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Stephen T. Woolley

Education: Powered by the Spirit  (Peaks, Patterns & Potentials)



Brothers and Sisters, I look at you today and my heart is full. It is humbling and sobering as I feel a deep sense of responsibility and stewardship for you. You come with a desire to learn the world’s knowledge in a spiritual setting that you might fulfill Father in Heaven’s plan for you. That is no small task for we who are here to help you accomplish that goal.

Today, I would like to share some thoughts about Peaks – Powers – Patterns and Potentials as a way to gain an education powered by the Spirit.



When the College moved to the Triad Center, we initiated a new tradition. Each fall, as part of New Student Orientation, groups of students create banners reflecting thoughts about themselves, their education, and the College. Then in the cool of the evening, these new students supported by faculty, staff, and the institute travel to the base of Ensign Peak just north of the College. The tradition holds that we hear from a member of the Institute Faculty who provides some history of the peak and the notable occasion when Brigham Young, in the company of eight others including, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, my Great, Great Grandfather Willard Richards climbed to the peak just two days after entering the valley. 

Brigham Young had received a vision in Nauvoo in which Joseph Smith showed him a domed-shaped mountain in the west and an ensign upon its peak. In the dream, Joseph Smith said, “Build under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have peace.” Upon entering the valley of the Great Salt Lake, President Young recognized the distinctive shape of the mountain and though he was still weak from fever, he desired to go there. 

President Young and the others climbed the mountain and from the peak surveyed the valley below, and then these courageous brethren began to layout the future city below them.

From pioneer journals, we read part of the recorded event: 

"`Brigham declared: `We will build a temple down there at the base of this peak, and the stream below will be known as City Creek, because we will build a city right where it runs.’ Gazing at the valley below, Brigham proclaimed: `This is the place where we will plant the soles of our feet. Here in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, we have found the place where Joseph Smith prophesied we would prosper and find peace.'

"`George A. Smith added, `On this peak is a good place to raise an ensign.’ Brigham's reply was, `It would indeed, an ensign to the world. We will call it Ensign Peak.’ Prompted by President Young's words, Heber C. Kimball took off his yellow bandanna, and then said to Willard Richards, `Willard, may I use your walking stick a moment?’ Willard obliged. Heber tied his bandanna to the end of the stick, lifted it to the sky and shouted, `An ensign to all the world!’ All present responded enthusiastically. It was a moment of deep commitment.’"

The waving of that simple yellow bandana on the end of a walking stick - that ensign to the world – began the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic words that God “will lift up an ensign to the nations … and behold, they shall come with speed swiftly” … and he … shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

Upon hearing this story at the base of the mountain, students then take their banners - their ensigns – and climb to the peak. There each has the opportunity to contemplate the men who stood there before. And rather than looking out over a barren landscape, each student has the opportunity to look over the vista and horizon of their own potential. In that moment, we all reflect on the link between past, present and the future as we look over the valley and try to imagine what that little band of men saw. 

Could these courageous men with such a bold vision of the future have seen us? Surely, they gazed upon this very site where we now stand. Could they have foreseen the College here? Could they have seen, you coming from all 50 states and 60 foreign countries, in partial fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy? Have you considered that by being here you are part of that prophetic gathering?

When that first little band of brethren finished the ceremonial waving of the ensign with bandana and cane, they came down and went to work to fulfill the vision they had in their minds and hearts. Surely, we are beneficiaries of their sacrifice, vision, and labor. Their dreams were as grand as their characters; their commitments as great as their courage; their destiny as sure as their dedication. This is the heritage you can claim no matter where you are from or your family’s history in the Church. I invite you to look forward building your own future with such character, commitment, courage, and dedication.

Others built to fulfill the vision those men had on Ensign Peak that day. Seven years before the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated and thirty-nine years after entering the valley, LDS Business College was conceived, opened as the Salt Lake Academy, and the first class of 84 students entered. Now 123 years later here you are, under the “point where the colors fall” from Ensign Peak and within the shadow of the completed and historic temple. A gathering of 1600 from across this nation and around the world.

The spirit of a grand and exciting future that filled the hearts and minds of those who stood on Ensign Peak that summer day in 1847 and the anticipation of success that greeted those first 84 students entering the College in November of 1886 still fills the halls and hearts of those who come seeking partial fulfillment of God’s plan for them.


The Power of Mountains, Temples, and the College

From your study of the scriptures, you know that during times when temples were not on the earth, the Lord often directed his prophets to go into the mountains to receive instruction, guidance, and counsel. In the early days of the valley’s settlement, before the Endowment House was completed, there is evidence that some temple ordinances were performed on Ensign Peak.

So what of the connection between mountains, temples, and this College? Like a temple, a living prophet has dedicated these walls and the purposes within them. Like a temple and mountain, those who come here seek a vision of their own eternal potential. Like a temple and mountain, we worship here and seek to create an environment worthy of the presence of deity. Like a temple and mountain, we come here seeking instruction as to how we can achieve the goals God has set for us.

