BYU business professor Eva Witesman spoke about what it means to be a powerful creator at the annual Disciple Scholar Lecture held by the BYU Honors Program on Tuesday, March 14.
“It is perhaps one of the greatest honors of my professional life to be here today,” Witesman said of the experience.
Witesman is the academic director of the Ballard Center for Social Impact and an associate professor in the Marriott School of Business. She was chosen by students in the honors program to be the speaker for this historical lecture.
Dr. Richard Gill, the dean of undergraduate education, introduced Witesman as someone who “exemplifies faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” and “who exemplifies a disciple as well as a scholar.”
Witesman’s lecture took the form of a story — the story of her life. She took listeners on the journey of her personal path of discipleship and how she discovered her identity and who God is to her along the way.
Across the screen above her were the words, “I am a Child of God.” Witesman expounded on how this early truth she learned prompted questions such as “Who am I?” and “Who am I to Father in Heaven?”
As she grew older, these questions became more complex. Witesman said the next truth she learned about God and her relationship with him was if she had faith even the size of a mustard seed, she could move mountains.
With all the faith she could muster, young Witesman stood in her backyard, stared at the mountains and commanded them to move.
When they refused to budge, she said a new question grew in her heart and mind — she wondered why her faith wasn’t enough to move those mountains.
Witesman continued telling the narrative of her life. She told of the storms and hardships that came, but with emotion recounted the literal and figurative rainbows that came to her in moments of anguish.
These moments of anguish led her to her “divine brother,” Jesus Christ, Witesman said, acknowledging how her relationship with Him changed everything for her.
As she continued to exercise faith in her Savior, her understanding deepened of her role as a powerful creator and what the role of power really looked like.
“As a child of God, I have agency. I have the power to act and the power to choose. The combination of those two things makes me a powerful creator,” she said.
However, Witesman was clear about how this power is not “power over” things like the mountains.
It is “power to achieve God’s will and power with others in God’s kingdoms and with God himself and the Savior Jesus Christ,” she said.
In addressing the connection to scholarship, Witesman said faith is really the only work she ever does, in every area of her life, and it fuels her creation. She said colleagues will often hear her say, “Let’s go build something beautiful.”
Witesman told those present they have the power to create every single moment they experience but counseled them to make sure their dreams are aligned with God’s will and His plans for them.
She closed by saying, “I want to remind you that you too are a child of God … You are a powerful creator. You have faith in Jesus Christ. You have agency to act. What will you create?”
One of Witesman’s students, Kelsee Gates, who is in BYU’s Master of Business Administration program, attended the lecture and expressed how grateful she was for Witesman’s example and deep knowledge of these truths. Gates said it helped her see more clearly how confidence in self and God could be manifested in her life as well.