University Resources Vice President
Jeff Morrin came to BYU-Idaho in 2014 to teach finance in the business department. That changed last summer when he was appointed vice president of University Resources. Prior to coming to BYU-Idaho, he spent 19 years working in finance in the business world. He earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management as well as an MBA from BYU.
Brother Morrin has held many callings in the church. He currently serves as the high priest group leader in his ward.
He and his wife, Laura, are the parents of six children. This spring they happily added two daughters-in-law to their family.
We invite you to study and ponder on the scriptures and other preparation resources below previous to attending devotional. As you come more spiritually prepared the Spirit will have greater power to inspire you, teach you, and to testify to you of the truthfulness of the principles that will be taught.
- Why is finishing (e.g. enduring, persevering) important? Share on the discussion board in three or four sentences a time in your life when you were able to "finish" something even when faced with obstacles.
Our family is so blessed to be permitted to be at BYU-Idaho. It is truly a gift. I love this university and its mission. I love the Spirit that is here. I love the people with whom I have worked, both in the business department, where I began teaching, as well as the many people all across campus in my current role. I love the many students whom I have taught. My family and I have had many of you in our home for family home evening, dinner, general conference, homework sessions, preparing for job interviews, and carving a pumpkin for the first time. I even have a former student who is now a daughter-in-law.
I have thought about the topic of finishing for a long time. Over the past many months, I have had many thoughts and examples of what I could share with you. In fact, it was way more than we have time today. I actually became somewhat discouraged knowing that I couldn't share everything with you. However, I was comforted knowing that, for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see and hearts to feel, the Spirit will help each of you to hear, see, and feel what the Lord wants you to hear, see, and feel, regardless of what I may or may not say.
In the April 1972 general conference, then Elder Thomas S. Monson shared the following:
On sunlit days during the noon hour, the streets of Salt Lake City abound with men and women who for a moment leave the confines of the tall office buildings and engage in that universal delight called window shopping. On occasion I, too, am a participant.
One Wednesday I paused before the elegant show window of a prestigious furniture store. That which caught and held my attention was not the beautifully designed sofa nor the comfortable-appearing chair that stood at its side. Neither was it the beautiful chandelier positioned overhead. Rather, my eyes rested upon a small sign that had been placed at the bottom right-hand corner of the window. Its message was brief: "Finishers Wanted."
President Monson continues,
The store had need of those persons who possessed the talent and the skill to make ready for final sale the expensive furniture that the firm manufactured and sold. "Finishers Wanted." The words remained with me as I returned to the pressing activities of the day.
President Monson concludes,
In life, as in business, there has always been a need for those persons who could be called finishers. Their ranks are few, their opportunities many, their contributions great. (Thomas S. Monson, "Finishers Wanted," Ensign, July 1972)
Today I would like to talk with each of you about the importance of being a finisher. I suspect that even at this very moment, there are some of you who are contemplating whether or not you are going to be a finisher. You may be considering whether or not you are going to finish something as seemingly insignificant as that homework assignment you've been procrastinating for the past few days. You may be facing a decision of whether or not you are going to honor baptismal or temple covenants in spite of temptations and trials that confront you. You may feel as though you have been tossed to and fro in the storms of life that oftentimes come unannounced, storms which seem to relentlessly come down upon you, causing you to desperately seek for breath in between the crashing waves as you strive to press forward amidst the dark and gloomy nights with no immediate end in sight. Whatever you may be facing, some of you have made that determination to press forward, while others may have already prematurely admitted defeat.
I would like to share with you a few quotes that, for me, help define finishing. These quotes may describe it as grit, endurance, perseverance, or finishing, but all describe the same concept of being a finisher.
Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, stated, "Grit specifies having a passion to accomplish a particular top-level goal and the perseverance to follow through. Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare" (Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, 2016, 250). Let me repeat the last part. "Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare."
Angela Duckworth also wrote in the same book, "Grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity" (Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, 2016, 86).
Concerning those who fall short, John Greenleaf Whittier's words seem particularly fitting: "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, / The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'" (John Greenleaf Whittier, "Maud Muller").
Lastly, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin shared the following from the Second Encyclopedia in his October 1987 general conference talk:
Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it; so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success? A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed a hopeless failure may turn into a glorious success.... There is no defeat except within, no really insurmountable barrier save one's own inherent weakness of purpose. (Author unknown, Second Encyclopedia, ed. Jacob M. Brand, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1957, 152)
Which side of the line are you on? Will you even recognize when you are on that fine line between success and failure? Will you be a finisher?
