal experience. You could say I’ve been preparing my whole life to give this devotional talk. But in all seriousness, while we are here on earth, our ultimate goal is to prepare ourselves to live an eternal life. When I talk about preparing ourselves, I don’t just mean the planning, but, more importantly, the carrying out of our plans, which brings greater blessings, greater fulfillment, greater joy, and greater opportunities to grow in our lives.

Today, I want to talk about three key points to remember as we prepare ourselves for greater things, both in this life and in the eternities.

The three things are:
1. Focus. 
2. Prepare with the Lord. 
3. Be confident in yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. 


We need to first ask ourselves what are we preparing for? What is our focus, or, in other words, what is our goal? Is it to do well in a class? To get a certain job after graduation? To get married in the temple? To be a better husband or wife, father or mother, and disciple of Jesus Christ? Most certainly, we all have a final goal of returning to live with Heavenly Father again and our loved ones. Different stages of our lives will foster different goals and it’s ok to focus on more than one goal at a time.

When I think of goal setting and focus, my mission immediately comes to mind. Lately I have been remembering my missionary experiences even more as my oldest daughter is serving as a full-time missionary in the California San Bernardino Mission.

My wife and I are blessed to be able to talk with her weekly. As we have talked over these past few months, I have seen her growth in being able to focus on the Lord’s work. Their mission goals are a big part of her focus. She recently excitedly told us that their mission reached their baptism goal for 2023 and subsequently shared their new goal. She is very focused on their mission wide goal and asked us to pray for her and her companion and for their mission to be able to achieve their new goal for 2024. When we have a goal in our lives, whatever it may be, it first requires focus. It should be something that we ponder, evaluate, and remember often. As we prepare with focus, it’s also a good idea to share our goals with others who can help us.

As my daughter focuses on their mission baptism goal, she also shared that it’s not the number so much as the desire to find individuals with love and care to be baptized. She knows that even with all their effort, it is the Spirit that will convert and touch the hearts of those they teach. Which brings me to my next point in preparing ourselves for greater things - planning WITH the Lord.

Plan With the Lord

Several times in the scriptures the Lord invites us to come and reason with Him. We must study it out in our minds, pray with the Lord asking in faith, write the goal or objective down, and then do it.

If there is anything I’ve learned in all my years of serving in various Church callings, it’s this—the Lord magnifies our efforts. And I would also like to add that the Lord magnifies our plan, sometimes even to the point where it looks nothing like the plan we started with.

When I was a young father, after graduating from BYU–Hawaii, I moved my family to Maui. I had a job working for a non-profit organization, which was a good, steady job. However, after working there for a few years, I knew I didn’t want to do this job forever as my long-term career. I wanted something different. About this time, I had an opportunity to audition for a very successful music and dance production on Maui—you could say it was Hawaii’s equivalent of a Broadway production. Part of me was still very much a performer at heart. Because the show was successful, the cast was paid very well. I auditioned and was surprised to find out I got the job. I was excited but also unsure because of the impact this job would have on my family. It was excellent pay, but I would be away nights and weekends. I eventually made up my mind to take the job, do something I enjoyed doing, and provide for my family as well. But before I accepted, I decided to pray and ask the Lord if this was the right plan. When we go to the Lord for direction, we need to make sure that our hearts are in the right place to receive that direction. That we are willing to follow His promptings. Well, when I prayed to include the Lord in my planning, I received a surprising answer—my plan was not good and the Lord had a much different vision for me. I received the strong impression that I should go back to school and get my master’s degree. Now, confession time, I was not the best student with the highest GPA. Getting my bachelor’s degree was hard. When it was time to take tests I would study really hard and I felt like I understood the material, but something in my brain would go a little blank when I would have to sit down and take a test, and I never did as well as I did in the everyday classroom. One of the last things I wanted to do was go back for more schooling and more tests! I had my “dream job” right in front of me! It was an extremely difficult decision, but I ultimately chose to follow the Lord’s plan and not my own. As it turns out, unbeknownst to me, my wife’s plan was already aligned with the Lord’s because before I had fully decided what I was going to do, GMAT study books arrived at our house in the mail. She had ordered them weeks before! (Men, if you don’t know what the Lord’s plan is just ask your wife—she already has the answer.) After I aligned myself with the Lord’s plan for me, I applied for and was accepted into the MBA program at Hawaii Pacific University. Following the Lord’s plan also brought challenges. It meant moving to another island for my family, it meant my wife would need to find a job to support us while I went to school, and it meant uncertainty. The Lord’s plan for me didn’t happen smoothly. Each step of the way had obstacles to solve and overcome, but as my wife and I took each step - for me to apply, for her to find a job, for us to find a place to live - pathways and solutions opened up for us.

We moved from Maui to Oahu. We found a place to live. My wife was hired for an amazing job that was flexible and gave her a car to use as well! With preparation and work, everything for the Lord’s plan not only fell into place but it was better than I imagined. Eighteen months after I started school, I graduated with my MBA.

