In the last little while I have had a number of thoughts about what I should speak about today. And as I have prayed about it, I've decided to speak a little bit about something that is very near and dear to my heart. And I hope that you will pray for me that the Holy Ghost will come, that we will be able to learn together and that what is said in the next few minutes will be helpful to you.
Back in about 1931, then-Ricks College entered a very treacherous period of time. I it was the Great Depression, the Church was under severe financial pressure. The local authorities here at the time were informed that the Church would no longer be able to support the college in the same way. Although the support did not end, it was very small. There was a local board at that time, much like we have now in stakes and in the Church where we have a Board of Education that watches over the seminary programs and the institute programs and the stakes. That local board ran the school for a few years. It was very difficult.
The people who worked at the school at that time, the college, were small in number. There were probably at that time maybe 200 students. Everybody struggled. Back in the records you can see evidence that students who came often did not have enough money to pay tuition and so issued the university IOUs. We don't do that anymore. Also, apparently tuition was paid in kind sometimes. There were pay cuts, significant pay cuts for everybody. It was a very, very challenging time.
But the good souls who were here at that time believed so much in the school that they kept it going, amazingly for a number of years. And by the end of the 30s, the Church had come back and taken over responsibility again.
Also during that time, if you recall, if you have read that history, the Church decided to give all its junior colleges to the states in which they were located. That was true of Ricks College as well. But the state of Idaho wouldn't take it. It went to the legislature many times. The local legislators around here worked hard to present to the Senate, the House, and the State the prospect of simply receiving the college. But the State refused to accept it.
And so, it was kind of a little bit of an orphan. The Church had said, "We can't support it." And the State said, "We don't want it." It was the local folks who kept it going.
As I have thought about them, those people, I have wondered what they thought about the future of the college in the 1930s. When they looked ahead in their imaginations, what did they imagine? I don't think they saw BYU-Idaho and what it is today. I don't think they saw that.
One of the best indicators we have of vision in that time was [Hyrum] Manwaring who was president at the time. Many, many years later in 1954, he wrote a vision of Ricks College which went out about 60 years. He wrote it in 1954 and took it all the way out to 2014. But his vision of 2014 was realized in the 1980s. He did see expansion of the college and its growth. One aspect he got wrong. He envisioned a golf course on the south hill; and he waxed eloquent. In fact if you read his words, you would think he was inspired. But he was only inspired by his love of golf, because today on the south hill there is a temple of the Lord.
I don't think the people in the 1930s saw that. I don't think they imagined that the day would come that there would be thousands and thousands of young people coming to school here and that this would be a great university.
Now the thought that occurred to me was this: we stand in the same relationship to our future as those people in the 1930s stood to theirs. We can see ahead somewhat that there are great things that the Lord has in store. I think we see them just about as well as the people in the 1930s saw their future. There is much that is coming - much that the Lord has in mind for this place.
Prophets have stood on this campus and have announced prophecies about BYU-Idaho. I want to read a couple of them to you. Just to capture the power that is in the future and the power that is here now.
In 2001 President Eyring was here and gave that marvelous address we had you read about: "The Steady, Upward Course." In it he said this:" Students..." We've talked about this already today.
"Students will learn from example how to keep on a steady upward course in times of great change. They will see leaders and teachers and staff members for whom the Savior and His kingdom are at the center of their lives. From that example I make a prophecy."
And then he looked up and said,
"Now listen carefully.
From that example, they - you - will become life-long teachers in their families, in the Church, and in their work. They will bless others wherever they go by what they have learned about innovating with scare resources and treating all they have as if it were the Lord's.