There may be several different reasons why we don't finish. These could include discouragement, distraction, procrastination, "it's too hard," "it's too easy," lack of importance, fear of failure, lack of interest, or lack of organization.
I would like to focus briefly on just two of these reasons. First, discouragement. Elder John H. Groberg said, "Satan and his forces (the world) will do everything in their power to have you lose hope--to be constantly down on yourself, always discouraged, despondent, etc.... Satan wants to discourage you, for he knows discouragement and hope cannot exist together. So if he gets you discouraged enough, out goes hope."
Elder Groberg continued, "On the other hand, the Savior will do just the opposite. He will do all in his power to encourage you, lift you up, give you hope, help you in every way possible, so that with a 'steadfastness in Christ' we may attain to that 'perfect brightness of hope' and then discouragement and despair are gone" (John H. Groberg, "There is Always Hope," June 3, 1984, Brigham Young University).
Next, distraction. Elder Richard G. Scott said the following in the April 2001 general conference, "When things of the world crowd in, all too often the wrong things take highest priority. Then it is easy to forget the fundamental purpose of life. Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill life with 'good things' so there is no room for the essential ones. Have you unconsciously been caught in that trap?" (Richard G. Scott, "First Things First," Ensign, Apr. 2001). I ask each of you a similar question. Have you allowed the distraction of good things in your life to crowd out the essential?
This past week, I invited you to respond to the following two items on the discussion board. First, why is finishing (e.g. enduring, persevering) important? Next, I asked you to share a time in your life when you were able to "finish" something even when faced with obstacles. I really appreciated reading everything that many of you shared, and I wish we had time to have you all come up and share your thoughts. However, there is only time to have one of you share your thoughts. I have invited Clayton Brassfield to join me at the podium.
MORRIN: Clayton, why don't you introduce yourself. This may be the one and only time to do this here. Introduce yourself--where you're from and what you're studying.
BRASSFIELD: My name is Clayton Brassfield. I'm from Colville, Washington, and I'm studying psychology.
MORRIN: And he's also engaged to be married soon. So, Clayton, I really appreciated what you shared on the discussion board. Would you mind sharing with us your experience?
BRASSFIELD: So when I returned home from my mission, the very first job that I had was at a lumber mill. And working at the lumber mill was a lot different than any job I'd ever had. It was a lot harder, and I had no experience. When I first started, I was really, really terrible at my job. I had a lot of times where I just wanted to give up, because I knew that the guys that I worked with didn't like me because I was so bad. I knew that if I didn't get better, I could lose my job. One thing that always helped me to persevere and to finish this job and not quit when I wanted to or when I had other opportunities for other jobs was asking myself the question of how I could expect my future children to persevere in hard things when I couldn't do it myself. And when I thought about that, it helped me to continue on, and I eventually became really good at my job and became one of the best employees that they had. And now when I'm off track or not at school, they allow me to come back and work, even if it's just for a week at a time.
MORRIN: Thank you, Clayton. Like I shared with you earlier, I really appreciated the long-term perspective you had when you were trying to figure out what you were going to do and if you were going to continue in this job that was really hard at the time, that you looked forward to the future and considered your own future family. So thank you for sharing that.
I'd now like to give all of you the opportunity to share with a neighbor a time in your life when you felt you were a finisher. Please take 60 seconds to share an experience with your neighbor.
May those who shared your experiences on the discussion board, as well as all of you who have shared an experience with your neighbor, remember how you were a finisher and use that experience to help you when you need additional strength to finish.
Each of you will be faced with situations that will require you to choose whether or not you will be a finisher. I would like to share with you a few examples of individuals who were finishers in various aspects of life.
All of you who are students need to decide daily if you are going to be a finisher as it relates to your studies. I'd like to share with you an experience of one of my former students. I'll call this student Jenny (not her real name). I share this experience with her permission.
Jenny had a hard year with family and school. She was a convert to the Church of a few years and the only member in her family. She didn't feel much support from home. Also, she struggled with roommates and began to question if she should even be at BYU-Idaho. Life was hard.
One particular week, Jenny was struggling from lack of sleep due to many hours of studying. As a result, she fell asleep early Friday evening and then woke up briefly, only to fall asleep again until later Saturday morning. At this point, she realized that she missed submitting her homework for my class.
