Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, asked Brigham Young University - Idaho graduates on July 23 to be “spiritual entrepreneurs.”
Speaking at the university's spring commencement ceremonies, Sister Jones shared a story once told by President Dallin H. Oaks. He asked one of the senior Brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to read an exposition he had written, and then give his opinion on the piece. The feedback given was written at the top of the page: “Therefore, what?”
“As you graduates sit here tonight,” Sister Jones said, “you might be asking yourself a similar question, ‘Therefore, now what?’ You have just spent years acquiring wonderful knowledge and information. What is the conclusion of that acquisition, and what will you do next?”
She invited the graduates to consider all of the possibilities that now lay before them, emphasizing that they should pay special attention to what the Lord will place in their path. She then likened each of them to an open-minded entrepreneur, ready to implement their new skills by imagination, creativity and hard work.
“We often hear the phrase ‘entrepreneurial spirit,’” Sister Jones said. “I’d like to reverse that word order and talk today about being a ‘spiritual entrepreneur.’”
Sister Jones said that students made a commitment to study “spiritual entrepreneurship” when they chose to attend BYU-Idaho. The lessons students learn at the university don’t simply culminate in a degree earned, but in a knowledge that will continue to grow with them eternally.
She then outlined six characteristics and traits entrepreneurs have to help draw the parallels to a spiritual entrepreneur.
“In all descriptions of entrepreneurs, one of the foremost traits is enthusiasm,” she said. “Entrepreneurs are excited, even passionate about what they believe in. So, I ask you now, are you excited about the gospel of Jesus Christ and your personal relationship with your Heavenly Father and His Son?”
Calling upon Ammon in the Book of Mormon, she shared his story about how his brother Aaron rebuked him for his excitement in their success in teaching the gospel to the Lamanites. Ammon’s response shows his enthusiasm for the gospel and serving God. In Alma 26:11-12, it says, “I do not boast in my own strength,... but I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things.”
“Can you feel Ammon’s enthusiasm for and testimony of his purpose in bringing souls to Christ and his humble recognition of his dependence on his Savior?” Sister Jones asked.
Sister Jones said that, because of their passion, spiritual entrepreneurs are filled with optimism and won’t get caught spiritually napping. They won’t live in fear, but will be filled with power as they prepare for the Savior’s return.
“Another trait common among entrepreneurs is vision,” Sister Jones said. “They see possibilities. They see potential. They use vision as an aid to overcome obstacles and hold on during difficult times.”
Using Lehi as her scriptural reference, she said his family accused him of being a “visionary man.” Because the Holy Ghost influenced him to see what nobody else could, he became an important instrument in God’s hands to lead and direct his family.
Quoting Elder Tad. R. Callister, she said, “Would the God you and I know plant the vision and desire for godhood within a man’s soul and then frustrate him in his ability to attain it?... Why is it so critical to have a correct vision of this divine destiny of godliness…? Because with increased vision comes increased motivation.”
“Entrepreneurs are daring and bold,” Sister Jones said. Entrepreneurs are "willing to do what other people will not do, so that eventually he or she can do what others cannot do.”
Sister Jones said the willingness to be bold could ultimately lead to the ability to accomplish things spiritually that others cannot do. By making sacrifices such as exchanging time you would use to watch TV or scroll through social media, or increasing their fast offering, children of God will grow and be led to a land of promise.
“Are you up for the spiritual challenge?” Sister Jones asked.
4. Seeking excellent mentors
Entrepreneurs seek out excellent mentors, study everything about those people and spend time with them to become more like them.
Sister Jones said, “As spiritual entrepreneurs, to whom can you turn for excellent mentoring and tutoring? Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, ‘Jesus tutors and mentors His disciples and followers.’ If there is anyone you want to be ‘LinkedIn’ to, wouldn’t the Savior be the perfect choice?”
The Lord mentors Latter-day Saints in many ways, Sister Jones said, especially through membership in His Church. Callings are one of the ways He mentors. As people fulfill their callings, often doing things outside of their comfort zone, they humble themselves and rely more fully on the Lord.
5. Constant progression
“The best entrepreneurs invest in themselves and their potential by constantly progressing,” Sister Jones said. “Our desire to change must be greater than our desire to stay the same. And we must remember that every day is the best day for your spiritual upgrade.”
After sharing that up to 70 percent of child athletes quit their sport before age 13, she talked about the difference between relying on talent and the desire to improve. Professional athletes have put in the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to play at their level. The most talented athlete might only be a spectator because they didn’t put in the work to constantly progress in their talents.
“So, as the spiritual entrepreneur, brothers and sisters, go the distance,” she said. “Potential is often discovered through hard work and effort. The payday will come to those who ‘endure it well.’”
“Discipline breeds determination," Sister Jones said. “This is a godly trait we find described in the book of Abraham: ‘And there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it.’”
She shared that when she and her husband got married, they inscribed “TKOGON” on the inside their wedding rings. This is the acronym of President John Taylor’s life motto: “The kingdom of God or nothing.”
Spiritual entrepreneurs can’t simply see the gospel of Jesus Christ as their “side hustle,” Sister Jones emphasized. They have to put their whole heart and soul into seeking the kingdom of God.
“And that, in the final analysis, is the most important ‘business’ decision of your life,” she concluded. “I know that you will go forth and do much good in your occupations, your families and in building the kingdom of God on earth... I testify that by putting the Lord first in our lives, everything else will ultimately fall into place.”
Elder Kim B. Clark, a General Authority Seventy and former President of Brigham Young University - Idaho, shared memories of the building process of the BYU-Idaho Center and principles to live by with graduates.
“I believe the best way to keep the world out of your heart is to keep the Holy Ghost in it,” he said. “If you will live the plain and simple truths of the gospel, the Holy Ghost will be your companion. He will guide you, protect you, warn you and bless you.”
He taught that if people will keep the Holy Ghost in their hearts, the Lord will send them on His errand.
“When those promptings come, please act on them,” he said. “You will be the answer to the prayer of a bishop, a mother, someone to whom you minister, someone at work or even one of your own children.”
BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring also congratulated the students and shared words of wisdom that will encourage them as they experience the changes that lie ahead.
“The changes occurring in your life can be a source of personal growth and increased perspective, bringing into greater focus those eternal truths that never change,” President Eyring said. “With faith in Heavenly Father’s plan, the Savior’s Atonement, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, you will fulfill the prophecies that have been made to you at this inspired institution. You will lift the people with whom you come into contact, inspiring them to stand a little taller. And you will play pivotal roles in your home and in the Church, preparing for the Savior’s return and the ushering in of His millennial reign.”