Read Time: 6 minutes
Richard Osguthorpe Speaking

On June 7, McKay School Dean Richard D. Osguthorpe delivered the BYU devotional excerpted here. On July 1, he assumed new duties as BYU’s associate academic vice president for undergraduate studies. Osguthorpe will always be “one of our own” at the McKay School, and we look forward to seeing the university community positively affected by his inspired emphasis on working morally in all of life’s roles. Here are some key takeaways from his devotional, in which he described the effects of “borrowing the light” of his mother, grandmother, and grandfather to illuminate dark times, spark healing, and access the love and peace of Christ’s gospel. You can read, watch, or listen to the address in its entirety at


Elder Heber C. Kimball warned that “the time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light” (in Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball [1945], 450; emphasis added).

I certainly agree that we cannot live on borrowed light alone. However, I do not think Elder Kimball was suggesting that borrowed light is inconsequential. Instead, I think he was simply declaring that borrowed light can expire. I believe there is great spiritual strength in bor­rowed light because of two powerful properties.

First, no one ever asks us to return borrowed light. Borrowed light might have an expiration, but it doesn’t have a return date.

Second, and connected to this first property, we can make borrowed light our own. Spiritual light is not loaned; it is freely given. Thus, when we borrow light, we can use it to ignite our own testimonies. That spark is the spiritual gift of believing on the words of others. Their words of testimony—the borrowed light—become our own faith-filled witness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as those words are received through the power of the Holy Ghost in our hearts and minds.

“To believe on their words” (D&C 46:14) is like borrowing a flame to light a spiritual fire. There is no need to return the flame; no one comes asking for it. We just need to continue to fuel the fire.

Throughout my life, some of my most sacred revelatory experiences have come through believing on the words of others—on the words of those who know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Each revelatory moment has provided a witness of Jesus Christ and His divine mission—specifically, how He is the light of the world, the healer of the afflicted, and the lover of our souls.

At a moment of deep apprehension, I felt the presence of my grandpa. As I sang the words of his favorite hymn, I felt he was speaking directly to me—imploring me to be strong and assuring me that I was on the right path. As though he were there walking beside me, he said, “Richard, everything will be okay for you and your family. God has a work for you to do. You are going home: you will be living on the property that you took care of in your youth. You have worked every inch of it with me, and I will be there with you.”

The heavens brought peace to my mind and comfort to my soul through the angelic ministering of my grandfather.

Dean Richard Osguthorpe speaking at the BYU Devotional

Like the descendants of those who were baptized by Alma in the Waters of Mormon, we are often faced with the choice to accept or reject the tradition of our fathers and to rely on the words alone of prophets, seers, and revelators. Hopefully, in making those choices, we avail ourselves of the spiritual gift of believing on the words of others, particularly the Lord’s chosen mouthpiece, the living prophet.

I still believe on their words, and my ability to interpret those words has improved over time as I have continued to listen with both my mind and my heart. That borrowed light has become my own—and my mother, grandmother, and grandfather have never asked me to return it.

I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that He is the light of the world, that He is the healer of all those who are afflicted in any manner, and that He is the lover of our souls. I do not doubt my mother, grandmother, and grandfather knew it; my heart has burned within me, and I have developed exceeding faith in their words alone. I have experienced Christ’s light, His healing, and His love. I have received that witness in my mind and in my heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, and no one can ever take that away. It is a firm foundation of faith that, in the words of my favorite hymn, “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!” (“How Firm a Foundation”). My witness is not a special one, but it is mine—borne of my belief on the words of others.


Photos courtesy of BYU Photo