"MY DEAR YOUNG FRIENDS"
By President Gordon B. HinckleySelected quotes from BYU devotional addresses.
Few people have been as closely involved in shaping BYU’s distinctive
mission as President Gordon B. Hinckley. In nearly a
half-century on the BYU Board of Trustees, he has made hundreds
of campus visits; he began speaking to BYU audiences even
earlier and has addressed students and faculty in devotionals and
firesides more than 40 times.
In these talks President Hinckley opens his heart and mind
to students, his “dear young friends,” as he calls them, sharing his
trademark wit and wisdom, his prophetic guidance and warnings,
and his abiding love and encouragement.
As BYU prepares to build a new edifice in the prophet’s name,
the following excerpts from President Hinckley’s BYU speeches
and the accompanying photographs speak to this decades-long
relationship that continues to bless BYU and its students.
You Must Be a Leader
You are here majoring in math, in
chemistry or physics, in law, in English,
whatever. This schooling is designed to
equip you to earn a living in the society
of which you will become a part. But you
cannot simply sit in your laboratory or
your library and let the world drift along
its aimless way. It needs your strength,
your courage, your voice in speaking up
for those values that can save it.
If this university meets the purpose
for which it is maintained, then you must
leave here not alone with secular knowledge
but, even more important, with a
spiritual and moral foundation that will
find expression to improve the family, the
community, the nation, even the world
of which you will be a part. . . .
. . . You can be a leader. You must be
a leader, as a member of this Church,
in those causes for which this Church
stands. (“Stand Up for Truth,” Sept. 17,
1996, pp. 3, 5).
Experiment and Accomplishment
This institution is . . . a continuing
experiment on a great premise that a
large and complex university can be
first class academically while nurturing
an environment of faith in God and
the practice of Christian principles. You
are testing whether academic excellence
and belief in the Divine can walk hand
in hand. And the wonderful thing is that
you are succeeding in showing that this is
possible—not only that it is possible, but
that it is desirable, and that the products
of this effort show in your lives qualities
not otherwise attainable. (“Trust and
Accountability,” Oct. 13, 1992, p. 2)
Here we are doing what is not done in
any other major university of which I
am aware. We are demonstrating that
faith in the Almighty can accompany
and enrich scholarship in the secular.
It is more than an experiment. It is an
accomplishment. (“Remarks at the
Inauguration of President Cecil O. Samuelson,”
Sept. 9, 2003, p. 1)
Sleeping and Waking
I appreciate very much the music of
the [BYU Symphonic Band]. You are all
awake after that. I will do what I can to
restore you to your former state.
I have come here today without a
written talk. I had one but discarded it.
I awoke at five this morning thinking
of something else. When I get through
I suppose you will say, “He should have
slept.” (“The Loneliness of Leadership,”
Nov. 4, 1969, p. 2)
Rise Above the Clouds of Negativism
I am glad that you are young, and I hope
you are enthusiastic, because there is a
terrible ailment of pessimism in the land.
It’s almost endemic. We’re constantly
fed a steady and sour diet of character
assassination, faultfinding, evil speaking
of one another. . . . The tragedy is that
this spirit of negativism seems to prevail
throughout the country. . . .
I come this evening with a plea that
we stop seeking out the storms and
enjoy more fully the sunlight. I’m suggesting
that we accentuate the positive.
I’m asking that we look a little deeper
for the good, that we still our voices of
insult and sarcasm, that we more generously
compliment virtue and effort. . . .
My dear young friends, don’t partake
of the spirit of our times. Look for the
good and build on it. There is so much
of the sweet and the decent and the good
to build upon.
You are partakers of the gospel of Jesus
Christ. The gospel means “good news.”
The message of the Lord is one of hope
and salvation. The voice of the Lord is a
voice of gladness. The work of the Lord
is a work of glorious and certain reward.
I do not suggest that you simply put on
rose-colored glasses to make the world
look rosy. I ask, rather, that you look
above and beyond the negative, the critical,
the cynical, the doubtful, to the positive.
(“The Lord Is at the Helm,” March
6, 1994, pp. 3–4, 8)
Full of Wonder
I regard this as a unique and wonderful
university. I use that word wonderful in
its literal sense—that is, full of wonder.
Represented in this faculty is the accumulated
wisdom of all of the ages of
mankind. Whether their learning be in
the sciences, the humanities, theology,
the law, or whatever, these people have
qualified themselves in the accumulated
wisdom of the ages. . . .
This is the chief purpose of this wonderful
institution—to pass on to students
in a stimulating and provocative
and effective way the wisdom of the
ages in all fields of man’s endeavors.
The process is at times difficult. I know
the pressures are painful. The stress is
unremitting. But the rewards are tremendous.
When the Lord in revelation
invited us, yes, even commanded us, to
“obtain a knowledge of history, and of
countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of
God and man, and all this for the salvation
of Zion,” he set the broad parameters
of the wonderful curriculum of
this great and singular institution (D&C
93:53). (“A Wonderful and Unique University,”
Oct. 11, 1988, p. 2)
I am grateful to be here this Tuesday
when all of us are basking in the afterglow
of Saturday’s victory [over the
University of Notre Dame]. I congratulate
Coach Edwards and his associates. I
compliment most warmly the members
of the team. . . .
