Elder Robert D. Hales


Brigham Young University–Idaho Business and Communication Convocation

April 7, 2007



For the graduates, faculty and family and friends, to be at the convocation in the college at which you are graduating is quite an honor. I have sat here thinking of a number of experiences in my life that might help.  Years ago when I was in graduate school, I was in a graduate program where about one- third of those who had graduated - who were exceptional students- failed and were released from the graduate program.

As I watched them going from the left and right of me and knowing that I was not as bright as they were, I was called in by a district president to be an elder’s quorum president. I went home to my wife and I said, “I have been asked to be the elder’s quorum president. “It was one of the few times in my life, I didn’t say yes on the spot.


And I said to her,” I probably will fail in school if I take this calling.”


 And then she said, “we will, do both of them.”  And then she proceeded to kneel in prayer with me and I was taught a great lesson that I want to leave with you. In taking that assignment I understood that you can do the things of the world and the things of the Lord and get them done. That was the most difficult time.


Years later when I was president of Paper Mate and I was asked to be a bishop, it was easy. I had made that decision. Ten years later as a group vice president of a large corporation and they wanted me in 1975 to come and to be an assistant to the Twelve, it was an easy decision. I had made that decision when I was younger.


So I would like to ask you to remember that when those moments come in your life and you are asked to choose between the Lord’s ways and the world’s ways, just remind yourself you can do them both. You do choose the Lord’s ways, and you do what you have to do.

What I have learned in my lifetime, is another lesson. Never at any time during my career did the fact that I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stand in the way of my progress. And what I found from my sweetheart was that she always encouraged me.  She had a simple phrase, “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee and we will ascend together.”  “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee and we will ascend together.”


You have been in a greenhouse - almost an incubator.  We just had a few years ago, our youngest grandchild was six weeks in intensive care in an incubator and the lungs were developing so he could come into the world. He is now five and doing very well.


You are now in the same situation. You have been in an educational incubator. You have done some work possibly, but now you are going to go and find out whether with all the care that you have had, with the marvelous faculty and training, with the work you have done in your service.. .( I have a grandson, Andrew, graduating who is in the bishopric. So he has had to learn while he has been here how to do both) . . .but you will have to learn about change, and meeting challenges.


And I leave you with one last thought.  Years ago we were traveling with the family and we took them to Sequoia National Forest.  We saw these giant trees almost as big around as the center of this auditorium, but there was a sign that was very interesting. “Do not tread near the giant Sequoia for the roots are very shallow and you’ll compact the ground.” Sure enough, years later that famous tree which we stood and saw when my boys were young fell over because the tourists trod it down and the roots were very shallow.

May I give you one more thing to remember: drive that spiritual tap root deep and strong so that when the winds of adversity, trials and tribulations, when they blow and tear at the roots of your foundation, you will have dug spiritual roots so deep that like the mighty oak tree - different than the Sequoia or Palm tree, that goes over in the wind or the caves because of the shallow roots - that your tap root will be deep enough, that you will hold true and fast and that you will accomplish all that is expected of you.


Where much is given, much is expected.  And much has been given to you.  May the Lord’s choicest blessings be with you that you might understand the gifts and talents which you have, that you might honor them and as stated in the 46th section that your gifts and talents will benefit all who are around you and with you in your home as you were taught today, in the businesses where you serve, and in your communities, but most of all in the brotherhood and sisterhood which you share, that you will indeed lift and strengthen others.  I ask the Lord’s choicest blessings to be with you and leave you once again with my testimony of who you are. You are a son and daughter of God. You have been sent to get an education, to go to higher ground so you might lift and strengthen others, and to be able to be there when others need you, to use your creativity to help mankind further itself.

I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. If we will stay close to our Heavenly Father, and if we will follow His Son Jesus Christ, and then lead and follow those who come in contact with us, that you will let your light so shine that others will see that light and have the pathway lit for them that they can stay on that straight and narrow path and get to the tree of life, eternal life. I so pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


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