Honesty and Integrity
Commencement Address given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
December 18, 2009
Steven C. Wheelwright
President of BYU-Hawaii
At this long awaited and very special time in your lives, Sister Wheelwright and I extend to you our congratulations and our love.
Because we live in the dispensation of the fulness of times, you will have many wonderful and many very challenging experiences. With that future in mind, we have sought to prepare you to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and a leader in your home, your community, your profession, and in building the kingdom of God. Being a disciple and being a leader is all about exercising your agency to act according to the principles of the gospel.
I would like to talk briefly about two of those principles that will help you realize the great promises a loving Father in Heaven has in store for you. These are principles that I hope you have developed and deepened your commitment to during your time here on this very special campus.
The first principle is that of honesty.
The Latin root of the word "honest" is "honestus," which is also the root for the words "honor" and "honorable." Honesty is the quality or condition of being truthful, sincere, candid, and worthy of honor.
Some may regard the principle or quality of honesty to be a very ordinary subject. But in the Lord's kingdom, we believe in being honest! Elder Mark E. Peterson, one of the great Apostles of this dispensation, explained,
"Honesty is a principle of salvation in the kingdom of God. . . . Just as no man or woman can be saved without baptism, so no one can be saved without complete honesty" ("Honesty, a Principle of Salvation," Ensign, Dec. 1971, 73).
And President Hinckley taught: "I believe [honesty] to be the very essence of the gospel. Without honesty, our lives and the fabric of our society will disintegrate into ugliness and chaos" ("We Believe in Being Honest," Ensign, Oct. 1990).
All around us we see the evidence of President Hinckley's prophetic statement regarding the consequences of dishonesty. We see those consequences in the lives of men and women once held up as role models and in the lives of their families. And we see it in our communities and society in general. Elder Bednar has observed that we are surrounded by "an epidemic of dishonesty and ethical failures."
The second principle I would like you to remember and take with you is closely linked to that of being honest. It is the principle of integrity.
The Latin root of the word "integrity" is "integer." Other words that share that same root include "entire" and "integrate." Integrity is the quality or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, and undivided. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin has explained:
"Integrity means always doing what is right and good, regardless of the immediate consequences. It means being righteous from the very depth of our soul, not only in our actions but even more importantly, in our thoughts and in our hearts. Personal integrity implies such trustworthiness and incorruptibility that we are incapable of being false to a trust or covenant" ( "Personal Integrity," Ensign, May 1990, 30).
No wonder such qualities as honesty and integrity are fundamental to our salvation and to receiving the blessings of the Lord! From the teachings of Elder Bruce R. McConkie we learn:
"Ethical principles are born of doctrinal concepts. To say 'We believe in being honest' is to testify that because we believe in Christ and his saving truths, we automatically accept honesty as a divine standard to which every true believer must conform. And so it is with all true principles; they inhere in, are part of, and grow out of the saving truths. . . . It is only when [our behaviors] are tied to gospel doctrines that they rest on a sure and enduring foundation and gain full operation in [our lives]" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith  699-700).
During your time here on this beautiful campus, we hope that each of you has developed a deep and abiding commitment to the principles of honesty and integrity. Your lives, and the degree to which they are consistent examples of honesty and integrity, will not only determine your happiness and success in all of your endeavors, but will be a great blessing to all of those with whom you come in contact. Indeed they will testify to the world that you are the "genuine gold" that President McKay prophesied would come from this school.
Honesty and integrity are indeed a central part of the "education for eternity" so often referred to by President Kimball on this campus and at other Church universities. Today you become part of a worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood of alumni of this great university. I testify that as you continue to put the Savior and His teachings at the center of your life and all you do, He will bestow great blessings, blessings beyond measure, on you and your posterity.
Please know that we love you and look forward to hearing of your wonderful accomplishments and successes over the coming decades. May this Christmas season and the coming months and years be filled with the blessings of peace and joy promised by a loving Father through the gift of His Only Begotten Son, is our prayer for each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.