Photo of Elder Holland

“Lean into the Wind”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
September 15, 2015


I want to thank Clark and Christine for organizing this belated wedding luncheon so that I would be able to attend. You see it was 21 years, seven months and three days ago—February 5, 1994—that I had the great privilege of sealing Clark and Christine in the Salt Lake Temple. However, I was not able to attend the wedding luncheon and in fact almost didn’t make it to the sealing itself as I remember. I have told the Gilberts all these years how disappointed I was not to join in the festivities that day; they in turn have always said they would make it up to me.

But really, kids—all of this? Just for me? I apologize to President Uchtdorf, Elder Oaks and all the rest of you for the extraordinary effort that has been put into this inauguration just so we could have that long promised luncheon. But what a tribute to Clark and Christine’s tenacity that they would go to such lengths, including looking for a new job, just to be kind to me. You shouldn’t have done it but obviously I am impressed.

At our luncheon today there is a special guest whom I would like to acknowledge. She is part of the official Gilbert party but I want to claim at least part of her. Janet, would you stand up. Folks this is Janet Calder. She is Christine’s aunt, a sister to Christine’s father, Jim. She is famous enough for all that she has helped Clark and Christine grow up to do, but Elder Oaks and I claim her because she served as personal secretary to both of us during our years at BYU in Provo. She also served three presidents after us—Presidents Lee, Bateman and Samuelson. And make no mistake about it—everyone on that campus knew who you were to talk to if you really wanted to know what was happening at the university. You had to go over to the president’s office to do it, but it wasn’t to talk to the president—it was to talk to Janet. She was the de facto CEO of the university, so Clark when your back is to the wall and you don’t know which way to leap, pick up the phone and call Aunt Janet. She has seen university presidents leap every possible way they can leap, so she will have plenty of options for you.

Let me share just a few informal pieces of advice with you, President Gilbert. We are so proud of you and know how successful you will be.

First, always remember whose university this is. That temple, which is virtually an integral part of the physical plant of this campus, will be a bright and beautiful, constant reminder of why we have this school, what we want for the students who come here, and what your real measures of success will be. This university exists as a gift from the faithful tithe payers of this Church, including millions of them who will never set foot on this campus let alone enroll as a student here. We have an obligation to them and to the prophets of God who account for that tithing that the school will always teach, defend, stand for and represent the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church He has restored to the earth in these latter days. Always remember whose university this is.

Secondly, lean into the wind. As commissioner of education I used to come here and kid the faculty that they all walked around campus at a 45-degree angle. They said that was because in Rexburg you have to “lean into the wind” to keep from getting blown away, and inasmuch as the wind blows in all directions simultaneously, everyone walks at a 45-degree angle regardless of where they are going. President Gilbert, winds will blow during your administration. Welcome them, face them, and lean into them. They will be carrying opportunities to you with every gust. Far be it from me to touch on a point of aviation with President Uchtdorf here but if I am not mistaken, a pilot always wants to take off and land “into the wind.” Ironically, that is how a plane gets its lift and the pilot keeps control. On a tough day, remember that the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon endured furious winds that tossed their new barges about, but those were winds which came forth “out of my mouth” said the Lord, and they blew toward the promised land. When winds blow, President Gilbert, welcome them as coming from the mouth of the Lord. Lean into them and seize the opportunities there. They, too, will lead to the promised land.

Lastly, enjoy this assignment. Savor every minute of it. It is a great privilege to preside here and the blessings will far outweigh the burdens. Be happy. Keep that terrific Clark Gilbert smile. Be thankful for the opportunity. Make it the happiest time of your marriage and family life. These years won’t come again so embrace them, magnify them, and remember them long after a comparable group of Church leaders not unlike ourselves come to release you at some future day. Be of good cheer always.

Let me conclude my little portion of the day’s activities by quoting John Masefield, England’s poet laureate during the difficult days of World War II. It was a time when individuals, communities and entire nations were looking for something to cling to, something to believe in, something to cast light into the dark shadows of war. In that challenging time and setting he said:

“There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university. They give to the young in their impressionable years, a bond of the lofty purpose shared, of a great corporate life whose links will not be loosed until they die. They give young people that close companionship for which youth longs and that chance for the endless discussion of the things which are endless, without which youth would seem a waste of time. There are few earthly things more splendid than a university. In these days of broken frontiers and collapsing values, when the dams are down and the floods are making misery, when every future looks somewhat grim and every ancient foothold has become something of a quagmire, wherever a university stands, it stands and shines. Wherever it exists the minds of men urged on to full and fair inquiry may still bring wisdom into human affairs.”

God bless you, Clark and Christine, to bring wisdom into human affairs and into the kingdom of God of which you and this university are a magnificent part. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.