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Living the Mission of BYU-Idaho

Look at your beautiful faces. It is a great pleasure to be with you today. I am humbled by this opportunity and pray that the Spirit of the Lord will be with us so I can share the message that God has prepared specifically for you.

As I prayerfully began my preparations for this address, I immediately felt that my talk should focus on the mission of BYU-Idaho. That feeling was quickly confirmed in meetings and conversations across campus. In one particular meeting, Brother Bill Riggins, our Diversity and Inclusion Officer, shared an experience he had in two of his religion classes. He asked approximately 100 students if they knew the mission of BYU-Idaho and none of them, not one, knew what that mission could be. As I prepared more intently, the Lord brought ideas, scriptures, and principles to my mind and heart, and I knew this would be the topic for today’s devotional. The mission of BYU-Idaho happens to be a topic that I am very passionate about. It means so much to me and I hope it will help you feel purpose and inspire you to take the university’s mission on as your very own.

The mission of BYU-Idaho states:

Brigham Young University-Idaho was founded and is supported and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its mission is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ who are leaders in their homes, the Church, and their communities.

The university does this by:

  • Building testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and fostering its principles in a wholesome academic, cultural, and social environment.
  • Providing a high-quality education that prepares students of diverse interests and abilities for lifelong learning and employment.
  • Serving as many students as possible within resource constraints.
  • Delivering education that is affordable for students and the Church.[1]

Then-president of BYU-Idaho Elder Kim B. Clark used to summarize this mission statement into three words, build, disciple, leaders. In an all-employee meeting, Elder Clark emphasized the importance of this mission:

The development of "disciple-leaders" is the focus of every aspect of BYU-Idaho. It is crucial that we all remember we are pursuing this mission in the 21st Century. At BYU-Idaho, we are developing generations of disciple-leaders for the world, and for the Church in the dispensation of the fullness of times.[2]

During this week of BYU-Idaho Spirit Week, you will have many opportunities to consider what disciple leadership means to you. But I would like to share a prophecy that President Henry B. Eyring made about you and your disciple leadership:

They will be natural leaders who know how to teach and how to learn. They will have the power to innovate and improve without requiring more of what money can buy. Those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become—and this is a prophecy that I am prepared to make and make solemnly—those graduates of BYU-Idaho will become legendary for their capacity to build the people around them and to add value wherever they serve.[3]

I continually marvel at these words. A solemn prophecy made by an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ that you will become legendary for your ability to build the people around you.

But how? How do we qualify ourselves for such magnificent capacity?

Elder David A. Bednar gave us a really big clue:

In this special and sacred and set apart place, you and I have access to unparalleled spiritual resources that can assist us in developing and deepening our devotion as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the primary and most important reason for the existence of Brigham Young University-Idaho and for its sponsorship by and affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[4]

Can you see it? It is the unparalleled spiritual resources that become our tool, the instrument in which we begin to practice, exercise, and magnify our talents to reach our potential. We gain access to those spiritual resources through our obedience to and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

I would like to share with you a few qualities I have noticed that seem to be consistent among the people at BYU-Idaho that I consider to be great disciple-leaders:

  • The Lord calls or brings individuals to BYU-Idaho.
  • Disciple leaders freely utilize the power of invitation.
  • Disciple leaders lift and lead where they stand.

1. The Lord calls or brings individuals to BYU-Idaho.

I bet you have a story! Did you experience a prompting or an impression to be at BYU-Idaho? Did it come as an answer to prayer? Or was it something you didn’t even know you were looking for? I have not come across a faculty member, an administrator, or a student leader that hasn’t expressed the story of their personal journey to BYU-Idaho. Their story usually ends with something to the effect that God made it clear that this was the place for them. I would like you to hear the stories of two students whom I consider to be great disciple leaders.

The first story is from one of my amazing students, Taylor Briggs. Taylor is the Student Area Director in Campus Life.

With her permission, I would like to share a story about Taylor Briggs and her journey to BYU-Idaho:

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to go to BYU Provo for college. It was the alma mater of both my parents and where they met and fell in love. They also had dreams of their children attending the school that meant so much to them.

So, every spring break, they would pack my siblings and I in a car and we would take a trip to Utah to visit the BYU campus. When junior year of high school came around, it was a no-brainer. I was going to apply to BYU as my first choice and I guess I would apply to BYU-Idaho as a “backup.”

While I was waiting to hear back from the Admissions offices, my family decided to take a trip to Rexburg. We have a lot of family in this area, and at the time, most of my cousins were going to school at BYU-Idaho. They took us on a little tour around campus and I fell in love with the atmosphere. As my cousins talked about what they loved about BYU-Idaho and their classes and professors, I started to seriously consider coming here for the first time.

