In his Inaugural Response upon becoming president of BYU-Idaho, Henry J. Eyring spoke very little about himself. In fact, he spent the first half of his address giving tribute to the eight presidents who came before him, beginning with his father, President Henry B. Eyring. Such deference to others and their stories defines Henry J. Eyring.
He was an innovator dedicated to fulfilling BYU-I’s core mission: student-focused and cost-effective. This fall he will bring his business expertise back to the classroom at BYU’s Marriot School of Management, where he previously served as its director.
But these qualities come second to his testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here is a glimpse of Henry J. Eyring’s teachings from four separate devotionals he gave as president — all inspired by the stories of others.
Righteous persistence — through the life of Spencer W. Kimball
Prophets, Plans, and Persistence – Spring 2023 Devotional
President Spencer W. Kimball had every reason to doubt himself. Early in life, he suffered facial paralysis, typhoid fever and the death of his mother and four sisters. Later, he experienced throat cancer, heart surgery and cranium surgery.
Despite these setbacks, he was known as “being righteous like Job” and was called as president of the Church after the death of Harold B. Lee.
“Through the righteous persistence of President and Sister Kimball, we have been blessed individually and as a Church,” Henry J. Eyring said.
BYU-I is a nurturing place — through the lives of students
Nurturing – Winter 2023 Devotional
In this devotional, Henry J. Eyring shared the stories of two students.
Mattie Thomas, a BYU-I student, served as a Heber J. Grant mentor and housing manager. In those roles, she was able to listen to students struggling with homesickness, relationships, mental illness and poor roommates.
“I have learned that when I allow others to serve and nurture me, I am essentially telling our Heavenly Father that I am willing to learn and be molded,” Thomas said.
Bob Morely, the associate dean of faculty development, shared his experience as a student at BYU. Morely found his elderly landlord who explained that her grandson had recently moved in, and she’d just discovered that he had been partying and smoking weed.
Morely was determined to go and scold the young man. As he was about to do so, a dove attacked him and prevented him from approaching the man’s door. That night, after reading the story of Ammon ministering to King Lamoni, Morely’s heart softened.
Instead of rebuking the young man, Morely invited him over and became his friend. As time went on, the man changed and served a mission.
The miracle of repentance — through the life of his grandfather
Not Blind Faith, but Big Faith – Winter 2020 Devotional
In a Winter 2020 Devotional, Henry J. Eyring taught that when doubts arise, we should look to three of the biggest declarations of the Church to strengthen our faith:
— During His mortal ministry, the Savior miraculously suffered for the sins and sorrows of all people.
— Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and the Savior, along with other heavenly messengers, who instructed him in establishing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
— Thanks to priesthood power, each of us can qualify daily for repentance and peace of mind.
To illustrate the latter two, he invoked the example of his grandfather, Henry Eyring.
Henry Eyring, a scientist, understood that some spiritual things may not be comprehended until after this life. As much as he was a student of science, he was a student of the scriptures. He exemplified great faith in the restoration of the gospel which helped him overcome doubts.
On his deathbed, his son, President Henry B. Eyring, asked him if he felt he should take time to repent of unresolved sins before passing. He smiled and told his son, “Oh no, Hal, I’ve been repenting as I went along.”
Disappointment from worldly ambition — through the lens of Henry J. Eyring
Rising Above Opposition – Fall 2019
Early in his career, Henry J. Eyring rocketed to high leadership positions in the management consulting firm he worked for. As additional advancement opportunities dried, he moved to Utah to open a new branch office.
He describes that his arrogance and pride caused him to overestimate himself — he found no success in Utah. His business failure left him with immense personal anguish.
Things changed when his wife recommended that he keep a personal daily journal. Despite his bleak temporal circumstances, he wanted to have positive stories to record in his journal. So, he made intentional efforts to look for the blessings in his life and serve others.
“We breathe best, spiritually, when we are helping someone who is struggling,” Henry J. Eyring said. “By putting a spiritual oxygen mask on another person, we find that we immediately breathe easier, no matter what challenges we face.”
As he embraced daily selfless acts, the Lord helped Henry J. Eyring overcome his despair and get on a good — out of the shadows, with stories of his own.