Our special elation is understandable.
BYU beat the team that over all the years
of football has been considered most
formidable. Notre Dame is the university
that won seven Heisman trophies
and eleven national championships. . . .
Last Saturday’s contest was a particularly
interesting one. Here were the teams of
two great universities, each sponsored
by a religious institution. Notre Dame
can take consolation from the fact that
they have won two out of the three
games BYU has played with them. But it
was sweet victory on Saturday. (“Codes
and Covenants,” Oct. 18, 1994, p. 1)
Trees of Faith
What a remarkable group you
[alumni] are. You serve on the faculties
of most of the universities of America, as
well as others abroad. You are scientists
who are making a tremendous contribution
with your discoveries and research.
You are doctors and dentists and lawyers.
You are architects and engineers.
You are educators, school administrators,
sociologists, biologists, economists,
and business executives. You are good
people who love the Lord and who in
turn are loved by Him. I believe you
appreciate your alma mater today even
more than when you were [students]. It
has left an indelible imprint upon your
very natures. The seeds of testimony
planted and nurtured in those early days
have grown into tall and rugged trees of
faith, which bring shelter and beauty to
many around you. (“A Great and Distinguished
Family,” Nov. 27, 2003, in BYU
Magazine [winter 2004], p. 67)
Golden Years of College
What a unique and beautiful place
this is! How rich and wonderful are your
opportunities! . . .
. . . I hope your experiences here will
be both challenging and pleasant. You
will likely never have a greater opportunity
for happiness. Cultivate good
friends while you are here. Drink in the
beauty of this campus—the sweeping
lawns, the trees, the magnificent buildings,
the mountains that rise to the east,
and the quiet waters of the lake to the
west. Be affirmative about your classes,
and look upon the demands of your
Church responsibilities as opportunities.
Be happy with singing and dancing,
enjoy football and basketball—yell when
you win; cry, if you wish, when you lose.
Experience the fun and the hard work;
both are part of the joy of being alive when
you are young and healthy, and your chin
is high with a smile on your face.
These are golden years. . . . Enjoy your
days, every one of them, and, when you
leave and the years pass with the cadence
of the seasons, may you look back with
fondness and smiles to happy times on
the magnificent campus of your beloved
alma mater. (“If I Were You, What Would
I Do?” Sept. 20, 1983, p. 2)
The Loneliness of Leadership
It was ever thus. The price of leadership
is loneliness. The price of adherence
to conscience is loneliness. The price of
adherence to principle is loneliness. I
think it is inescapable. The Savior of the
world was a man who walked in loneliness.
I do not know of any statement
more underlined with the pathos of
loneliness than his statement:
. . . The foxes have holes, and the birds of
the air have nests; but the Son of man hath
not where to lay his head. [Matt. 8:20]
There is no lonelier picture in history
than of the Savior upon the cross, alone,
the Redeemer of mankind, the Savior of
the world, bringing to pass the atonement,
the Son of God suffering for the
sins of mankind. . . .
I would like to say to you here today,
my brethren and sisters, there is loneliness—
but a man of your kind has to live
with his conscience. A man has to live
with his principles. A man has to live with
his convictions. A man has to live with his
testimony. Unless he does so, he is miserable—
dreadfully miserable. And while
there may be thorns, while there may
be disappointment, while there may be
trouble and travail, heartache and heartbreak,
and desperate loneliness, there
will be peace and comfort and strength.
(“The Loneliness of Leadership,” Nov. 4,
1969, pp. 3, 5–6)
It is an honor and a rare privilege to
speak to this “stone-cold sober” gathering
of university students.
You have done it again. You have made the national news. I was in Oregon on Sunday participating in a conference and read in the paper the Associated Press story of the Princeton Review
’s “Advantage Guide to the Best 310 Colleges.” . . .
. . . I said to myself, “What a significant
honor this is. It says in effect that BYU is
judged to be the number one large university
in terms of sobriety and a no-nonsense
attitude on the part of the student
body on why they are going to a university—that is, to gain an education to prepare
for constructive careers.”(“Stand Up
for Truth,” Sept. 17, 1996, p. 1)
The Great Day of Preparation
This is the great day of preparation for
each of you. It is the time of beginning
for something that will go on for as long
as you live. . . . Don’t be a scrub! Rise to
the high ground of excellence. You can
do it. You may not be a genius. You may
be lacking in some skills. But you can do
better than you are now doing. You are
students at BYU. Most of you are members
of this great Church whose influence
is now felt all over the world. You are
people with a present and with a future. Don’t muff the ball. Be excellent. . . .
You will find your greatest example in
the Son of God. I hope that each of you
will make Him your friend while you
are here and ever after. (“The Quest for Excellence,” Nov. 10, 1998, p. 4)
More than 30 of President
Hinckley’s devotional and fireside
addresses can be found online in their entirety at speeches.byu.edu