Pursuing Worthy Goals

 

Wheelwright CommencementCommencement Address given at 
Brigham Young University-Hawaii

December 17, 2010 
Steven C. Wheelwright
President, BYU-Hawaii

 

At this very special time in your lives, Sister Wheelwright and I extend to you our congratulations and our love. Today marks the achievement of a very significant and noteworthy goal - one for which we know your parents, family, friends, and your Heavenly Father have great admiration. For most of you, gaining the education and foundation for life and eternity represented by this day of commencement has not been easy. We commend you on the hard work and diligence that have marked the path that brought you to this wonderful and well-deserved degree.

BYU-Hawaii was founded by the Lord's prophets with a clear and lofty mission.  It was and is to provide those who come to this campus with three things:

First, a foundation for a lifetime of learning - of things both secular and spiritual. As summarized by the prophet Spencer W. Kimball, it is intended to be an "education for eternity."

Second, the character and integrity required to provide leadership in a world of eroding moral values - the men and women who cannot be bought or sold, as foreseen by President [David O.] McKay.

And third, the willingness and desire to serve in building the kingdom of God.

We see in each of you the realization of that mission. Your lives here on campus have been marked by wonderful academic achievements in the classroom and the lab, and in field work and on stage. They have also been marked by great spiritual learning through religion classes, devotionals, participation in the many campus wards and stakes, and through temple activity. 

We hope that one of your goals going forward will be to pursue a lifetime of learning - not only of learning the things required for a successful career, but of learning all that will be needed to be a loving husband or wife and a parent of a righteous posterity. Your achievements as a "lifetime learner" will be seen in who you become, and how you influence those closest to you - in your family, your community, your profession, and in the kingdom.

President Kimball provided a wonderful insight in discussing how we become a "lifetime learner" when he noted:

"The Church is the greatest institution of learning in the world. The Church is designed to enlarge and develop the powers of our spirits, to educate us for eternity and to help us live intelligently and joyfully in mortality. The gospel and its teachings lead us to Christlike living, which in turn leads us not only toward exaltation but toward knowledge." [Spencer W. Kimball, "Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith," pp.5.]

Keeping the Church a central feature of your life will help you be a better lifetime learner. I would encourage you to commit today to always stay active in the Church and have a current temple recommend.

In addition to being lifelong learners, we also see in each of you the character and integrity needed to become the leaders the world is hungering for - the genuine gold that President McKay envisioned in the graduates of BYU-Hawaii. Indeed your leadership across the campus in student government, in living the standards of the honor code, in your wards, in your work, and in all you have done has typified the character and integrity so essential to Christlike leadership and yet in such short supply in the world around us.

We hope that the goals you pursue going forward will include "leading with integrity." That leadership will go hand-in-hand with your continuing efforts as a "lifetime learner," not only in your professional life, but in your marriage and family, in your community, and in your leadership in the kingdom. Indeed, the same characteristics of honesty and integrity so essential to becoming a true leader in your profession and your community will enable you to be a strong leader of a righteous family and to serve faithfully in the Church. As you move forward, I would counsel each of you to give special attention to not just preserving, but strengthening your integrity and character.

Finally, we see already in each of you the capability and desire to be a builder in the Lord's kingdom. Many of you have been directly involved in building various aspects of our student organizations, helping to build the kingdom by sharing the gospel and strengthening others, assisting in building with the local community a long term future for Laie and the Ko'olau Loa region, and in fostering peace among those around you. As wonderful as these contributions and successes as "builders" have been thus far, it is just the beginning of a lifetime of service and building.

That goal of being a builder should encompass not only your work life, but your home and community life, your Church service, and all you do. You are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, with knowledge of His plan and of the atonement of His Son. Each of you has been richly blessed by being on this campus. And as faculty and staff, we too have been richly blessed by your faith and good works during your time here. It is our hope that each of you will pursue a goal of continuing to do all you can to build the kingdom.

As every parent knows, the true measure of their success with their children will not be apparent until those children have their own families. Only then will their success at teaching each son or daughter to be lifetime learners, leaders with integrity, and builders of the kingdom become evident. I have also found this to be true as a mission president with our 500 missionaries. So it is here at BYU-Hawaii. Your continued success at being learners, leaders, and builders will be the true measure of how well we are accomplishing our mission. May we each be anxiously engaged in pursuing these righteous goals is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.