A Foundation for a Lifetime of Learning
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
December 13, 2014
Steven C. Wheelwright
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 academic achievement.
During your time here at BYU–Hawaii, each time you have come on campus, you have seen the university’s motto: Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve. In addition, simply by being a part of the campus, you have been reminded frequently of the first part of the school’s prophetic mission – to integrate spiritual learning and secular learning so that you will leave here with a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning.
We see in each of you graduating today the initial realization of this part of the university’s mission. Your lives here on campus have been marked by wonderful academic achievements in the classroom and the lab, 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. In addition, we hope that each of you has adopted and internalized the Lord’s pattern for our learning, “line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,” and its companion pattern of “hearken[ing] unto [His] precepts, and lend[ing] an ear unto [His] counsel, [in order to] learn wisdom” (2 Nephi 28:30).
We hope that one of your goals going forward will be to pursue a lifetime of learning while adhering to the Lord’s patterns for such learning. Indeed, we know from the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith “that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938. p. 51).
These patterns and the truths they represent will not only assist you in learning the things required for a successful career but in learning all that will be needed to be a loving husband or wife, a parent of a righteous posterity, and a faithful follower of the Savior.
Your achievements as a lifetime learner will be seen in who you become and how consistently you “hearken” and “lend an ear” to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and are thereby blessed to be “given more.”
President Kimball provided a wonderful insight in discussing how we become a “lifetime learner” when he noted, “Secular knowledge can be most helpful to the children of our Father in Heaven who, having placed first things first, have found and are living the truths which lead one to eternal life. These are they who have the balance and perspective to seek all knowledge – revealed and secular – as a tool and servant for the blessing of themselves and others.”
He went on to say, “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.” Ensign, September 1983. p. 5).
Keeping the Church a central feature of your life will help you be a better lifetime learner. I would invite you to commit today to always stay active in the Church and to always have a current temple recommend.
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. So it is here at BYU–Hawaii. Your continued success at being lifetime learners who continue to integrate both spiritual learning and secular learning – by serving in your families, the temple, and in your community – will be the true measure of how well we are accomplishing that central part of our mission. May we each be anxiously engaged in pursuing these righteous patterns of learning and establishing a firm foundation for a lifetime of learning is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.