News Release

A Lesson from President Oaks on Leadership: Focus on Eternal Things

The Apostle speaks to BYU–Pathway Worldwide, which has nearly 60,000 students in over 180 countries

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke to BYU–Pathway Worldwide students on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, to help them become “self-reliant servants of Jesus Christ and of [their] fellowmen.”

BYU–Pathway Worldwide is the Church’s affordable online university certificate and degree program. Nearly 60,000 students in over 180 countries benefit from its offerings.

Focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Although the world is and always has been full of tribulation, President Oaks said a focus on the teachings and life of Jesus Christ is a sure path to overcoming obstacles.

“There have always been challenging times,” the First Counselor in the First Presidency said. “We, the generations of your predecessors, have survived serious challenges, and so will you. The answer to all of these challenges is the same as it has always been. We have a Savior, and He has taught us what we should do.”

Hold to Eternal Things and Principles of Right and Wrong

President Oaks said students should hold on to the “things of eternity and the principles of right and wrong” that they are learning. Quoting Brigham Young, he said that “all our educational pursuits are in the service of God, for all these labors are to establish truth on the earth, and that we may increase in knowledge, wisdom, understanding in the power of faith and in the wisdom of God, that we may become fit subjects to dwell in a higher state of existence and intelligence than we now enjoy.”

Welcome Everyone

President Oaks, himself a former president of Brigham Young University (1971–1980) in Provo, Utah, also pointed students to Brigham Young’s receptive and inclusive attitude toward those who did not share his faith.

“It has never altered my feelings towards individuals, as men or as women, whether they believe as I do or not,” Brigham Young once said. “Can you live as neighbors with me? I can with you; and it is no particular concern of mine whether you believe with me or not.”

Brigham Young also said, “Our religion is adapted to the capacity of the whole human family. It does not send a portion of the people to howl in torment for ever and ever, but it reaches after the last son and daughter of Adam and Eve, and will pluck them from the prison, unlock the doors, and burst the bonds and bring forth every soul who will receive salvation.”

President Oaks said that “each of us should understand and emulate [these attitudes] in a world where many do not share our values.”

Exercise the Power of Creation

The pursuit of joy — lasting, eternal joy — is fundamental to the Latter-day Saint philosophy of life, President Oaks said (see 2 Nephi 2:25). One path to procure it, he said, is in the exercise of the powers of creation — especially creation that extends into the eternities.

“Surely our greatest eternal joy will be in the process and effects of the powers of creation that extend beyond this mortal life, giving joy throughout all eternity,” he said. “That is why, as God has revealed, ‘eternal life … is the greatest of all the gifts of God’ (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). … Treasure and enlarge your family connections. Cherish and use your opportunities for creation in eternal marriage. And value your friendships and opportunities for learning and service, for those efforts can also lead to the joy that is eternal.”

Read and watch President Oaks’ talk.

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