Jenny soon e-mailed me the following: "Hi, Brother Morrin. I woke up this morning and realized that I completely forgot to do the two assignments due last night. I was wondering if there is any way that I can make these up. I'm sorry about forgetting about them!"
I replied, "Jenny, I was sorry to see your e-mail. Once an assignment is past due, you are not able to submit it." I then gave her some advice on future assignments and then wrote, "Please let me know if you have any other questions."
Our communication continued on Monday, as Jenny wrote: "Hi, Brother Morrin. I was looking into my grade, and I have noticed that from missing these assignments my grade has dropped 17 percent. I am debating whether or not I should stay in the course. Thanks for your help."
Jenny felt she was in a bad place spiritually and was insecure about herself and her future.
Jenny and I soon met, and I could tell she was distraught. I told her that even though she wouldn't be able to fully recover her grade, she could still do well in the class and learn what she was supposed to learn. I strongly encouraged her to stick it out. Jenny did stay in the course and did learn what she was supposed to learn. She was a very diligent student. She even ended up earning a decent grade considering her original dilemma.
Later, after the semester, I spoke with Jenny more about her experience. She said: "I knew deep down I wasn't going to drop [the class] and get a 'W.' [I knew] if I just put everything into the course, it would be OK." She also gave me her philosophy on finishing. She said, "I never want someone to think [that I] gave up." No matter what happens, you are better off if you apply yourself and trust in the Lord and do the best you can.
Not only does being a finisher make a difference in school, but it also makes a big difference in the workplace. In fact, the ability to be disciplined in finishing tasks is something that many companies look for in potential job candidates.
In his book There Is Life After College, Jeffrey J. Selingo draws on the words of the author that I previously quoted when he writes, "Call it 'grit'--a term used by Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research has found that the most successful people are those not only with self-discipline but also with a singular determination to accomplish a task, no matter the obstacles. It's the deep passion Adam Ward at Pinterest told me his company looks for in employees" (Jeffrey J. Selingo, There is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow, 2016, 47).
Many of the best employees who worked for me in the business world were people whom I would consider finishers. When given an assignment, they would always finish it--oftentimes better than I imagined. They would usually come back to clarify things or to counsel on the best approach to take in finishing the assignment, but they would almost always finish the assignment as expected and rarely use excuses for not completing the assignment.
Next, I would like to ask my wife, Laura, to join me here at the podium. She can express this next experience much better than I could.
LAURA: I am grateful for just a moment to share with you a meaningful story of finishing in my life. I have to briefly begin at the beginning of my life. I was born to goodly parents, just like Nephi. My dad, a veteran of the Vietnam War, and a police officer, saw much of the ugliness the world has to offer. In 1976 he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when I was five years old. His decision, coupled with my desire to know our Heavenly Father, would change both of our lives, but not at the same time. Life took its toll on my dad, and he found himself outside of the Church off and on for many years. I was married to my sweet husband in 1991 in the Los Angeles Temple. It was a day I had prepared for and longed for all my life. However, it was a day that I broke my dad's heart. My dad had been my hero and the one I most wanted to please, but he had not been ready to make sacred covenants. As a result, my dad couldn't witness our marriage.
Fast-forward twenty-five years. All those years, I strived to be an example. I shared my testimony, I followed through on promptings, I made my share of mistakes, and I felt like much of it fell on deaf ears. However, on November 6, 2016, about 10 a.m., my phone rang. My dad, whom I have only seen cry once, was emotional and told me that he was holding a temple recommend. I wish I had time to tell you all that I was feeling. On Friday, November 25, 2016, in the Denver Colorado Temple, I witnessed my dad and mom being sealed, and then I knelt and was sealed to them. All our children were there except our son, who is serving a mission in Brazil. I asked my dad what made the difference, and he said, "I told the bishop that I think it is time." I might never know all the steps that helped my dad take that step to finish, in a sense, his conversion.
I testify to you the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in each of our lives, and the reality of change. I have witnessed it firsthand in myself and in the miracle of my dad. Recently, in two temples, I watched my dad serve as an escort to our sons as they were married to their sweethearts. As much as I wanted my dad to be there with me when I was married, my joy was so full those days, and it more than made up for his absence twenty-six years ago. How I love my dad. There is power in finishing the covenants we need to make here in mortality.
MORRIN: Thank you, Laura. I am also very grateful that you and several others never gave up and that we were all able to be in the temple last November.
