Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve urged students to become agents through work, creation and service on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
The vast majority of the 19,000 seats in the Marriott Center were filled by the time the devotional started. Some people, like Caden Sterner, a junior majoring in history from Loudon, Tennessee, arrived as early as 9:30 a.m. to hear Elder Bednar speak at 11:05 a.m.
“This was one of those indescribable moments of your life … To (Elder Bednar), I’m sure it’s Tuesday, but to me — I won’t forget this anytime soon,” Sterner said.
Sister Susan Bednar addressed the congregation first. She shared two lessons she learned at BYU she hoped current students could also benefit from. First, she described how patriarchal blessings act as guides.
“If you don’t have a patriarchal blessing, I invite you to prepare to receive one … This blessing can help you better understand your relationship with our Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son and connect you to the ancient prophets,” she said.
Her second lesson was about those who keep their covenants will be strengthened.
“I wish I could emphasize adequately to you the importance of staying true to your covenants. I testify that through our covenant connection with Christ, we can experience amazing joy and happiness and also have access to His strengthening power, comfort and peace when difficulties and disappointments arise,” she said.
Elder Bednar began his remarks by telling the congregation that the word “work” and its derivatives appear in the Standard Works in English more than 1,100 times.
“Ours is a gospel of work — purposeful, unselfish and rendered in the spirit of the true love of Christ. Only thus may we grow in godly attributes. Only thus may we become worthy instruments in the hands of the Lord,” he said, quoting the late President Ezra Taft Benson.
Elder Bednar said although some people in the world see work in a negative light, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be different.
“Our understanding of the Father’s plan of happiness helps us to recognize that work is a necessity for spiritual progress,” he said. “As we each labor in mortality to accomplish God’s purposes, we are proved, polished and prepared for eternal blessings.”
Elder Bednar reminded students to see faith as a principle of action. Disciples of Christ have to work to make good things happen, rather than wait around for them to happen.
“Inaction negates the gift and blessing of moral agency; it is the antithesis of faith. Idleness, laziness, slothfulness, fear, apathy, and procrastination are the opposites of true faith in the Savior,” he said.
BYU students left the devotional with many takeaways.
“The part I really loved the most was when he talked about how God’s work is us … but then our work is to follow His commandments and love Him,” Ada Tripp, a sophomore from Los Alamos, New Mexico, said.
She and Holly Smith, a sophomore studying engineering from Tucson, Arizona, had arrived at the devotional as soon as the doors opened at 9:30 a.m.
“I was really struck when He said that the Lord … could have created a perfect world that was already complete but that we have a role to play here and so He left us room to be part of the creation process,” Smith said.
Those interested can find Elder Bednar’s devotional, along with past devotionals, online.