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Protection from contaminating influences

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PROVO, Utah — As young people center their lives in their Father in Heaven and His teaching, establish a set of guiding principles, identify the keys to meaningful success and serve others they will be protected from the contaminating influences of the world, said Elder Richard G. Scott.

Speaking at BYU's summer commencement exercises Aug. 10, Elder Scott of the Quorum of Twelve distilled the experiences of his lifetime into a few simple principles or standards. "Their fulfillment will require you to continue to live a life of obedience to the Lord's teachings," he said. ". . . It will require constant prayer and the courage to follow the promptings that come. It will result in the Lord guiding you and your footsteps in life to where you never imagined you could possibly go."

Elder Scott presided at and conducted the graduation ceremonies, during which 2,682 students received degrees — forming the largest summer graduating class in BYU history. Also in attendance were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and Commissioner of Church Education and Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy and BYU president.

During the ceremony, Elder Bateman spoke to the graduates and presented commencement speaker Neil Postman, chairman of New York University's Department of Culture and Communication, with an honorary degree. Whang Keun Ok, founder of the Tender Apples Orphanage in Korea, received a presidential citation. (Please see story on this page detailing accomplishments of Sister Whang.)

During his remarks, Elder Scott told the graduates that he has tested four principles and standards in his own life that, if understood and followed, will bring them happiness and success.

1. "Center your life in your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and in their plan of happiness.Focus the cream of your effort on creating an eternal family," Elder Scott explained, noting that some graduates may have already begun that objective as a wife or husband.

"Others," he continued, "are in the process of finding that eternal companion. Some may have feelings that you will not have such a blessing. Do not cheat yourself that way. If you have not done so, decide now that you will live to be led to an eternal companion. Make one of the highest priorities of life the formation of an eternal family. Then live to permit the Lord to guide you to that objective according to His timetable."

Elder Scott told the graduates that the greatest happiness in life comes as a wife and husband, mother and father, working together under the guidance of the Lord, to create an eternal family."

2. "Establish a set of guiding principles for your life, and never compromise them. Make no exception to them," said Elder Scott. "Difficulty in life begins when small deviations of true standards are made to justify a quick move to higher accomplishment. That pattern does not work in life."

Strength, he explained, comes from making no exceptions to foundation principles.

"Be honest and loyal. Keep your word. Keep your commitments. If your responsibility is to provide an income for a family, select work with good leadership in a field that really matters. Give more than is expected. Your background from this university means that minimum or average work is not acceptable."

As time passes, he added, eternal truth will become more important than any education or training. "Use all of the truth you have learned to form the foundation of principles upon which to guide your professional and private life," Elder Scott said. "Center those principles in gospel doctrine."

3. "With your gospel perspective identify the keys to meaningful success and consistently use them. Real success is not centered in wealth or position," he said. "True success comes from fulfilling the conditions of the Lord's plan for happiness, beginning when possible with being a good mother or father, and in forming a solid eternal family."

In short, explained Elder Scott, success comes only when one's actions are consistent with the teachings of the Lord.

"There will be times when life just isn't fair," he said. But "life is charged with opportunity when you seek the help of the Lord in finding it."

4. "Serve others." Elder Scott said immense happiness comes from serving others selflessly.

"Always have a Church assignment. Always. Don't ask for specific callings but ask to be used so that you can be constantly connected to the reality of eternal truth. That effort will keep your life in balance."

During brief remarks, Elder Bateman told the graduates that with their BYU education comes responsibility. "You have been provided with one of the best educational experiences in America. You have been armed spiritually as well as secularly. It is your turn to create a strong, enduring family unit, to be a good neighbor, to contribute to the well-being of the communities in which you live, to be the best employee at your firm or in whatever pursuit you find yourself.

"It is also your responsibility to serve in the Church, to lead others to safety, to participate in the harvest."

Mr. Postman told the graduates to look to their ancient Greek intellectual ancestors — the Athenians — for inspiration. "Among their values none stood higher than that in all things one should strive for excellence," he said.