That’s right—I’m writing about fishing. This fish is a lake trout and a dream come true for me. I caught him at Flaming Gorge on December 11, 2023. You should know that this fish didn’t just flop into the boat on his own. Oh no. Catching this fish was the culmination of a lot of effort. Each year, usually in December, I write out my New Year’s resolutions. In late 2022, I decided that one of those resolutions was to catch a species of fish I had never caught before. For a guy who has been a fisherman for over 40 years that’s a fun but sizable goal. Setting that goal was just the beginning of this adventure!
Simply dreaming of catching a new fish does not bring it to fruition. It took a lot of planning and patience. My best friends were there and helped with the planning and contributed to the fun in a major way. We needed a boat guide who knew where the big fish might be lurking, and which lures would give us the greatest chance of success. Considerable resources were expended. It took persistence. We fished all day. It was cold. We got hungry. But we stayed with it. The result was the fish of a lifetime. The guide said, “I know many a man who has mortgaged his future for a chance at a fish like that.” The fish of a lifetime.
So what does this have to do with anything? I will admit that I am proud of this fish, and I show this picture to pretty much everyone I talk to (many of you have already seen it!), but that’s not why I’m sharing this with the McKay School. By now I think it comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that here at the McKay School, we are trying to provide spiritually strengthening learning experiences for our students. President Worthen introduced this concept back in August 2016, and since then we have worked diligently to incorporate inspiring learning into our offerings here in the MSE. Last August at McKay Day in an effort to continue to work toward President Worthen’s inspiring learning edict, our dean presented four spiritually strengthening outcomes for our students and invited all of us to be anxiously engaged in helping each student achieve those outcomes during the course of their study. MSE students will:
Value the divine identity of all God’s children, including their own
Strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior
Build connections within a covenant community
Identify truth and direction through revelation
These are outcomes that, if achieved, will be strong evidence that we are providing spiritually strengthening experiences to our students. These are lofty, difficult outcomes. We cannot force our students to have spiritual experiences, but we can certainly offer opportunities for them. Not only can we, but we must. We must be working diligently to provide an education to our students that is intellectually enlarging and spiritually strengthening. We always have room to improve in both of these lofty parts of the BYU mission, and we are putting some emphasis on spiritually strengthening our students. They want it. They have asked us for it. It is time for us to deliver.
I fully recognize the challenges that may come from working towards such lofty goals. These are challenges we must face, and overcome, if we are to achieve the goal. We will have to be deliberate in setting a goal. We have to make real, specific plans to achieve our goal. We must involve others whom we care about, and who care about us—we need their help. We need the help of a more knowledgeable Other who can give us ideas on where to start and how to see it through to the end. We need to be wise stewards as we expend appropriate resources. We need persistence. We need tenacity. We need perseverance. If we do these things, we will “catch a big fish.” We will help one (or many) students value their divine identity as one of God’s children. We will help them strengthen their relationships with the Savior. We can play a vital role as our students build strong, lasting relationships within the covenant community. Through our efforts our students will identify truth and direction in their own lives by receiving revelation and inspiration.
I will end with this: the joy I felt holding that monster fish was incredible, but it pales in comparison to the joy we feel when we help those around us, especially our students, grow strong in the gospel, their testimonies, and their love of the Savior.