"Even before they were born, they... were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men." D&C 138:56
The meeting focused on the enduring elements that must not change amidst a season of change. Employees came prepared from reading selected messages.
Realizing the Mission: Developing disciple-leaders
Summary of All-Employee Meetings
October 4, 2007
President Kim B. Clark opened the meetings by sharing some introductory thoughts, which are summarized below:
We are meeting today to consider matters that are very important to BYU-Idaho and its future. This discussion began at the All-Employee Meeting on May 7, 2007, in which I introduced a framework that captures the enduring characteristics of the university - those things that must remain unchanging even as we move forward on the steady, upward course.
The ideas presented in that meeting were organized into a document that has been provided to you, along with a number of other readings, in preparation for today's discussion. We asked you to meet together in your respective departments to talk about what you read and share your insights into these concepts.
Our goal today will be to pull these ideas together and establish a clear vision of what this framework means for us and what the Lord wants us to do as we move forward. I hope you will leave here today full of the spirit of the Lord. I pray He will bless us to understand BYU-Idaho more fully than we have before.
President Clark asked employees for their thoughts on the following key questions:
What have you learned from your reading, study, and group discussions?
How is BYU-Idaho a temple of learning? What is the connection between the Rexburg Temple and BYU-Idaho?
How are leadership development and disciple preparation connected?
What is the relationship between the change under way on campus and the enduring characteristics of BYU-Idaho?
What challenges do we face as we work to realize the mission of BYU-Idaho?
The responses to these questions from both meetings have been condensed and compiled below. Follow-up questions from President Clark and the answers from employees are highlighted in blue:
1.What have you learned from your reading, study, and group discussions?
A linear investment with Christ helps you yield exponentially in your return.
I was reminded about self-mastery. I need to exhibit and embody that for my students.
I have learned that we need to trust students more. I have seen how students have received inspiration and revelation just as much as we do, if not more.
I noticed that being a disciple and being a leader are supplementary. They form a kind of whole that neither in isolation has.
We learned how important it is to have the Spirit with us every day. There are so many decisions you're making and so many people you're interacting with that, without the Holy Ghost, you might not make the right decision or do it in a way that helps others and sets the right example.
It was impressed upon me the potential and quality of our students. They are among the best and brightest. In a few short years, they will be our colleagues and priesthood leaders. If we don't "do right by them" now, we're going to regret it.
A leader is somebody who has influence for good over people because of his love, not because of his authority or position.
There are expectations for both the students and us as employees that we need to meet. There is an expectation that something good will happen here.
Improving the quality of every aspect of the student experience not only involves changing processes but improving processes. It requires a change of heart and the development of our faith.
The Spirit of Ricks is a beautiful way of talking about the functions of the Holy Ghost on this campus.
What is our role as employees in Student Honor?
It's a balancing act between reinforcing Student Honor and encouraging them to do what's right, believing they know what's right, and helping and trusting them to do the right thing.
Student Honor is actually the center of everything. When students understand what Student Honor means, they will have Christ at their center. As employees and faculty, we need to make sure we have the same honor as our core as we interact with students.
We shouldn't assume they understand the Honor Code. If they don't abide by the Honor Code, it's often because they don't understand it or may not be aware of it. It's up to us to remind them what the various aspects of the Honor Code are and why it's important.
We have to set an example. We are always being watched. Students are heavily influenced by how they're treated and how employees treat each other.
As employees, we need to understand there will be a transition for the new students who come here. They'll need help understanding the Honor Code and what they've committed to. We need to lift them to the higher standards.
Students can be asked to read the essential talks that describe Student Honor, the Spirit of Ricks, and the Honor Code.
In addition to teaching them, we have to trust students and let them "have their wings."
We should follow the same model Heavenly Father has given us: guidelines, commandments, and consequences for not being obedient. He trusts us to follow them; but if we don't, He follows through on the consequences.
How do we model the Honor Code for our students?
First and foremost, we must do these things in our lives. We're not asking students to do things we don't do ourselves.
What do you do if you see a student out of compliance with the Honor Code?
Tell them. I would do it in a lighthearted manner, without embarrassing them, but so they get the point.
Our way is to try to teach. For example, "I can see by the fact you have a beard that there's something you don't understand about your commitment. Will you please go to the Honor Code and see if you can understand?"
I asked a student to read President Clark's devotional about small and simple things. Afterward the student said, "I hadn't thought of it as a situation where honor was at stake. I was thinking of getting away with something." It changed his perspective.
I would need to be very careful about my motives. I would speak with them in a way that hopefully felt like an embrace and not scolding or condescending.
