BYU’s vice president of information technology and chief information officer, Tracy Flinders, addresses BYU students about obtaining higher education and giving equal time to the Lord.
Flinders’ May 10 devotional focused on obtaining a higher education at BYU through heavenly help by giving the Lord equal time and remembering everyone’s identity as divine children of God.
Flinders explained how although he is not a faculty member or professor, he is a full-time student employee who is “informally, but intentionally” pursuing his higher education in the workplace. He urged everyone to continue their education throughout their life.
“We’re blessed to live in a time when the words of ancient and living prophets are literally at our finger tips,” Flinders said. “There is no shortage of inspired, powerful and relevant messages from prophets and apostles.”
Flinders said Jesus Christ is the source of “higher education” and that the definition of the concept is one that cannot be achieved without heavenly help and encompasses both spiritual and secular learning. This “higher education” will provide peace and answers to those who seek it, he said.
“The opportunity and promise of a ‘higher education’ at BYU not only includes the highest quality instruction and meaningful research, it also includes the direct influence of heaven,” he said.
As students pursue the higher form of learning, Flinders advised them to be patient with themselves and trust in the Lord’s timing that they don’t have to achieve perfection right now. Flinders said Jesus Christ is the “Master Teacher” and that students have the power to go straight to the source of truth by seeking him.
“His teaching methodology does not include signal-boosting popular, even critical theories or advocating secular, social, or political ideologies. He always teaches the truth,” he said. “His teaching credentials and credibility originate from who He is, the Son of God, and how He lived His life, not from the school He attended, the books He published or the letters that precede or follow His name.”
The second best teacher is the Holy Ghost, Flinders said. “The Holy Ghost both teaches and reminds,” he said. He also encouraged students to utilize the direct access they have to the two greatest teachers by praying and listening to the Spirit to “learn all that we need to know in this life.”
Flinders said his dad used to tell him, “If you will give the Lord equal time, together you’ll figure it out.” Flinders said this wise counsel from his father has proven true in every major question, challenge and decision he has had in his life.
In the devotional, Flinders only quoted scripture when it was directly quoting the Savior. He said he did this to invite the audience to listen for what the Holy Ghost whispered to them during the talk.
Flinders highlighted four invitations from the Savior to help students “give the Lord equal time” and become more like Christ: “come unto me,” “learn of me,” “come, follow me” and “go and teach.”
The last invitation to go and teach is connected with strengthening their brethren, Flinders said. He told the audience to reflect on themselves to see how their actions, however well-intentioned they might be, are affecting others and whether they are strengthening or weakening the faith of those with whom they interact.
“Our hearts, motives, and methods need to be pure,” he said.
Flinders said to all who are struggling with loneliness and despair or those going through a faith crisis, he promises that Christ will speak to them.
“If you can’t believe everything right now, at least believe that much. When life gets hard — and it does — the answer is not to turn away from God or to abandon our faith in Christ,” he said. “It is much better to hold on to the truth we know, while we work on the things we don’t know. With the blessing of time, continued faithful choices and the influence of heaven, even the most difficult, frightening, and unsettling ‘faith crisis’ can be transformed into one more step on our “faith journey” through mortality.”
Flinders said he believes God sees crises in different ways that we do. “He knows how real and difficult they are, but He can also see us emerging from the other side. If we give the Lord ‘equal time’ in our lives, together with Him, we’ll figure things out.”
Flinders concluded his message by discussing the doctrine of identity. He said in today’s “polarized world of divisive identity politics,” it is crucial to answer the foundation question of “who am I?”
“As children of God, we are literally one spiritual generation away from heavenly parents and we possess their spiritual DNA. This is our first, most fundamental and eternal identity. It is the identity God has given us — not one of our own making — and it is who we really are and who we’ll always be,” he said.
Flinders encouraged the audience to focus on identifying as children of God rather than identifying with characteristics such as gender, race, age, religion or more.
“Jesus didn’t spend much time on these parts of our identity. I wonder why? Is it because these terms inherently tend to divide us, rather than unite us, especially when we set our hearts upon them?” he asked. “Wouldn’t the world be a more peaceful place if we could simply view and treat each other as ‘children of God,’ ‘disciples,’ and ‘friends?'”
When Heavenly Father and Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, Flinders said this made two things “perfectly” clear: God is Jesus’ Father and the Father loves His Son, and as children of God, He loves all everyone.
Flinders said it is also important to note that in this same instance, instead of God answering Joseph’s question directly, Heavenly Father brought Joseph to the Savior to learn and likewise invites each of us to do the same.
Flinders said he hopes all students at BYU seek Christ to gain that “higher education” and hopes they give the Lord equal time in their lives so they can fulfill their divine destiny to become like Him.