You can imagine the joy of an employer or a Church leader when such a graduate arrives. The graduates will be at personal peace by having kept the commandments. They will be natural leaders who know how to teach and how to learn. They will have the power to innovate and improve without requiring more of what money can buy. Those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become - and this is a prophecy...,"
he said. If you've seen the video of that, you will see he raised his head up and looked at the audience. And I'm sure some of you were there. And he said,
...this is a prophecy that I am prepared to make and make solemnly-those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become legendary for their capacity to build the people around them and to add value wherever they serve. (Eyring, Steady Upward Course, BYU-Idaho Devotional, Sept. 18, 2001)
In 2005 Elder Bednar was here for my inauguration. At the luncheon he said this, something he said many times:
Now as I conclude I repeat a comment that I have made before. I hope you will remember this statement. The creation of BYU-Idaho was one of the most important educational events of the restoration. The lessons that are being learned and will be learned on this campus will influence many members and non-members the world over. The innovations that are initiated on this campus will bless the students and the faculty who attend here, and, over time, will have an impact in many areas of the world. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ is aware of, attentive to, and involved in the things that are taking place on this campus. I so testify and express my love to you. (Bednar, BYU-Idaho Inaugural Luncheon, October 11, 2005)
These prophecies and many more that I could cite chart for us a remarkable future. As I have thought about that future, it has become very clear that we indeed continue to build on a strong foundation. But we ourselves are laying the foundation for what lies ahead. Because of that, because of that pattern that we see in the history of this place, change - inspired progressive - is a way of life here. It is inherent in the very nature of this institution.
We are becoming good at changing. There is so much of it around us, and we are becoming good at it. In most universities, at least the ones that I am aware of, things change, but they change slowly. Here, things happen fast. It is because of the work the Lord has for us to do. And so change is such an important part of what we do.
In our history and in the emphasis on change that we experience in our lives here, we follow a pattern that is in the kingdom of God. I would just like to share that pattern with you today briefly.
In Daniel, chapter 2, which I had you read, there is the marvelous prophecy about the stone cut out without hands. And in verse 34 of Daniel, chapter 2, this is what we read; this is now Daniel giving Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of his dream:
Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. (Daniel 2:34-35)
Sometimes when we read this scripture and refer to it, we talk about the stone cut out without hands rolling forth on the earth. That's also referred to in the Doctrine and Covenants, but here in Daniel is a phrase that I think is very meaningful and important to recognize. And it says, let me just reemphasis it: "The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth."
In my mind as I have read that, I see this stone cut out without hands becoming a mountain, meaning it didn't just grow to become a big rock. It changed and transformed itself into a mountain so glorious and so powerful that it filled the whole earth. That's the kingdom of God. It is the kingdom that we live in; it is the kingdom of the restoration begun as a stone cut out without hands when the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Father, Eloheim, appeared to the Prophet Joseph in the Sacred Grove. That small event glorious and powerful became the stone, and the kingdom rolls forth. But it changes and develops as it grows, and as it becomes a great mountain.
We hear in the 82nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants that the same imagery of the kingdom changing and growing. In verse 14, for example, the Lord said:
For Zion must increase in beauty, and holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.
And of course in the 65th section that I had you read, we hear the same tone and the same image. Verses 5 and 6:
Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants there may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven...."
Do you see that word? "...which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven" (meaning He will bring heaven with Him).
...clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up upon the earth.
Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven and so on earth.... (D&C 65:5-6)
And so we see in the scriptures this sense that the kingdom is to be perfected. It is to roll forth and to change and to grow and develop so that it may be ready to receive the Lord when He comes, because He will bring heaven with Him. And so the kingdom of God on the earth must become heavenly and ready to accept the Lord when He comes. And then, we know, also from other scriptures, that once the millennium is finished, there is a great work to be done in the millennium, because in the millennium the Lord, Himself, will perfect His kingdom and He will present it to His Father.
Now that means that the growth and development of the kingdom has to occur in two ways: first, if you think about it, the institutions of the kingdom change. The institutions change. The practices, the processes, the organization, they change.
Think back to when you were a child. Some of you will recall the days of Junior Sunday School. Some of you recall going to Primary during the week and all sorts of things that are no more because they have changed the institute. The institution has changed.
There is a great example of institutional change taking place all around us in the kingdom, if we watch. I have been called to be a member of the 5th Quorum of the Seventy. I am serving as an Area Seventy, a responsibility that Elder Johnson once held as well.
