“Lift up your voice to oppose wrong,” Brother Devin G. Durrant, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency told graduates during commencement exercises at Brigham Young University-Idaho on July 20.
“If we don’t lift our voices, we will be drowned out by the voices of the world. The Lord declared that we need to let our voice be heard and that He will strengthen us as we do.”
This year’s graduation honored 1,940 graduates earning 1,582 bachelor’s degrees and 390 associate degrees. Of the graduates, 377 were online students and 186 of them started in the Pathway program. More than 50 percent of the graduates have served missions.
Other speakers included BYU-Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert and Mark B. Woodruff, assistant to the commissioner of the Church Educational System. The BYU-Idaho Concert Choir provided music during the event.
Basing his talk on the topic, “listening to the right voices in life,” Brother Durrant invited listeners to do four tasks as they listened to him speak.
First, he invited them to look back upon the various voices that have affected their life to that point. Second, he invited listeners to look forward and embrace the voices of the Lord and His disciples that will influence a person in the coming years. Third, he invited listeners to reflect upon how they respond to the voices of the world. Finally, he invited listeners to consider the power that their voice will have for good in the lives of those around them.
“As you reflect on your education here at BYU-Idaho, what voices do you hear?” he asked. “Who comes to mind as you think back on the voices that have significantly impacted you during your experiences here? Think of what they said. Think of how they said it. And think of how you felt as you listened to their voices.”
The Sunday School leader encouraged listeners to take a few minutes to reflect upon the voices they had heard in their home — of siblings and parents — and how their voices of encouragement, counsel and comfort have shaped their life.
“Seek out voices of those, within your family and elsewhere, who lift you in honest and sincere ways,” he said. “And strive to be that positive voice for others. … You have been taught much and will do much teaching of your own. What lessons will you teach and what will your learners hear and learn? Over the course of your lifetime what will people remember from your voice?”
Recognizing not all voices are positive and sometimes cause hurt and pain, Brother Durrant encouraged graduates to be careful in their own voice with others.
“Sadly, the voices we hear as we look back may, in some cases, bring pain as well as memories of harsh, critical or hurtful words,” he said. “As hard as we may try, painul words are difficult to set aside. Or perhaps the communication we think back on was lacking in other ways.”
That is why voices that lift and inspire are important, he taught. A person’s voice will have influence on their children, spouse, friends and associates.
“Whether the voices of your past fill you with joy or with pain, as you make your new beginning, consider the impact that your voice — or your silence — can have on others for both good and bad. Your voice can lift those with whom you interact or it can pull them down.”
Brother Durrant cautioned listeners about the “world’s voices.”
“These voices surround us,” he said. “They can be loud and obnoxious, concealed and cowardly, or subtle and deceptive. Sadly, I must acknowledge that the voices of the world seem to be having some success in changing hearts. This is not a new trend, but it is a concerning one.”