Elder Shayne M. Bowen, a General Authority Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, began his devotional address on Nov. 13 by comparing himself to Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.” Just as she drew strength from her southern plantation home, Elder Bowen said he is revitalized each time he drives on campus.
Elder Bowen said he and his wife both graduated from BYU and were engaged on the stairs near the Karl G. Maeser Building. Now, as the parents to seven children and 23 grandchildren, they find joy and comfort in their family.
“We have found and continue to find peace, joy and happiness through our family. True happiness is found as we strive to become an eternal family,” Elder Bowen said.
Elder Bowen continued by sharing one of his favorite stories about a farmer in England looking for a younger worker.
In the story, Farmer Smith was seeking a worker when he asked a young boy what he could do to help. The boy responded by saying, “I can sleep when the wind blows.”
The farmer was confused by the answer so he asked the question a second and third time, receiving the same response on each occasion. He recruited the boy saying, “Get into my wagon; we’ll try you out.”
A few weeks later, Farmer Smith found himself waking at 2 a.m. to the sound of a storm. Immediately, he checked for damages on the farm, knowing he would need the boy’s help to recover things. The farmer called up to his attic for the boy; with no response, he did what he could to wake him up.
The boy slept on, obliging the farmer to check each part of the farmyard on his own. In each area, he found the animals peacefully going about their business. Shortly afterward, Farmer Smith realized the boy had reinforced cracks and doors in advance to protect the animals from the storm.
“This young man displays what to me personifies character, honor and integrity,” Elder Bowen said. “Regardless of the circumstances, he would be prepared. His word was his bond.”
The young boy was prepared for the challenges he faced because he developed attributes that would reward him in fulfilling his potential, Elder Bowen said.
Elder Bowen also said he knows BYU students are intelligent enough to have been accepted to the university, but warned them to hold on to their integrity and character. Elder Bowen told students if they decide in advance how they will behave in certain situations, then their reactions will be instinctive in hard moments.
Elder Bowen challenged students to live the honor code they signed, saying it is a great opportunity to act in values rooted in honesty. He invited them to think about the great chance they have to be at a university stemming in Christlike attributes.
“There are literally thousands of worthy, prepared and bright young people worldwide who would love more than anything in this world to be sitting in the chairs you are sitting in today,” he said.
The attributes of character, honor and integrity require discipline and steadfastness, according to Elder Bowen. Making correct decisions may not feel natural in a specific moment, but is an obligation each person has.
He shared a story by Jules Feiffer titled, “Be Yourself,” about a young child who strived to “walk and talk” as his peers did, only to find a chain of people imitating each other. Eventually, the cycle reached back to the child himself.
Elder Bowen said this is representative of times in each person’s life when they might forget who they are and look only for happiness in empty things and people who they may not see again. Rather, Elder Bowen said happiness is found in reaching one’s own potential and becoming the person God wants them to be.
“My dear brothers and sisters, you are sons and daughters of God. You have within you the ability to become like Him and receive all that your Father has,” he said. “Your Father in Heaven knows you. He loves you. He created you. He wants to help you.”
After sharing poems by Rudyard Kipling and Ernest Henley, Elder Bowen concluded his address by returning to the story of the farmer and the boy, expressing his hope for each listener that when storms come, they will uphold their character, honor and integrity so they truly can “sleep when the wind blows.”
The next forum address will feature Christine Porath, an associate business professor from Georgetown University on Nov. 27 at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.