College is one of life’s great balancing acts. When you get to college, you have to learn to balance school, sleep, friends, work, church, and countless other responsibilities. I am a freshman at BYU this semester, so I am still trying to find a good balance. As I have attended school here, I found have found myself in awe of the student athletes that are able to balance everything that I have to, as well as practice and games and travelling and everything else that comes with being a member of a team. To learn more about the lives of BYU student athletes, I interviewed Luke Worthington.
Luke is a member of the BYU Basketball team. He is a 6’10’’ junior who first joined the team during the 2013-2014 season before serving a two-year church mission in Chile. He was raised in Wisconsin and is majoring in Human Development with a minor in business.
When I met with Luke, I first asked him the question that I am sure many students wonder about student athletes: how did he manage to balance school, basketball, church and having a social life? Luke admitted that he did not have a perfect formula for time management and there is always room for improvement, but emphasized priorities. He said, “I try and start my day with prayer and scriptures and then as the day kinda goes on that’s always present on my mind, the spiritual side of things.” One thing that stuck out to me is that when he prioritizes the spiritual things in his life, he doesn’t just put them first in his mind, he puts them first in his day.
Later in our conversation, he expressed that he learned about priorities from his biggest role model, his father. Speaking of his father, Luke told me, “That’s a man who has always had very straight what his first two priorities in life are, and that’s the gospel and our family. And I’ve always felt that if I can do the same… there’s gonna be different times in my life where there’s different responsibilities but the gospel and my family should always be at the top of that list. And as long as I can keep that there I know that ultimately, I’m going to be happy wherever this mortal journey takes me. That’s what’s most important.”
Those priorities were evident in his decision to serve a full-time mission in the middle of his basketball career. He told me that the decision had to come from within himself, and not from any outside sources. He said he started to really consider missionary service during his sophomore year of college. “In my sophomore year I started to feel like my life was too much about me and that I wasn’t really giving anything back. And I was really enjoying everything that basketball and school and everything had to offer. It was fun, but I needed to get outside myself and when I, right in the midst of looking at that and thinking about that, I got a call from my dad and across several conversations with my parents kinda came to my own conclusion that it’s what I wanted to do and what I needed to do and so that’s when I officially decided I was going to serve a mission was after I had spoke to them.” Luke realized what so many youths are struggling to realize nowadays, especially with the missionary age change. The decision to serve and when to serve is a big one that should come from within.
His commitment to those priorities were evident and consistent throughout our talk. While we were talking about college and basketball, I asked him what his biggest accomplishment was so far. With most student athletes, you would expect the answers to follow the lines of their favorite win or their favorite scoring play. Luke’s answer was much more thoughtful and genuine. After a moment of reflective thought, he confidently shared that his biggest accomplishment was becoming fully converted to gospel of Jesus Christ. He explained that even though he was never fighting his personal conversion and he always believed, it did not happen all at once. He said that that kind of full conversion “was a process for me, fortunately and unfortunately, it wasn’t something that just came to me I had to work at it.” Luke then went on to say that “coming to know my Savior and understanding the power of prayer and how important the scriptures are in my life and all those sorts of things those had to come piece by piece.”
With a testimony as strong as his, I was curious to know how basketball had strengthened his testimony of the gospel. He explained to me that, to him, the most important things as far as basketball is concerned are the people he has interacted with and the relationships he has formed with them. He then quoted Maya Angelou when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” He continued, “I think that’s so true and I think about certain people that I’ve been around, players and coaches and students, and all these people that I’ve interacted with… and I don’t. I don’t forget the way that I felt at those times in my life and that’s just something that’s so valuable to me and I think that has strengthened my testimony knowing that basketball is just a group of people… they want to have fun and they want to be happy and that’s ultimately what this life’s about.”
His personal emphasis on his relationship with others was brought up again in my last question when I asked what his favorite scripture was. He quickly pulled up Moroni 7:48 and read his favorite parts, saying, “‘Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.’ I like later when it says that ‘when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure’.” He said that one reason this scripture was so important to him was because he had applied it in his life and his life had changed because of it. He emphasized two reasons he loved this verse in particular. He said he knew that if he followed the counsel in the verse, he knew that he would be able to recognize the Savior the minute he sees Him because he already feels the Savior’s love when he talks to people throughout his day. He said, “when I talk to different individuals, if I’m really applying the scripture in my life and praying to be able to see them how my Heavenly Father sees them, I’ll feel something for that person initially and I think it’s been something that’s changed my perspective in life.” Again, his favorite scripture showed that his biggest priority in his daily life is the spiritual side of things.
Now, what can we all learn from Luke Worthington? First of all, find a balance in college is possible. You can totally do it if you have your priorities straight. I have often heard that if you put God first, He will make sure everything else works out and Luke is a big example of that. We can also learn that testimonies and personal conversions do not happen all at once, but “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little (2 Nephi 28:30).” Finally, we learn that life is all about the relationships we build and the way we make people feel. I am grateful for Luke’s example to all of us and hope that we can each learn a little about life from what he had to say.