Oftentimes we fail to recognize that it isn't simply the big things in life that matter; it is also the cumulative effect of consistently finishing the small things that leads to our eternal destiny.
Charles A. Hall described the following: "We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our characters; we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny" (The Home Book of Quotations, sel. Burton Stevenson, 1934, 845).
So it is with finishing. As we decide whether or not we will finish something, great or small, and as we act upon those thoughts, and as we develop a habit of finishing, it will ultimately determine our character--one known as a finisher, which will help lead us to our destiny of life eternal.
These patterns of finishing, similar to other patterns that we establish in our lives, such as daily prayer, scripture study, family home evening, temple attendance, and weekly date night with our spouse, will help protect us from the influence of the adversary and help secure eternal life.
In 2 Nephi 31, Nephi writes about the doctrine of Christ, including the importance of enduring to the end. "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:20).
That is part of the doctrine of Christ: to endure to the end, to persevere, to finish.
Christ Is the Ultimate Example of a Finisher
Let's discuss briefly about the ultimate finisher: Christ. There were many times when Christ chose to be a finisher during His earthly mission. Let's review a few of those instances.
At the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Then came Satan tempting Him. First, he appealed to Jesus's hunger by asking Him to transform stones into bread. Jesus responded, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Next, Satan tempted Him to misuse His divine power by taking Him to a pinnacle of the temple. There Satan told Jesus to cast Himself down and, if He were the son of God, angels would protect Him. Jesus responded, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Matthew 4:7). Finally, Satan took Jesus to an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Then Satan said, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9). Jesus responded, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:10). In this encounter with Satan, Jesus was able to persevere in the face of temptation.
Toward the end of His mortal ministry, Jesus had to endure much in the Garden of Gethsemane as He faced the final acts of finishing our salvation.
Neal A. Maxwell provided insight into the Savior's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said:
In Gethsemane, the suffering Jesus began to be "sore amazed" (Mark 14:33), or, in the Greek, "awestruck" and "astonished."
Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, "astonished"! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fulness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined! No wonder an angel appeared to strengthen him! (See Luke 22:43.)
The cumulative weight of all mortal sins--past, present, and future--pressed upon that perfect, sinless, and sensitive Soul! All our infirmities and sicknesses were somehow, too, a part of the awful arithmetic of the Atonement. (See Alma 7:11-12; Isa. 53:3-5; Matt. 8:17) The anguished Jesus not only pled with the Father that the hour and cup might pass from Him, but with this relevant citation. "And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me" (Mark 14:35-36). (Neal A. Maxwell, "Willing to Submit," Ensign, May 1985)
How easy it could have been for Jesus to have given up at this point and not have finished the work of His Father! However, He knew His mission, He loved us, and He carried on.
Jesus then endured unlawful trials before Jewish and Roman leaders. He was mocked. At Pilate's direction, Jesus was flogged. Roman soldiers insulted Jesus as they placed the thorny crown upon His head. Still weary from all the floggings and injustice, Jesus carried His own cross to the place called Golgotha. It was there that they crucified Him. During the intense agony of dying on the cross, it appears that God the Father left His Son's presence. Jesus, sensing that His father had left, "cried with a loud voice, ... My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). Soon after that, Jesus said, "It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). Even after His death, Jesus went to the spirit world and preached the gospel to those who were dead, "that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit" (1 Peter 4:6). Through all that Jesus suffered and endured, He became "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2; see also Moroni 6:4). Christ is our great Exemplar. He finished the work of His Father on this earth and even now continues His Father's work that we might have the opportunity to enjoy eternal life, or, in other words, the life that our Father in Heaven enjoys.
As demonstrated in President Monson's story of the message in the furniture-store window, the Lord needs each of us to be finishers. [M1] He needs us to be finishers in the seemingly routine activities of our daily lives. He needs us to be finishers when He asks us to do some really hard things. He especially needs us to be finishers as we progress through this life and endure to the end toward eternal life with Him and with those we love.
Even though I have talked mainly about the importance of being a finisher, I also hope that each of you has felt the immense love that our Heavenly Father has for you. "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Also, I hope you have felt the love that our Savior has for you in voluntarily giving His life as He became the author and finisher of our salvation. Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ love each of you and want you to be finishers and become the people They know you can become. I invite each of you to become the finishers that God wants you to become and thus, through Christ, obtain eternal life. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
[M1]There's some disagreement here between the independent clause and the phrase preceding it (attributing "similar" to "the Lord"), and I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to change it.