Guide Reaching Prophetic Office: The Next Step

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  1. Prophetic Authority and the Ministry of Elisha
  2. Chapter 5: The Prophetic Ministry and Mental Health
  3. IMPACT MINISTRY OF THE TRIAD - Prophetic Insights
  4. Stirring Up Your Prophetic Gift

No program accomplishes the Church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. Thus, my own anecdotal evidence, in addition to some data from the alumni survey, suggests to me that we have some improving to do in this area. Most of us come to BYU precisely because we want to be in a place where we can talk freely about things sacred as they integrate with things secular.

Prophetic Authority and the Ministry of Elisha

Nevertheless, we must become much better at teaching with the Spirit. Nothing has a more powerful effect for good on us than hearing the gospel preached by the Spirit see Alma and I think the same thing applies to secular subjects. Nothing will so help our students put our subjects in perspective and be motivated to use their learning to bless others, to reject error, to embrace truth, and to conform their lives to it than the presence of the Spirit of God and the linking of our work to the gospel.

Consequently, a BYU education should bring together the intellectual integrity of fine academic discipline with the spiritual integrity of personal righteousness. The result is competence that reflects the highest professional and academic standards—strengthened and ennobled by Christlike attributes.

So how do we preserve and improve our delivery of this most precious gift to the youth of Zion who come here? We plan to foster a number of important initiatives designed to increase our learning and sharing of what we learn in this area. We will also focus considerable discussion and reading on what we know about integrating the sacred and the secular and about teaching by the Spirit. We intend to present some of our finest faculty examples of this kind of teaching across a broad array of disciplines and approaches.

We hope to develop questions, discussions, and readings that will be worth sharing even more broadly as well. We have also asked our Faculty Center to work with a team of faculty members to produce this seminar, and we expect a pilot program this coming spring. Regarding the Faculty Center, permit me a brief aside: We are grateful to Don Jarvis, Bonner Ritchie, and their colleagues in the Faculty Center for the skillful way they have founded the faculty development efforts of the center.

They have realized that faculty development is the work of faculty members themselves and of departments and deans, and they developed programs to facilitate our work in this regard. Don left in June to serve as mission president in the Russia Moscow Mission, and Bonner is taking a leave to the Middle East and will be stepping down in December of this year.

We will announce the new director and associate director following our meeting with the board of trustees in the middle of September.

In addition to developing a new faculty seminar, we have asked the Faculty Center to help us provide settings and opportunities for us to reflect on and share our learning about teaching by the Spirit and about how to integrate the sacred and the secular. As I have also mentioned, we have asked the Planning and Budgeting Office to help you—as departments—design measures and means to report your progress and learning regarding achieving the aims of a BYU education and other important goals.

Our conversations regarding efforts, outcomes, and learning should also help us to improve as a community in this most important area for BYU. Elder Bruce Hafen noted this difference last year as he commented on the same data from the survey of our institutional values conducted as part of the self-study. This line of thinking suggests yet one other way in which we can continue to improve as a community where we seek to live and teach by the Spirit.

I speak of the way we treat others whose views are different from our own.

Chapter 5: The Prophetic Ministry and Mental Health

Particularly in these sensitive times when issues about gender, ethnicity, and even academic paradigms like postmodernism and feminism present different perspectives, we must model for our students and for our colleagues throughout the academic world what it means to work together. We are all impoverished if we do not seek out and hire the best possible faculty regardless of their sex; if we do not listen thoughtfully and honestly to the perspectives of both genders; and if we do not make sure that our discussions and decisions appropriately involve both men and women. With respect to feminism, it seems to me that we can too readily embrace or reject ideas based on political or emotional or other motives.

My hope is that we can learn to carefully examine such ideas in the light of the gospel and the teachings of modern-day prophets. It seems to me that we can learn a great deal about the reading and interpreting of texts and about alternative perspectives from feminism, for example. However, there are also forms of feminism that would reject priesthood power or revelation through male prophets, or would teach erroneous views about the nature of God and his Christ. BYU should be a place where both the insights and limitations of feminism, or of any other perspective, can be examined thoughtfully and faithfully.

As John Tanner has said on many occasions, BYU should not be a feminist university nor a modern or a postmodern or a positivist university. My intent today has been to give you some of the reasons behind the themes we have developed. You may note that, of the five themes, I have been talking principally about 1 building on religious foundations; 2 improving educational opportunity of students; and 5 sharpening institutional focus.

We do need to sharpen our focus. We need to reduce, simplify, and clarify what we need to do well so that we can free up time to improve the freshman year and serve as many students as possible. We must also continue to build on our religious foundations if we are to fulfill our reason for being. We have drifted in recent years from our original roots in teacher education, and we want to make significant improvements in this area.


We simply must address these concerns. We believe that good teaching is our most important task. We also believe that good teaching and good scholarship are closely related. We are therefore prepared to accept the recommendations of the Balancing Teaching and Research Committee to revise the teaching evaluation form to make it more adaptive to different teaching situations.

We will also encourage more rigorous peer review of teaching to determine the competence and currency of a course, including the possibility of sending syllabi or teaching portfolios to external reviewers for assessment.

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We will also develop with deans and chairs a process for post—continuing status reviews every six years. Then, based on those reviews and evaluations, we will reward teaching excellence with rigor. Finally, President Bateman discussed with you yesterday some ways we plan to respond to another of your concerns and ours from the self-study: that we improve our communication with each other and improve the speed of our decision making. These themes have as much to do with process as they do with content.

That is, they suggest ways for us to move ahead to develop better institutional focus or to build more effectively on our religious foundations. We expect, for example, to learn a great deal about how to improve our service to students through developing measures of our aims and working with you to learn what is most helpful in achieving them.

The thought of working through a process together brings me to a final set of observations regarding our destiny and my sense of unfolding and of becoming, my sense of optimism just now.

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BYU certainly must continue to be the greatest university, unique and different. There should be an ever-widening gap between this school and all other schools. The reason is obvious. Our professors. What I have reviewed as I began this morning suggests that we are already beginning to accomplish some of these results, though not to the degree envisioned. How do we respond when we receive great promises but have a way to go before they can be accomplished?

Stirring Up Your Prophetic Gift

How do we respond, that is, to the gaps in our lives? My thoughts have turned to Abraham of late as I have felt more and more clear about what our focus for the next several years should be and have considered how we should approach questions like those I have just rehearsed.

Draper, ed. When the Lord promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations, he was 75 years old. He was years old when Isaac was born to a year-old Sarah! See Genesis and During this year wait, Abraham asked the Lord for an explanation and even proposed that a child born in his house could be his heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.