Well long before the Quorums of the Seventy were organized the way they are now, there used to be hundreds of quorums of seventies. That has all been changed. Those are institutional changes.
But the kingdom has also changed in us. We must change. That is also important in the development of the kingdom because we are the kingdom, and we have to change. You can't read the scriptures and not come away with the realization that the Lord's plan is that each one of us will change. You recall the phrases that come to mind are many, but you recall that when [Saul] was anointed king of Israel, Samuel said to him, and the Lord will give unto you a new heart (I Samuel 10:9) and you will become a new man (I Samuel 10:6). We read in [Saul] all these images about the newness of life, and the new mind and new spirit.
In the Book of Mormon, throughout the Book of Mormon the echoes of us changing resonate all through that scripture. Probably the most famous is in Mosiah 3:19 where the angel taught, who came to King Benjamin and taught King Benjamin what to say when he came before the people. He told him that the natural man is an enemy to God and has been from the fall of Adam and will be forever and ever, unless what? Unless he changes. He yields to "enticings of the Holy Spirit, putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ" (Mosiah 3:19).
So all of us, all of us, are under command of the Lord to change, to grow and develop in the way the Lord envisions us that we might return home to live with Him.
These two kinds of change, the institutional change in the kingdom and the change in us are deeply connected-deeply connected.
Let me give you an example, a quick example. I want to give Elder Johnson enough time here today. If you go back and read President Eyring's talk or if you have prepared it, there is a passage in there about missionary work where he talks about of the true and living Church. One example he gives of the living Church is the faith of the members in the sharing of the gospel. He recounts the repeated wish of President Hinckley that we will retain a full fellowship of all of those that are baptized into the kingdom. President Eyring said, this is as I am quoting:
For years we have remembered the words of President David O. McKay: "Every member a missionary." I am confident the day is coming that through the faith of the members we will see increasing numbers of people invited to hear the word of God who will then come into the true Church.( Eyring, "The True and Living church, Ensign, May 2008, 20).
That takes change in us, change in our faith, in our witness, in our willingness to open our mouths. But there is also institutional change taking place, in missionary work - tremendous change if you think about it. Think just about Preach My Gospel, raising the bar for missionary service in terms of preparation of missionaries, the elimination of stake missions, placing responsibilities deeper in the wards, developing of ward missions, ward mission plans, new emphasis on the ward council, integration of missionary work, and reactivation. All of that is taking place in the kingdom right now. And so these two kinds of changes are deeply connected. We change the kingdom, and the earth rolls forth. The kingdom changes.
That same pattern is in place at BYU-Idaho, that is we see around us change - institutional change, changes in our activities, in our patterns of behavior, but also changes in us. So this is the thought I would like to leave with you and pray that the Lord will bless you as you ponder it. We must become really good at change because change will never end in this university.
There are so many great things the Lord has in store for us, but change and being good at it is not a matter of clever techniques or good management practice or being really skillful at project management or creative strategy. It is not even about good sociology or having difficult conversations or any of those things. All those things are important, but it is really a matter of our personal spiritual growth. We as individuals must become more and more like the Savior: must become pure in heart; sanctified and consecrated; open to the whisperings of the spirit; close to heaven so that heaven can come and bless us with the power, the strength, and the revelation we need to accomplish the Lord's purposes in this great great place. As we do that, I know the Lord will work miracles in our midst, and not only here in this university, but in your lives and in the lives of your families.
So I give you this promise and a blessing that as you heed the call of the Lord and the whisperings of the spirit to become more and more like the Savior, as you work to receive revelation in your work here in this university, the Lord will bless you and He will bless your family. You will feel the power of heaven in your life, and you will know that the Lord is at work not just here at BYU-Idaho but in your life and in the lives of those you love. I give you that blessing and that promise, and I bear my witness to you that this is the Lord's work. We have a loving Heavenly Father. He lives. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer. This is His church and kingdom. We are about His work. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.