When universities started to mail out acceptance letters, I was met with great news. I was accepted to BYU and BYU-Idaho! I now had a choice to make. After a few days of prayerful deliberation, I decided to attend BYU-Idaho. After my first year here, I knew I wanted to stay. I got involved on campus and made connections with other students and professors in my major. I really wanted to take charge of my experience here, and I’m so glad I did.

For the next student I would like to invite Ty Miler, the Student Director of Student Living, up to share his story:

When I first applied for college, my heart wasn’t in it. It was more something to be checked off the list rather than something I actually wanted to do. I thought of BYU as the place to be, due to my parents having gone there and all three of my older sisters. I applied. And then I didn’t get in. I did get into BYU-Idaho though. I came, half-heartedly, did a semester, and then left for my mission.

It was sometime between then and coming back from my mission that something changed. I returned with a better mindset and the intention to serve not only my Savior but my community. That is when I got an email from a program called New Student Mentoring and a phone call interview from Gabe Costa e Silva, who would soon become a really good coworker and friend of mine. He invited me to become a mentor and, that semester, I learned that I could be a part of miracles—even after the mission. The Lord still needed me. He needed us. What we do and where we serve matters. I went on to help lead mentors and I remember one vivid semester where I felt I found a fellow student that I needed to serve every single week. Today, in the work I do, I feel like that happens on a daily basis.

I originally came to BYU-Idaho because I didn’t get in where I wanted to go. I have chosen to stay because this university has taught me what it means to be a leader. And more importantly, it has taught me that we are to be disciples first. The Savior is the best example we have, and I promise you that, no matter where you are in life, following in His footsteps as a disciple-leader is the best thing you can do right now. I love Him and I leave my testimony of His love in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Do these stories remind you of your own journey to BYU-Idaho? I want everyone to think for a moment about your own journey. If you are still discovering your story, that’s okay! Maybe these stories will spark a memory or inspire you in your reason for staying at BYU-Idaho.

If you can remember the hand of God in your personal journey to BYU-Idaho, it can help you survive the difficult times when they come. It can help you not only survive college life but thrive in living the mission of BYU-Idaho!

As was mentioned in my introduction, I came to Rexburg, Idaho, before I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everyone then and everyone even now still asks me why on earth I would come to tiny Rexburg, Idaho.

Well, my story begins with the power of invitation. My best friend growing up was named Chantell. She came to Rexburg, Idaho, to attend what was then Ricks College. She wasn’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, but that didn’t last too long for her either. She loved her experience here. Every time we spoke on the phone, she would invite and encourage me to join her. Those invitations would end up changing my life forever.

For some reason, I came to Rexburg during the summer session without Chantell. I would take some classes, then we planned to come together for the fall semester. During that summer session, I lived in a house with 14 other girls, which I would not recommend to anyone.

However, there were two girls that noticed little things about me that indicated to them that I didn’t know much about the Church. I didn’t fast on fast Sundays. I didn’t go to ward prayer. And I didn’t have much interest in home evening activities. They kindly asked questions and could not have been more shocked to hear that I wasn’t a member of the Lord’s Church.

The next day came an invitation to read the Book of Mormon with them under the guise of preparing for a religion class I would have to take in the fall semester. I wasn’t very interested but agreed just to be gracious. They would ask me questions like, “How do you feel about the Book of Mormon?” I didn’t really know how I felt about it. But I would say things like, “Wow, that Laman and Lemuel need to get their acts together.” Then, with even more emphasis, the girls would say, “No, how do you really feel about the Book of Mormon?” My blank stare solicited the request to pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true. Again, I agreed just to be gracious. Night after night, I would pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true. Because I didn’t know any better, I would ask for a specific sign as an answer to that prayer. I would kneel there beside my bed and look around for the answer. Then, on about the seventh night of prayer, I felt the Spirit like a wave washing over me. Then I heard as clear as day, “Why do you keep asking me about something you already know is true?” I jumped up and pulled the covers over my head. I knew that I had received an answer to my prayer. It didn’t come in the way I was expecting. But it was clear and unmistakable. I knew in that moment that God was real. He hears and answers our prayers. And I knew that my life would literally be forever changed.

2. Disciple-leaders freely utilize the power of invitation.

I want to share a story from Elder David A. Bednar describing the power of invitation.

When Elder Bednar was president of BYU-Idaho, he and his wife, Susan, were speaking to a group of 250 student leaders. He invited them to prepare for the next devotional with then-Elder Henry B. Eyring and come dressed for devotional in their Sunday best. He challenged that group of students to an experiment where they would each invite five other students to do the same and ask that five to invite four more and that four would invite three and that three would invite two and that two would invite one.

Tuesday, when Elder Bednar arrived on campus, every student was dressed in their Sunday best.

How do you go from Friday night with 250 students to Tuesday at two o'clock with 12,000 plus students? And everybody got it—one by one.

