Tracy Flinders, vice president of information technology and chief information officer at BYU, delivered Tuesday’s devotional address. He spoke on the importance of higher education and discovering our true identities.
Flinders spent much of his address directly quoting the words of the Savior, who Flinders said is “the source of higher education,” and that it's powerful to study Christ’s direct words and then apply them in our lives
Comparing BYU’s education to that of other prestigious universities, Flinders explained that BYU’s objective is not simply to expand its students’ secular knowledge, but rather to pursue the higher form of learning taught by the Savior, done by study and also by faith.
“If getting a ‘higher education’ only means gaining secular knowledge… then we’re aiming too low. The BYU experience aims to develop ‘faith,’ ‘intellect’ and Christlike ‘Character’ in a quest that will ultimately – in the far distant future – lead to perfection.”
Flinders discussed four invitations that were extended by the Savior that provide the pattern for “higher education” and will allow the Lord to help us become like our Heavenly Father.
1. Come unto Christ
“No matter where we are or what we may have done; no matter what question we may have or pain we may be feeling, if we want the help of heaven, our first step forward is to come unto Christ.”
2. Take Christ’s yoke upon us and learn of Him
Flinders taught that we must involve Christ in our daily lives, and seek His words. While acknowledging that developing faith, a large factor in gaining a “higher education,” is not always an easy task, he urged the audience to be patient with themselves and with the Lord’s timing for their lives. He said that there will come moments when we are faced with faith crises, but we must never abandon God.
“I’m not convinced that, with His eternal perspective, God sees our ‘crises’ in the same way we do. He knows how real and difficult they are, but He can also see us emerging from the other side.”
3. Follow Christ
“To all the disciples who strive to follow the Savior, He invites us to do what may be the most difficult thing of all. He asks us to surrender our will and to voluntarily choose Him.”
4. Teach others of Christ and His truth
Flinders said that after we have been taught in Christ’s way, we must teach those around us through our words and deeds. At BYU, we have a responsibility to strengthen each other in our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Flinders invited us to self-reflect on whether we are building our fellow peers' faith, or unintentionally weakening testimonies by over-fixating on issues that distract from the simple gospel truths.
“Could it be that we’ve set our hearts so firmly on worldly ‘treasures’ like secular, social, or political ideologies, on either extreme, that we ‘draw near’ to Christ with our lips, but do not fully give Him our hearts?”
According to Flinders, the most important truth we will discover as we seek this “higher education” is our true identities, as children of Heavenly Parents who love us. Flinders expressed his belief that our identity as “children of God” and “disciples” far exceeds any other characteristic with which we could be identified.
“As children of God, we are literally one spiritual generation away from Heavenly Parents and we possess Their spiritual DNA. This is our first, most fundamental, and eternal identity. It is the identity God has given us – not one of our own making – and it is who we really are and who we’ll always be.”