In a BYU–Hawaii devotional, Elder Robert C. Gay, General Authority Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke on the importance of overcoming life’s challenges by replacing misplaced time and attention with the things that matter most.
In his devotional address on Feb. 23, 2021, Elder Gay said, “Please understand and know that you cannot do the work God has called you to do through the world’s ways. Revelation from the Lord can direct you in school, business and science, as well as in Church.”
He added he was touched by the account of Jesus and His disciples on the Sea of Galilee. “No matter what is going on in our lives, the overarching reality is that God is not absent but in the details and can rebuke any storm,” Gay said.
To serve God by knowing His truth, Gay said, studying and experimenting upon God’s word is important. He promised students Heavenly Father would give them the knowledge they needed. “This is one of the preeminent truths of Joseph Smith’s First Vision: By revelation from God, we can know all needful truth,” he said.
Jennifer Lane, professor and dean of the Faculty of Religious Education, said Elder Gay’s focus on service and the consecration of our studies is key to having the right perspective with all we do. She said, “It is a blessing to know we can each get personal revelation about all the things we are doing, but we have to do what we are doing with an eye to God’s glory and not for the world’s praise.”
Gay remarked, “It is a serious matter to be here at BYU–Hawaii. The Spirit of the Lord is upon this institution with the intent of blessing the lives of all those who come here.”
This is part of the work God has for us, like the Prophet Joseph Smith, he added. “It should be instructive that before the Savior appeared in the Americas, Satan worked to cause the followers of Christ to discriminate and persecute one against another.
“By following gospel truth, we can overcome life’s challenges, remove the world’s incessant call to compare and aspire, replace misplaced time and attention with things that matter most and avoid becoming a stumbling block in the lives of those around us,” he said.
Jason Scott Earl, associate professor in the Faculty of Busines & Government, said “[Elder Gay] let us know we need to continue to focus on service [through Chateaubriand], who said: ‘In the days of service, all things are founded. In the days of special privilege, they deteriorate. In the days of vanity, they are destroyed,’” Earl said.
Elder Gay asked, “Are you taking God with you? Or are you letting the forces of evil that surround you distract or diminish you or cause you to straddle the fence?”
Lane shared, “When we teach the doctrine that prophets and apostles teach, we must focus on pleasing God and being true to his revelations.” She said members want others to like them, but like the apostles, they need to do God’s will.
Marcus Martins, professor in the Faculty of Religious Education, said, “Jesus Christ invites us to live a religion of blessings, not curses. Of peace, not strife. Of love, not hatred. Of service, not self-service.” With these thoughts always in mind, Martins said people will avoid being deceived by modern Korihors and Amalickiahs.
In his remarks, Gay discussed the current political and social climate in the United States. “I, like probably many of you, have spent real time reflecting over all that has transpired. In this process, I have felt both sadness and distress, but also resolve and peace,” he said.
Lane said Gay noted people all have things they are afraid of but added it’s important to remember that Christ has more power than external realities. “Christ’s atoning sacrifice is a truth we can look to and trust in,” Lane said. “We can have confidence that He has overcome the world, and He will help us to accomplish what He needs us to accomplish in our lives to build His kingdom.”
Gay provided an example of lifting the disenfranchised and loving your enemies. He recounted how two brethren in the same ward had a rift grow between them from unchristlike words they said to each other. But it wasn’t until one of them had to move, that he felt uncomfortable about leaving the situation as it was, he said. “In the parking lot, when they finally met” the brother apologized. “The other brother then said, ‘I have loved you less. That is my sin. I have loved you less.’”
Gay was introduced by John S.K. Kauwe III, president of BYUH. The opening prayer was offered by Thanasegar Rasaratnam, a junior from Malaysia studying supply chain operations and analytics, and the closing prayer was offered by Jango Bazar, a senior from the Philippines studying business management, supply chain and human resources.
Gay currently serves on the Missionary Executive Council and the Executive Committee of the Church Educational System. He also served as chairman of Self-Reliance Services, the Perpetual Education Fund Committee and as president of the Asia North Area before being called to the Presidency of the Seventy, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website.