Sometimes we just enforce the rule with teaching the doctrine behind it. We should give students ownership of their behavior and ownership of this place. We can teach respectfully.
We have to love the students from the outset and teach them lovingly one at a time.
We should follow the pattern taught in the Doctrine & Covenants: implement correction right away and then show an outpouring of love.
We need to help students understand their commitment.
2. How is BYU-Idaho a temple of learning? What is the connection between the Rexburg Temple and BYU-Idaho?
I think this institution is a temple of learning because the Holy Ghost is the teacher.
As I go to the temple, I learn what I need to do to return to Heavenly Father. The Holy Ghost helps me see the things I don't want in my life and helps me understand how to rise above them and become better.
There are requirements to be in the temple. In our lives and our students' lives, we have to make course corrections to remain worthy to be here.
In the temple there is no criticism and no anger. We are taught with gentleness and kindness.
I feel the Holy Ghost here. The work being done here is an important service to the students. This place is as sacred to me as a temple of the Lord.
The temple offers a template for us to pattern our lives after.
In the temple we both lead and follow. We are trying to develop that experience here for the students as well.
The temple is a sacred, set apart place dedicated to learning, just as BYU-Idaho is.
The university is a kind of laboratory for us and the students to take what we learn in the temple and create that environment outside the temple in our homes and families.
When we go to the temple, we participate in a vicarious blessing of other lives. The same is true at the university. The students will be required to extend the blessings of their education as they go out into the world.
What happens in the temple and at "the school in Zion" are integral to each other's missions.
In the temple we learn to follow the promptings that come to us.
We have the opportunity for temple attendance that others in the world do not. We have the opportunity on this campus to learn things that other people do not. We need to make the most of that opportunity.
Both the temple and the university are founded in covenants, both prepare people to serve.
We have always been taught to make our homes a temple. For students, this university becomes their home for at least four years. We should make it a holy place and always have the Spirit.
In both the temple and the university, we only gain from our experiences when we are prepared and ready to act.
In the temple we find out who we really are.
Maybe the university is a temple with a little "T" and the temple is one with a big "T."
As a temple of learning, BYU-Idaho presents opportunities for both a secular education and a religious foundation.
At the university we learn to keep the covenants we make in the temple.
3. How are leadership development and disciple preparation connected?
As we teach small "L" leadership, we help students learn to serve the way Christ would. We help empower students and give them the tools to become small "L" leaders. They can move forward in becoming disciples.
I have to remember things like the Activities Program are leadership training in action. There is more happening on campus than just my classes and the other activities are achieving important goals too.
A disciple is someone who serves. If we can teach our students to serve others, they will be great leaders.
4. What is the relationship between the change under way on campus and the enduring characteristics of BYU-Idaho?
Revelation is vital. If revelation weren't geared toward change, then we wouldn't really need it. The world is changing and the Church is changing.
Revelation is on-going here, thanks to the Holy Spirit. That's a wonderful thing about working here. The Savior sees what this place needs to be for students to prosper in this world.
We have the unique opportunity to have the Holy Ghost help us. Our growth can become exponential rather than linear.
We should always think about how a potential change will affect BYU-Idaho and the Church.
There needs to be a balance between eternal truths and innovation. If we get too caught up in innovation, it can become experimental.
It would be interesting to go back in time and see what employees were talking about when Ricks College was established - probably some of the same things we're talking about. They were the beginning of the steady, upward course, not us. And it's going to continue on as long as the Lord wants.
We have to live true principles and doctrines with greater intent. Then we'll be blessed to find solutions to complex problems.
At about this point in the discussions, President Clark presented a diagram that illustrated the core characteristics of BYU-Idaho and how they relate to the continual change underway on campus. His remarks are summarized below:
The university moves forward on what Elder Eyring called the steady, upward course. Three of these frameworks, which represent our enduring characteristics, have been placed on this line, which represents the steady, upward course. They are all the same, symbolizing that these characteristics endure over time.
But there are also certain elements that are important to each specific period of time. In the year 2000, for example, the most important element during that period was the creation of BYU-Idaho. We launched a number of initiatives, represented by arrows. These initiatives included accreditation as a four-year school, launching the new bachelor degree programs, the internship program, the three track system, the Activities Program, and others. These elements are indicated by a yellow outline around the framework. They moved us forward for that period of time, but the core characteristics at the center stayed the same.
In 2005 we began some new endeavors that move the university forward and strengthen it. These include the three imperatives, which are to improve the quality of every aspect of the student experience, serve more students, and lower costs. To reach those goals, we have launched a number of initiatives, such as the Learning Model, Foundations, online education, student leadership, and others. This is represented by the green outline, which surrounds the previous yellow outline. As we do this over time, we will be able to build into the university a new set of capabilities.
