Elder Pearson BYU devotional: 4 principles of abundant living
Elder Kevin W. Pearson recently reconnected with a classmate from business school who has achieved “extraordinary success” in the world of finance.
This classmate told Elder Pearson, who served as a General Authority Seventy, that he had never understood Elder Pearson’s decision to leave his career to serve in the Church. “But I wish I had what you have. … I am envious of the family you have,” the friend said.
Speaking during a Brigham Young University devotional on Tuesday, Oct. 18, Elder Pearson observed that although his friend had attained much affluence and influence, he lacked what he now desired most.
“You and I have been taught principles of an abundant life; my friend had not,” Elder Pearson said.
An abundant life is a spiritual life, Elder Pearson explained, but today’s world is hostile to spirituality. “We live in a world of distraction, deception, contention, and division. Too many place passionate alignment with political and social causes ahead of determined discipleship and the cause of Christ. Meanwhile, others are consumed by the never-ending pursuit of affluence and influence.”
Those focused on such things will not find abundance — only isolation and scarcity.
Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during a BYU campus devotional at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.
Brooklynn Jarvis Kelson, BYU photo
President Russell M. Nelson hath told the youth of the Church that they were sent to earth at this crucial time in the history of the world to help gather Israel. He also has said that they have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation (Worldwide Youth Devotional, June 2018).
Elder Pearson noted that the Prophet did not say, “You are smarter and wiser. He said you have the capacity to be. This is a remarkable statement about your potential. What will it take to realize that capacity?”
President Nelson also said, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
Considering President Nelson’s statements, Elder Pearson said, “It is a bit disheartening to watch some returning missionaries immediately jump into rush hour traffic towards the nearest large and spacious building, … and guzzling the Kool-Aid of social media and pop culture instead of the living water of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Students need to “stand up and stand out; not give in and give out,” Elder Pearson said. “We need you to be leaders, a light unto the world, not spiritual casualties. This is a time of sifting. The Lord needs more of us to place exclamation marks instead of question marks behind prophetic counsel. He needs more engaged participants in His work and fewer passive observers — more determined disciples and fewer drowning in disbelief and apathy.”
Elder Pearson then suggested four principles crucial to spiritual survival and to living an abundant life.
Focus on the Savior
First, “place the Savior and your sacred covenants at the center of your life.”
An abundant life is not a life without challenges, setbacks or failures. “I can assure you of your fair share of adversity,” Elder Pearson said. However, adversity can teach individuals humility, empathy, compassion and gratitude, which are all essential to an abundant life.
“If we are willing, adversity can draw us closer to the Savior and give us wisdom and understanding.”
In the end, however, “we get what we choose.”
Although each journey may be uniquely different, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the universal pattern to finding greater abundance, Elder Pearson taught. “The great quest of life is not to discover our own truth, it is to embrace divine truth. The key is to align our lives with the Savior who said: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, but by me’ (John 14:6). He is our perfect pattern.”
A student takes notes during a devotional with Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy, held at the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.
Brooklynn Jarvis Kelson, BYU photo
Elder Pearson invited listeners to ask themselves: “What do I need to stop doing, and what do I need to start doing, to be more perfectly aligned with the Savior?”
Acting on the answers to this question will help individuals begin to live more abundantly. “Start there. If you get stuck, pray a little more earnestly, revisiting the same question.”
Aligning one’s life with the Savior is crucial to surviving spiritually.
Make and keep covenants
Second, “we must be willing to make and keep sacred covenants. Through covenants, we align ourselves with and bind ourselves to Jesus Christ. Every commandment, covenant and ordinance points to the Lord Jesus Christ and His infinite atonement,” he said.
In the most recent general conference, President Nelson taught: “The reward for keeping covenants with God is heavenly power — power that strengthens us to withstand our trials, temptations, and heartaches better. This power eases our way. … Thus, covenant keepers are entitled to a special kind of rest that comes to them through their covenantal relationship with God.”
Elder Pearson said there is a sense of spiritual apathy and casual covenant-keeping that is becoming increasingly common among those who should know and do better. “My young friends, I plead with you to take your temple covenants seriously. Keeping our sacred covenants with God is crucial, not optional.”
It is through making and keeping sacred temple covenants that individuals qualify for immortality, eternal life and a fulness of joy. “Are your baptismal and temple covenants central to your life, or merely ancillary?”
Companionship of the Holy Ghost
Third, an abundant life requires the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
“Remember, the Holy Ghost is the ultimate teacher. Without the influence of the Holy Ghost, we are effectively shut off from divine truth,” Elder Pearson said.
The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and principles for abundant living and spiritual survival. “It is our most powerful resource for growing and restoring faith in Christ and experiencing the influence of the Holy Ghost,” he said.
Elder Pearson told students: “The companionship of the Holy Ghost is priceless. The cost is devoted discipleship.”
As the Nephites waited for the return of the resurrected Savior on the second day, “they knelt … and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus. And they [prayed] for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them” (3 Nephi 19:8-9).
“I invite you to follow this same pattern. How would your life change if you constantly prayed each day to have the influence of the Holy Ghost and then lived worthy of it? How would it improve your ability to learn and master what you are studying?”
Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during BYU campus devotional held at the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.
Brooklynn Jarvis Kelson, BYU photo
The gifts of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith—are the essence of abundance, Elder Pearson said.
“The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is crucial to avoiding deception and living an abundant life. Many leave the Savior and their sacred covenants long before they leave the Lord’s Church. However, the first tragic step in this heartbreaking journey is losing the influence and companionship of the Holy Ghost.”
Attitude of gratitude and service
Fourth, “An abundant life requires an attitude of gratitude and a life of service to others.”
King Benjamin declared: “When ye are in the service of your fellow-beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:7).
“You have come here to learn; we hope you will go forth to serve,” Elder Pearson told students.
A hallmark of Latter-day Saints around the world is a willingness to serve others. “Serving is the essence of Christlike discipleship and abundant living. It is also the antidote to personal disappointment and discouragement. We hope your service will ‘have more impact on the world than any previous generation.’ Wherever you go, there are communities that need your influence and service.”
The greatest service, however, will take place within homes and families, Elder Pearson continued.
“I promise you that rich personal relationships will mean more than any other achievement, accomplishment, affluence or influence you obtain.”
Elder Pearson said that his wife and family are the abundance of his life. Prominently displayed in their home is a scripture that has continued to be a “defining maxim in our lives.”
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
“I plead with you to do likewise,” Elder Pearson said.