President and Sister Worthen welcome students back for winter semester

President Kevin J Worthen spoke about the importance of seeking out the truth, especially for BYU students. (Ryan Turner)

President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen addressed BYU students during the first devotional addresses of winter semester on Tuesday, Jan. 10. They shared vital tips to help students become more effective communicators and better seekers of truth.

Sister Worthen began her address by sharing a story about when she was a new mother and new occupant of the Provo area. She spoke about an experience she had while walking in the morning with a woman named Bertha.

Sister Worthen asked Bertha how her “shins” were doing from the uphill walk.

Bertha only heard her ask how her “sins” were doing.

“That experience, and many others like it, have taught me the critical importance of effective communication. Our ability to communicate with one another is one of the most important aspects of our lives,” Sister Worthen said.

Sister Worthen gave three simple suggestions to help students increase their ability to communicate effectively.

  • First, students should learn how to listen more closely and pay more attention to what is being said, even if that means putting away cell phones.
  • Second, they should be considerate of those who are communicating with them and the impact words and expressions can have.
  • Third, students need to remember their most important communication is with their Heavenly Father.

President Worthen spoke about the challenges students face in deciphering truth and explained the importance of understanding and seeking out truth. He emphasized the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year 2016, “post-truth” or when emotional beliefs shape opinion more than “objective facts.” President Worthen explained that even though there is confusion in understanding what is truth and what is not, truth exists. The truth can be discerned and it plays a major part at BYU to enhance students knowledge off the truth and ability to discern it.

“Thus, it is both important and possible for us to be able to discern, apply, and internalize truth, despite the fact that we may be living in a post-truth world. And one of the major purposes of your education here is to progress in that manner,” President Worthen said.

President Worthen talked about how at BYU, students are committed to study, recognize and discern truth through faith and searching.

“You should not expect that if you study enough and have enough faith, you will be able to complete the process before you graduate either from this University or even this mortal existence.  In a post-truth environment, indeed in any mortal environment, challenges will come and questions will arise to which we don’t have ready answers. How do we know in those situations what is truth?” President Worthen said.

President Worthen suggested four things that could help students better distinguish truth from falsehood and study by faith to learn about truth.

“First, when you receive new information, consider the source. Some sources are more reliable than others… More importantly, the scriptures are always reliable.  And they may serve as a measuring stick for other information. That is one reason they are called “standard works,'” President Worthen said.

President Worthen said that second, students must consider the context in which the information they are receiving arose and how it is being presented to them. Sometimes statements may be accurately reported, but still be untrue because it is taken out of context.

He urged students to evaluate new information in light of the entire plan of salvation, one guiding truth that provides accurate context for all aspects of life. By doing so students will be able to determine the veracity of the information and understand how important the information is.

“Third, be patient, both with yourself and with the process.  It is important to understand and remember that one purpose of our mortal experience is to learn to operate by faith – to discern truth without perfect knowledge,” President Worthen said.

If students want to understand truth they must first draw closer to Him, who is the source of all light and truth, according to President Worthen. If you have doubts about Him, than that is where students need to begin their process in their search for truth.

He closed the devotional by bearing humble testimony that Jesus is the Truth and that He can lead students to the truth. He promised that He is anxiously ready to bless them not only in their educational endeavors at BYU, but in all their doings in all places.

Brother Douglas D. Holmes, Young Men General Presidency, will address BYU at next week’s devotional on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

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