An Education of the Heart
Commencement Address Given at
Brigham Young University–Hawaii
June 6, 2009
Steven C. Wheelwright
President of BYU–Hawaii
At this time, I’d like to take a few moments to comment on one of the things we hope each of you graduates will take with you as you leave this beautiful campus. Speaking of the need we each have to obtain an education, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“Each day we are made increasingly aware of the fact that life is more than science and mathematics, more than history and literature. There is a need for another education, without which the substance of our secular learning may lead only to our destruction.”
He went on to say:
“I refer to the education of the heart, of the conscience, of the character, of the spirit— these indefinable aspects of our personalities which determine so certainly what we are and what we do in our relationships one with another.”
As faculty and staff here at BYU–Hawaii, we hope that each of you has established a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning. Indeed, a key part of the mission of this great university is to integrate spiritual learning with an academic foundation that will support this lifetime endeavor. Thus, in addition to your learning in mathematics and the sciences, in history and the arts, as well as in the many other subjects taught in the classrooms on this campus, we hope that each of you graduates has also received an education of the heart, of the conscience, of the character, and of the spirit.
Today I’d like to take a few moments to consider what an “education of the heart” might entail, why it is so important, and how it can be invaluable to you as you go forward in your life.
In the scriptures we learn that there is no battlefield more important to Satan than is that of the “heart of man.” Prophets have counseled us repeatedly to guard carefully what we allow to enter our hearts, and they have warned us that Satan desires to “harden” and “blind” our hearts to the things of God and His Spirit. Furthermore, when we are righteous and obedient, the scriptures tell us that Satan can have no power over our hearts and that the Lord will teach us and direct us through the Holy Ghost that will reside in our hearts and speak truth to our hearts.
In a very real sense, the “education of the heart” talked about by modern-day prophets is what we prepare our hearts to receive, embrace, and desire. And when those things are the things of God and His kingdom, He will bless and guide us wherever our paths may lead. Our hope is that during your time on this campus, you have filled your hearts with faith in Christ and His plan, gratitude for His Atonement, and a steadfast desire to follow Him in all you do. Indeed, our greatest desire for you is that you have expanded your capacity to obey His commandments and have committed to serve Him with all of your heart. I believe that this is the essence of an education of the heart.
The reason this part of your education is so important is that it will shape and determine the development of your character and your eternal destiny. This education will determine what you value and love—whether it be the things of this world or the things of God. It will determine how you spend your time and the nature of the relationships you will have with others. And as the scriptures confirm, it will determine your ability to love God, to love your fellowmen, and to love your spouse and your own family. This education of the heart will determine the type of love that will fill your heart and your life.
As you receive your degree today and go forward in your life, our hope and prayer is that the foundation you have laid in the education of your heart here on this campus will enable you to tackle the challenges you will face and that through the Savior’s love and grace that you will continue to fill your hearts with righteous desires. I testify that you are the sons and daughters of a loving Eternal Father, a royal generation, and that when you have His Spirit in your hearts, He will be with you on your right hand and on your left, and His angels will bear you up in all that you do. May such be the continued expansion of the education of your heart is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.