President and Sister Worthen address students in first fall devotional

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President and Sister Worthen gave the first devotional address of the fall semester on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (Hannah Gasinski)

President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen advised students to increase faith and “fear not” in the first devotional addresses of Fall semester on Tuesday, Sept. 12. 

Sister Worthen began her address with a personal story from her time as a student at BYU. She returned to school as a non-traditional student when her and President Worthen’s youngest child began kindergarten.

As an English major, Sister Worthen was excited for all of her classes — except for intermediate algebra. She had to take the class to graduate, but delayed taking the course until her senior year.

“The problem with procrastination is that what you choose to procrastinate never seems to go away — it looms large,” Sister Worthen said. “I finally registered for the algebra class, attended the first day of class and immediately knew that I was in over my head.”

Sister Worthen said she felt prepared for the final exam at the end of the semester, but ended up failing by “one miserable point.” A counselor directed her to wait one week and retake the exam before considering other options.

“The last thing I wanted to do at that point was to retake the test,” Sister Worthen said. “I left the counseling office determined I was not going to take that exam again.”

Sister Worthen received sympathy and assurance from her loved ones that she would not have to take the test again. But when discussing the situation with a close friend, she received the opposite of that support. Her friend said she must retake the test. Sister Worthen knew she was right.

Sister Worthen retook the test the following week and passed.  

“I am grateful I had the experience — even though it was, at times, very unpleasant and difficult. It was definitely a time of growth for me,” Sister Worthen said. “Although I didn’t master algebra, I was able to achieve success on the second try.”

Sister Worthen concluded her message by acknowledging the diligent work of BYU students and their obedience to the commandment to get an education.

President Kevin J Worthen tells a full Marriott Center to “fear not.” (Hannah Gasinski)

President Worthen discussed the concept to “fear not,” a commandment that is repeated frequently throughout the scriptures. He said not all fear is bad, but the “False Evidence Appearing Real” type of fear is “debilitating, sometimes paralyzing and almost always soul- and energy-sapping.”

President Worthen said Heavenly Father does not provide commandments without making it possible to obey them. He suggested four actions students can take when it is difficult to “fear not.”

  • First, students must acknowledge that fear comes from the adversary and it should not drive out their faith. To decrease the amount of irrational fear in their lives, they must increase their faith.
  • Second, students should focus on others and how to serve them rather than focusing on themselves.
  • Third, students must actively choose faith over fear when it comes to making decisions.
  • Fourth, when students think they cannot choose faith over fear, they must remember they already chose faith once before when it came to accepting Heavenly Father’s plan.

“Fear not. Whatever the circumstances you find yourself in, know with assurance that you can succeed.” President Worthen said. “You are more capable, more talented and more faith-filled than you realize. More importantly, you are more loved by God than you realize.” 

He closed his remarks with an emotional declaration that Heavenly Father lives and knows BYU students can succeed and help others to succeed. President Worthen said he hopes students will receive revelation and bore witness to the truth of the principles he shared.

Elder Richard J. Maynes, a member of the Seventy, will address BYU at next week’s devotional on Tuesday, Sept. 19.