Elder Bednar said, “And that's how it works, and that's how you establish the kingdom, and that's ultimately how thousands come.”[5]

Without Chantell, I would never have made my way to Ricks College. Without my two roommates I would not have read or prayed about the Book of Mormon. They all had the courage to invite someone to join them at something they loved.

My team recently experimented with that power of invitation in a campaign they called “Find the One.” They prayerfully asked the Lord to lead them to someone who needed a friend or a lift that day. They gave that person a “Find the One” wristband and gave that person an extra wristband to share with someone else who might need a lift. Some of you here today might be wearing one of those wristbands.

President Russell M. Nelson said:

The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire—no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers. . . . We can literally change the world one person and one interaction at a time.[6]

My dear brothers and sisters, the best is yet to come for those who spend their lives building up others.

3. Disciple-leaders lift and lead where they stand.

But who do we lift? We may not think we have the power to change lives or even change the world, as President Nelson said. We really don’t have to look much further than the small circle of influence we have directly around us.

Elder Kim B. Clark said:

The call to be a disciple-leader is a call to minister and to serve. It is a call to lead as Christ leads. It is leadership with a small “L”—the kind of leadership that builds and lifts and inspires through kindness and love and unselfish devotion to the Lord and His work. It is the kind of leadership that we need at every level of every kind of organization in the world and in every ward and stake in the Church. It is the kind of leadership you will need to build an eternal family.[7]

I want to show you this great video that can help you see what disciple leadership can look like in your everyday life:

Look around you, what do you see? A wall, a ceiling, a floor? You are in a disciple leadership training center. Right now. There are people counting on you to gain as much knowledge as you can so that one day you can lead them. You can’t see them. They can’t see you. But in time, you’ll help them plan cities. You’ll help them design school projects. You’ll help them run businesses. You’ll help them see who they really are. You will help them learn the gospel of Jesus Christ. “The work of the world is not done by extraordinary people. It’s done by ordinary people, who’ve learned to work in extraordinary ways.”[8]

When I was six years old, my mother used to pack me lunches for school every day. When I was a deacon, my leaders took time to teach me how to pitch a tent. Every day at school, my teachers prepare me for the world. Life is made up of small choices and random encounters with friends, family, and strangers—all of whom help slowly shape us into the people we are today. My life had been far from perfect, but I’m a better person today because of the ordinary people who’ve helped me in extraordinary ways. “Ordinary people who constantly and diligently do simple things will produce extraordinary results.”[9]

We will produce extraordinary results. President Henry B Eyring has promised us, has promised you, to have the capacity to influence others. He has promised you will be a lifter, teacher and a leader. We will bless our family, and our Church, and whatever place we may go and serve. These promises are powerful. We need to be consistent and diligent in order to produce extraordinary results. You can be a disciple-leader. What results will you produce?[10]

Disciple-leaders are just ordinary people. You, all of you, can become disciple-leaders. It is through the small and simple things we do each day. Remember God’s hand in your journey to BYU-Idaho, utilize the power of invitation, and lift within your circle of influence. You will access those unparalleled spiritual resources and become legendary for your capacity to lift and lead those around you.

I invite you to take a moment to think about one person who needs an invitation from you. Is it someone on campus that needs a friend or a sense of belonging? Is it someone back home that would benefit from experiencing the power of living the mission of BYU-Idaho in their own life? Pull out your phones and reach out to that person right now! You just might change someone else’s life forever, and you will be living the mission of BYU-Idaho!

I would like to close today by sharing my testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love Him with all my heart. I know that He lives. I know that He leads His Church, and that this is a university of His. I know that He loves you. He wants so badly to bless you in every way possible, to strengthen you, uplift you, and help you to reach your full potential. I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] “Mission Statement,” BYU-Idaho,

[2] Kim B. Clark, “Realizing the Mission of BYU-Idaho: Developing Disciple Leaders,” All employee meeting, May 10, 2007,

[3] Henry B. Eyring, “A Steady, Upward Course,” BYU-Idaho Foundational Addresses, Sept. 18, 2001,

[4] David A. Bednar, “Brigham Young University-Idaho: A Disciple Preparation Center,” BYU-Idaho Foundational Addresses, Aug. 31, 2004,

[5] David A. Bednar, “Elder Bednar in England,” Church News, Nov. 28, 2013,

[6] Russel M. Nelson, “Peacemakers Needed,” Liahona, May 2023,

[7] Kim B. Clark, “Leadership with a Small ‘L,’” Brigham Young University-Idaho Commencement, Dec. 14, 2007,

[8] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Dedication of Gordon B. Hinckley Building,” BYU-Idaho, Oct. 22, 2002,

[9] David A. Bednar, “The Importance of Small and Smile and Ordinary Things,” BYU-Idaho, Apr. 26, 2003,

[10] Seth Nehring, “Disciple Leader,” (video), BYU-Idaho Video, August 26, 2013,