Many of us at Scroll have felt a wide range of emotions this week as we’ve learned President Clark G. Gilbert is leaving BYU-Idaho to fulfill his new appointment as the president of BYU-Pathway Worldwide.
As a staff, we have come to love and admire President Gilbert for multiple reasons.
We have been motivated professionally by his dedication to journalism and his work in the communication world. We have been inspired by his encouragement toward us. We have been impressed with his work in the Pathway program which has led to greater opportunities for thousands of people around the world.
However, above all, our greatest admiration for President Gilbert comes from his love for his wife, Sister Christine Gilbert, and his dedication to their family.
As an editorial staff, coming from all different types of families, we feel refreshed by President and Sister Gilbert’s open communication about their family during devotionals, date nights and via social media. It is something we have needed in order to strengthen our hope for our own families.
“I think young people today are afraid of marriage; they’re worried about commitment,” President Gilbert said in an episode of Latter-day Profiles. “Many of them have had their parents let them down, and they’re worried about doing that to their own children. In that climate, there can be a paralysis around marriage and the family. There can be an unnatural fear or concern.”
President Gilbert said in the episode that when he and his wife first received the call to return to BYU-I, they were specifically counseled to show their family to the students by involving their children in the university.
“I feel a real personal ministry to teach the importance of the family and to help students see that being in a family is a joyful thing; it’s part of the plan of salvation,” President Gilbert said in the episode. “It’s what makes us better people.”
In the episode, President Gilbert said he felt like some students tend to get tense when they hear another message about marriage. To help students feel more at ease about the topic, he and his wife wanted to teach the doctrine of family and marriage in a fun, safe and approachable way. So, that’s what they went about doing.
The Gilberts set the stage for testifying of the importance of family when they teamed up and spoke side-by-side for their first devotional address in spring of 2015. We loved their duo-style of speaking that clearly demonstrated the love and unity those two have had with each other.
The Gilberts furthered their message of preparing for our future families when they introduced “Date Night with the Gilberts” and shared their own dating experience with the students. Some of our staff actually attended the first date night together and were surprised by how much fun they could have going on an actual date.
Of all the ways in which President and Sister Gilbert shared their message of joy in family life, the one that resonated most strongly with us came from his social media accounts.
It would make complete sense for a president of a university to only post content related to the university and academia and whatnot. However, if one were to scroll through President Gilbert’s social media accounts, he or she would discover over half of his posts — as the president of BYU-I — include his family in some way.
We have been able to see what family life is like behind the scenes, without the formal attire and planned speeches.
“The one thing that I want everybody to know about our family is that we’re just like everybody else,” said Sister Gilbert in the video, “Meet the Gilberts.” “We’re no different. We have the same trials, and happy times, and sad times, and humbling moments and exciting things that everybody goes through.”
Through his actions alone, President Gilbert made it clear to students that families bring the most joy in life and should not be left by the wayside when professional opportunities arise.
As students constantly feeling pressured to reach our professional potential and who come from a variety of families and backgrounds, this message of reassurance goes a long way.
We hope that students will ponder the example we have seen from President Gilbert during these past two years and evaluate how we want to balance our lives professionally and with our families.
In his most recent devotional speech, President Gilbert said he hopes he and his wife have enough Rexburg in them as they take their next step in life. But, as we plan for our futures, we hope we have enough of the Gilberts left in us.