That decision to get a higher degree has directly impacted my career to this day. I learned through this experience that one of the most important elements of preparation is planning with the Lord, which also sometimes means that your own plan gets scraped and kicked to the curb.

I sought the Lord for guidance, and He answered me. Sometimes, the Lord answers our prayers in a way we do not want. The real question is, what are you willing to do to follow the Lord? Will there be sacrifices that need to be made? I know that when the Lord gives you an answer, even when it is not the one you want, you must follow and obey. The Lord knows what is best for us, even when we do not. When He gives us an answer, we must trust that He is leading us in the right direction. It may not always be what we want, but it will always be what we need.

If you are struggling with a decision, I encourage you to pray for guidance. The Lord will always answer you, and He will always lead you in the right direction. Even when it is not the answer you want, you must trust that He is leading you in the best possible way, and any sacrifice will be well worth it.

Be Confident in Yourself (And Don’t Compare Yourself to Others)

Lastly, preparing for greater things requires confidence in ourselves. With true preparation, focus, and aligning ourselves with the Lord’s plan for us, we will be endowed with confidence. Not in a prideful or boastful way, but by having a quiet, sure confidence because we trusted in the best source possible—an all knowing, all powerful, and loving Heavenly Father. An important tip to help us have confidence is to avoid the natural tendency to compare ourselves to others. Remember each one of us is unique. Everyone’s path in preparing themselves is unique.

In the scriptures we read about Ammon, one of the sons of Mosiah. In Alma chapter 26 Ammon is speaking to his brethren about having strength in the Lord.

Alma 26:12 reads, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” [1]

The scriptures also talk about Moroni, the son of Mormon

In Ether 12:27-28 the Lord tells Moroni, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.” [2]

During my life, when I have felt weak and inadequate I remember this scripture, and it instills confidence within me. I remember that as I prepare myself to follow the Lord, WITH Him I can be confident. He will make weak things strong. In His strength I can do all things.

Now I have a short message to you single young men listening today. If you have a goal of finding your eternal companion, I am going to share with you the secret to success. The secret is mojo - also known as self-confidence. Step up! Shake the chains that bind you and ask girls out on dates! You will be successful! “For with God nothing is impossible.” [3]

Confidence will also come as you remember the stories of faith from the scriptures. The prophets in the Book of Mormon often rallied those whose faith waned by recounting the miraculous stories from the Old Testament.

Nephi inspired his brothers to obtain the plates one more time saying “Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea….Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.” [4]

He did this again when his older brothers refused to believe they could build a ship. He went back to the scripture story miracles recounting again the parting of the Red Sea, the manna from heaven, the water coming forth from the rock. [5] These stories of faith were Nephi’s pep talk to instill confidence in his brothers. If the Lord did the impossible for them, He can do it for us. Nephi only had the Old Testament miracles to draw upon, we have that plus all the scripture that has come since to boost our confidence. The miracles in the scriptures are an endless source of confidence.

Finally, confidence will come as you remember the sacrifices you made to get here. Many of you currently attending school here at BYU–Hawaii have sacrificed much. Always remember those things you sacrificed when the times are difficult at school. It may be the time you stayed up late to study for an exam, or the time you skipped a social event to work on a project. Whatever it was, those sacrifices were not easy, but they were necessary to achieve your goals.

Remembering the sacrifices you made will help you stay motivated when times get tough. It will remind you that you are capable of overcoming any obstacle, and that you are working towards something important. When you feel like giving up, think about all the things you have sacrificed to get where you are. That will give you the strength to keep going.

Remembering your sacrifices will also help you appreciate your accomplishments. When you look back on all the things you have overcome, you will be proud of yourself for what you have achieved. This pride will give you the confidence to continue pursuing your goals.

So next time you are feeling discouraged, remember the sacrifices you have made. They are a reminder of your strength and determination, and they will help you achieve your academic dreams. What did you willingly sacrifice for your education? What are you willing to do to follow the Lord?

Before I end, I want to take a few moments to recognize my parents who are in the audience today. I bet, while raising me, they NEVER thought I would be here at BYU–Hawaii giving a devotional talk. I want to thank them for being the first ones in my life to teach me and prepare me. I want to thank them for their sacrifices, their examples, and that they have always lived their testimonies, which is something I am striving to do with my own children. Thank you Mom and Dad. I love you very much.

In closing, as we do all we can to prepare ourselves in every needful thing, the Lord will magnify our efforts. One of my favorite scriptures is in Doctrine and Covenants 123:16-17 which reads,

“You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” [6]

Like the small helm keeping the large ship upright in the storm, even though our efforts may seem microscopically small, the Lord will reveal his arm in our lives and magnify our efforts to accomplish great things. As we prepare ourselves for greater things, as we focus, plan with the Lord, and have confidence with Him in ourselves, we can find success both in this life and look forward with hope, faith, and charity to receiving those promised eternal blessings. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Alma 26:12
[2] Ether 12:27-18
[3] Luke 1:37
[4] 1 Nephi 4: 2-3
[5] See 1 Nephi 17
[6] Doctrine and Covenants 123:16-17