Honor Code Office director invites campus to build divine communities

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Honor Code Office Director Kevin Utt encouraged devotional attendees to build and strengthen their communities in his campus address on Aug. 1.

Utt recounted an experience from years before when he was asked to serve in a Church calling that he felt was beyond his ability. He said the timing was not convenient, but he was strengthened to fulfill the assignment.

“As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have each had, and will have, regular opportunities throughout our lives to answer calls to serve in a myriad of ways that we myopically never thought within our capacity to accomplish,” he said.

Utt shared statements from President Russell M. Nelson about gathering Israel. Utt emphasized the importance of gathering and the opportunity communities provide for service.

Utt said those who attended the devotional are part of three significant communities: families, religious communities and BYU.

“I intend to connect our roles in these communities to President Nelson’s explanation for how we participate in gathering Israel,” he said.

In families, parents and children learn how to become more like God, he said. Family members develop patience, selflessness and compassion as they encounter difficult circumstances together. 

“Just as plants do not flourish if they are given short, intense, sudden bursts of sunshine or water, healthy growth in family relationships relies on frequent, steady and consistent care,” Utt said. “There is much joy, and much struggle in this learning environment.”

Religious communities are another place of growth, Utt said. Shared religious beliefs can unite people and increase trust.

For Utt, his religious community also offered support during a difficult personal time.

“We are meant to worship collectively,” Utt said. “I invite anyone who has found it difficult, whether due to past experiences, other commitments, or other priorities, to commit yourself to participating in Church services.”

The third community Utt chose to highlight, BYU, is unique. Unlike family and religious communities, membership in the BYU community is only for a season, he said.

According to the BYU Mission Statement, students and faculty should study and teach in “an environment enlightened by living prophets” and influenced by Christlike virtues before going into the world to serve.

“For BYU to be successful in this unique purpose, we need to create a unique atmosphere,” Utt said. 

BYU creates this environment through a focus on the positive rather than the negative, he said. The university encourages the development of positive attributes, moving beyond the simple avoidance of poor behaviors.

In seeking divine attributes and guidance, there are multiple good and correct options, Utt said. The current societal narrative stresses competition, often causing students to think there is only one path to success.

“I invite you to be cautious in creating a single path to success in this life, or a single career possibility; for there are many ways to fulfill God’s intents,” he said.

Utt described his career path as fluid, winding and divinely inspired. He said he believed God used his past experiences to prepare him for his current role as director of the Honor Code Office.

“Did God specifically direct me to that job at that time at that school, or did I make a choice to do something that felt interesting to me … and then God used me where I decided to stand?” he said.

As individuals make decisions regarding their unique educations and careers, they are better able to serve in the body of Christ, he said.

“I am grateful to be a member of this community, where each person strives to fulfill their role, while also exhibiting patience and support for others,” Utt said.

He concluded his remarks by encouraging the campus community to have faith in God and His plan and seek opportunities to serve in His kingdom.

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