What I have tried to accomplish in this diagram is to suggest that over time, the university grows and is strengthened as we add new capabilities and launch different programs. But the enduring character of the university remains unchanged.
As you look at this and reflect on the process we've been through over the last several years, there really has been a tremendous amount of change in this university. And there will continue to be. It's one of the hallmarks of BYU-Idaho. It will always be a place of innovation and education. I believe one of the challenges we have is to understand the relationship between our enduring characteristics and these initiatives that are designed to create change.
5.What challenges do we face as we work to realize the mission of BYU-Idaho?
Do I have sufficient faith to look beyond what I can see and realize I can do more if I have that faith?
Change is hard. We're used to doing the same thing the same way. Sometimes we need to get rid of pride and have some humility to see new things can be better for the students.
At BYU-Idaho your work and your life aren't separate. How you live your life has everything to do with your job.
We must find out what the Lord wants us to do. We have to change in ways that lead us to become what He wants us to be.
Sometimes it's hard to leave our "Nauvoo" behind and become what we need to be.
Sometimes we are tired - physically, emotionally, and mentally. We have to tap into the enabling power of the Atonement to progress beyond our individual limitations.
We need to work together as a team. We can't think that our actions don't have an impact on the entire group. We're all headed in the same direction together.
We have to move forward. We have to learn by doing. We can't just sit back and listen.
We shouldn't change solely for the glory of man. We have to be careful not to "show off." We are doing this for the glory of the Lord.
We have to choose to remember, to act, and to live. We have to remember our history and act on our past experiences.
We need to love each other enough to be honest and open about our challenges so we can overcome them together. We need a spirit of optimism.
The world is a major challenge that faces us and our students.
We have to learn and live the minimum standards so we can progress and gain greater testimony.
We should be continually looking for new ways to serve the Lord.
As our responsibility increases, our "response ability" also has to increase. We have to adapt to meet challenges and be better disciples of Christ.
We have to humble ourselves and ask for help.
President Clark closed the discussions by sharing his testimony:
We live in a very special time. It is not only the dispensation of the fullness of times, but the time in which we are preparing the earth for the second coming of the Savior. We have a responsibility to establish Zion and build the kingdom of God.
I believe we have not only the responsibility but also the privilege to receive great blessings from heaven. The Lord has given us this assignment. He has brought us here as part of His plan for us individually and for the university. Our great privilege is to receive revelation; those spiritual gifts that define and make up the Spirit of Ricks. It is the kind of help we will need to help the university continue to move on that steady, upward course.
I feel very strongly that as we prayerfully and faithfully seek to do what the Lord wants us to do, we will find answers and solutions. There will come to us - individually and together in our councils - new insights and new understanding that will become a reality in this place.
I was recently reading a conference talk that President Joseph F. Smith gave in 1918 just before he passed away. President Smith had many marvelous experiences in the last few months of his life. In this talk he spoke of living in the presence of heavenly beings. He said, "I live in the presence of heavenly beings."
He taught that those who have passed on into the spirit world have great responsibility there and are connected to us. They have great interest in what we do. They have responsibilities and assignments that allow them to participate in this great work. For in the Lord's eyes, there is no veil. It is all one work to Him. We will get tremendous help. We already have. We do now. We will in the future.
I also testify that what motivates all of this is the great love our Heavenly Father has for his children. Elder Henry B. Eyring spoke of that in his talk "A Steady, Upward Course." What brings all of this about is His great love for us and for those wonderful young people He has prepared and sent to earth, and who are here now on His errand. It is the same love that led Him to send His Son to the earth to die, to suffer, to take upon Himself not only our sins, but all of the characteristics of mortality and overcome them, so this great work can go forth in power and fill the earth, thus preparing the way for the Savior to come again.
We are greatly privileged to be part of this. What a joy. I want to thank you for all the work you do, the prayers you offer, the sacrifices you make, the long hours and the heartache and the hope and the energy you put into your work. It is a great work and you will be greatly blessed because it is the Lord's work. He knows His children, He knows His work, and He knows what needs to be done.
I leave you with my testimony of the Savior. It is a sweet thing to stand before you and bear my witness that Jesus is the Christ. That means we have a Savior who is our Redeemer. That means we can live our lives with hope that there is always a balm in Gilead. He is always there. I know He lives and loves us and will, when the time comes, come again. We will be there. I hope and pray to be there. We will either come with Him, or we will be there to greet Him. I know this university has a role to play in that great preparatory process. It is under way. I leave you my testimony and my love in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.