Dallin Hansen, a music faculty member and violin professor, gave his BYU-Idaho devotional address on Aug. 31.
Hansen grew up in Idaho and enjoys hiking, climbing and immersing himself in God’s creations. He said these activities bring him closer to God and help him understand God’s eternal perspective.
“I love being in direct contact with God’s creations,” Hansen said. “It brings me closer to Him and helps me understand myself in relation to Him. I have often pondered the value of seeing the world from a higher perspective. Coming to the top of a mountain peak allows us to see more clearly, to broaden our perspective, and helps fit our smaller, day-to-day, world into a larger landscape. It takes our breath away. Our Heavenly Father sees the eternal perspective; this is as high as it gets!”
Hansen emphasized the power the Holy Ghost has to broaden each person’s earthly perspective. He encouraged students to seek the Lord regularly in all they do to invite the Holy Ghost into their lives.
“We can see glimpses of an eternal perspective through the power of the Holy Ghost,” Hansen said. “Perhaps you have experienced moments of clarity after pleading with the Lord in fervent prayer or feeling your mind expand as you have read and pondered the scriptures. These special moments expand our perspective. As we seek the Lord regularly, our hearts are more able to ‘yield’ to Him, overcome the natural man, and see things more consistently from a higher view.”
He taught about the higher view of university education.
“We should be careful when measuring the value of a university education,” Hansen said. “It is not determined only by what we learn but by what we become.”
Hanson described a university as one whole, a scholarly community that encompasses all fields and disciplines. He characterized it as a place in which scholars must be actively engaged in every aspect of their education, find connections between truths and open their hearts to new perspectives.
Hanson also discussed how a university is an environment and interactive space for students with a similar desire and purpose to grow together.
He spoke of the uniqueness of BYU-I and its purpose.
“This is no ordinary university,” Hansen said. “Yes, we are an institution of higher learning, and therefore inherit everything noble and good about that earthly designation. However, like all church-sponsored institutions, this is a university overseen by prophets, and our unique community is comprised not only of engaged learners, but of dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ. He is the head of our sponsoring institution.”
Hansen taught students how BYU-I was built on a foundation of both faith and sacrifice.
“Beginning in 1888 as Bannock Stake Academy, pioneering women and men suffered extensive hardship and personal deprivation to keep the early academy open,” Hansen said. “The principals and teachers would sometimes receive little or no pay, and instead would accept produce or other commodities to sustain them. Despite adversity, deep foundations of purpose and an unrelenting hope for the future propelled the school steadily forward.”
Hansen quoted Thomas E. Ricks who, early on, described the university as a place of learning where the gospel would thrive.
Ricks said the academy would “give spiritual precedence over worldliness; the principles of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ (are) to be taught side by side with arithmetic, geography, reading and other (earthly) subjects.”
Hansen believes that Thomas E. Ricks, and other early founders of BYU-I, saw the higher view of the university’s purpose and potential on the earth. He referenced the mission statement which states that BYU-I is a place to build testimonies of Christ’s restored church and provide a high-quality education to prepare students for the future.
To build a higher perspective, Hansen shared five applications.
1. Remember the higher view of BYU-I’s university education.
“In one sense, a good education is a worldly possession,” Hansen said. “It is a commodity with valuation and therefore can be used to ‘purchase’ opportunity, employment, and certain privileges, much like a currency. However, your education is much more. It’s more than a diploma or even an opportunity for job preparation. Its true value runs deeper. From the eternal perspective, your education is about self-improvement, progress, and ultimate godliness. It will yield worldly blessings because it is inherently good.”
2. Stop separating academics and spiritual truths.
“Pursuing excellence in both intellectual and spiritual areas constitute the same goal,” Hansen said. “Remember all things are spiritual to the Lord; in the eternal scheme, there is no distinction. Just as the spirit and the body are the soul of man, all learning can educate our whole: body, mind, and spirit. Pray for help and work diligently in every subject. Look to discover eternal truth in each field of study, and listen for what the Lord wants to teach you through His Spirit.”
3. Work diligently.
“What is diligence?” Hansen asked. “It is the consistent application of one’s mental, physical, and spiritual energy. It doesn’t mean we run faster than we have strength, but it does mean we are engaged. We take things seriously.”
4. Strive for personal excellence.
In order to strive for personal excellence, Hansen encouraged students to stop comparing themselves to others.
“Being excellent does not mean we seek to achieve someone else’s best,” Hansen said. “It’s too easy to unfairly compare ourselves with others. There is no single, universal scale measuring greater or lesser degrees. Each has been given their own scale, defined by gifts, talents, and opportunities. Our best, therefore, is not greater or lesser than someone else’s best, it is simply different – it is ours!”
Hansen also stressed the importance of failure in each person’s personal journey.
“As you strive to achieve your personal best, remember that failure is not only inevitable, it is essential,” Hansen said. “Please trust your trajectory. Don’t become distracted by the imperfect placement of your steps; avoid being unduly hard on yourself. Trust in the voices of those who have your best.”
5. Seek to serve others.
“Our opportunities and experiences here will help us to serve those around us,” Hansen said. “As you focus on being your best self, remember to turn your attention outward toward those around you. They need your love, attention, and specific spiritual gifts.”
Hansen closed by bearing his testimony that God lives and inviting students to work each day to develop an eternal perspective.