“As you complete your formal education here at BYU-Idaho, you by no means have to put a period on your learning. You will continue to learn your entire life.”
This was part of the counsel and instruction Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy gave as he spoke during the winter semester commencement at Brigham Young University-Idaho on April 11.
Elder Maynes said that the graduates could continue to learn from daily experiences, from promptings from the Holy Ghost and through observation.
“Observation is a powerful way to learn,” he said.
Elder Maynes, who has been a General Authority of the Church for 17 years, said he still remembers learning from the examples of two apostles and attributes much of what he knows today to observing how they worked.
Elder Maynes said that by following the examples of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and today's prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, individuals will be able to learn how to live a benevolent life.
“Living a benevolent life means living a kind, big-hearted, good-natured, compassionate and unselfish life,” he said.
“What a blessing it is to have a Father who focuses His work and His glory on His family, on us,” Elder Maynes said. “His benevolence is also illustrated through two great gifts, which He has given His children to help them return to his presence.”
Those two gifts are the companionship of the Holy Ghost and His son, Jesus Christ.
“It is fascinating to me that His two greatest gifts to His children are both His associates in the Godhead,” Elder Maynes said. “Does the observation of these two great gifts help us understand our Father’s benevolence towards us? Does the life He lives in the eternities represent a kind, compassionate and unselfish life? Of course it does."
Elder Maynes said that the teachings of the world contradict the example of the Savior.
“The world teaches us that for one to win, another needs to lose,” Elder Maynes said. “Just think about it. This is taught every day in business, politics and even athletics. ...
“Do you see the danger of establishing this culture in the home? Most of the evils and problems of the world can be attributed to selfishness.”
Some detrimental forces caused by selfishness that could harm the family include pornography, abuse, violence and excessive debt.
“When selfishness becomes part of one’s character, it won’t be long until that person drifts off of his or her celestial course,” Elder Maynes said. “We will seldom go wrong or drift off our celestial course when we think of others first.”
The atoning sacrifice of the Savior is the greatest example of unselfishness, he said.
“Through His example, He taught us that for Him to achieve His eternal destiny, the whole world needed to win first.”
Elder Maynes quoted from President Monson's biography, To the Rescue: “'Opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.' ”
Elder Maynes said that by observing the positive example of President Monson, and the even greater example of the Savior and Heavenly Father, one is able to learn to live a benevolent life.
“Their examples clearly illustrate to us how we too can live benevolent lives,” Elder Maynes said. “We have the power to choose to live a kind, big-hearted, good-natured, compassionate, and unselfish life.”