Like a temple, the College is a place where the spirit of the Lord lingers if hearts and minds unite in the pursuit of learning by study and by faith as we exercise obedience and diligence. Like a temple, those who enter here have met a standard of worthiness. Like a temple and mountain, the College serves as a beacon of light and hope. Like a temple and mountain, the College rests on a sure foundation to fulfill its intended purposes. Finally, like a temple, the College is “a place of testimony building, a defense and refuge against the storm, a home away from home”.


LDS Business College – A Temple of Learning

And so you have entered a temple, a temple of learning. A place dedicated to provide you with an education rooted in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that:

Offers practical, versatile, and marketable skills

Establishes a firm foundation for life-long learning, and

Prepares disciples to contribute to the building of Zion in your families, professions, communities, and the Church.

I personally invite you to consider seriously the College as a temple of learning and for as long as you attend conduct yourself accordingly. This is a place where we learn, by study and by faith, “things as they really are, as they really were, and as they are to come”. Here we seek to sanctify ourselves that we may be taught from on high and endowed with power to give as the Lord has spoken (D&C 43:16). Those who serve and learn here have the capacity to see the needs of others and know how to help. By our lives and actions, we show true leadership as we do our best to bless and uplift.

As you align your actions and thoughts to the patterns found in this temple of learning, you will find your education has been powered, accelerated, and your capacities magnified by the Spirit. This will lead to an awakening to your awesome potential.


Establish a House of Order – Patterns of Effectiveness

In D&C 88:119, the Lord admonished the Saints to establish a house of order. Typically, we think of the word “order” referencing cleanliness and organization. However, there is added insight when we contemplate “ordering” to include the idea of patterns (D&C 88:127-128). As you visit the temple, whether to perform endowments or baptisms, the order or patterns are as important at the words and the doctrine. 

For a moment, let us explore three keys to this temple of learning we call LDS Business College:

  • The Pattern of Learning in the Lord’s way,
  • The Pattern of Obedience - Living with Personal Honor, and
  • The Pattern for Personal Development


Patterns of Learning in the Lord’s Way

Listen to this statement by then Elder Henry B. Eyring:

“This is a business college like no other. It was preserved to allow the world a place to see students and teachers who have chosen to learn in a way described in vision long ago. It cannot fail to grow ever better as it follows that vision.”


And from Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “We cannot compete with the world on its terms. If we are to fulfill our calling we must teach the Lord’s way” (Ensign, Mar 1997, 7). Again Elder Oaks: “In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something” (Ensign,Nov 2000, 32). An LDS Business College experience combines both objectives - to know and become - and thus positions you to have an inordinate impact on those you serve. How is this achieved?


In 1996, then Elder Henry B. Eyring provided a partial answer:

“Why does the church have an LDS Business College? The only reason I can conceive of, and the Lord may have others, but to me the most obvious is to be an example. The Lord talks about putting a light on a hill to show the world a kind of education that’s so superior that, as Isaiah said, people will come up to the mountain of the Lord’s House and will learn of His ways. …There are wonderful business colleges in the world, and my guess is you ought to be one of those. But that won’t be why people come to see you or why they will want to know about you. It will be because you have combined excellence in study with power in faith. That’s what will happen. He (the Lord) will make you a light, a beacon, and the world will then have the value of knowing what education can be like when it is done the Lord’s way” (emphasis added).


Our first and foremost temporal objective is helping you acquire market-relevant skills, find employment opportunities, and begin earning a living. Second, we recognize that course material is only a tool to assist in your growth as disciples of the Savior and “Latter-day Saints” in every sense of the phrase. Third, we organize courses around meaningful and relevant experiences rich in project or problem-based learning that replicates real-world experiences as closely as possible.

To support this type of learning and teaching, we have adopted a learning model described in revelation long ago to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 50th and 88th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. You see that model on the wall in every classroom. You see it reflected in most course syllabi. Hopefully, you will experience part of it daily. 

Within the model, we heed President Thomas S. Monson’s counsel to teach with fresh content maintaining the right balance between theory and practice.  

Our greatest teaching opportunity however, is to help you develop patterns to:

learn eternal truths about yourself and God’s plan for you, 

attune your spiritual ears toward Heaven, and 

apply principles for successful living. 

 Through learning experiences, in and out of the classroom, you will come to know who you are and strengthen your confidence to become what God has invited you to become.

So to that end, we teach:

Public speaking so testimonies can be borne with confident clarity, gospel lessons taught effectively, and doctrine defended when needed. 

Nutrition so you know how to follow the counsel that our bodies and souls need constant nourishment and that physical well being is often a requirement for service in the Kingdom. And when we protect our health and strength we are promised to “find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19).

Anatomy or physiology so a student’s hands can be the Lord’s in providing relief to those who suffer, or perhaps the instrument by which a miracle is wrought. 

Business skills so you can be effective stewards over temporal resources. 

Therefore, we engage faculty and you in a process that enables you to take greater responsibility for your learning under the guidance of the Spirit. This is at the heart of our Learning Model and leads us to teach having high expectations for your performance coupled with a deep sense of nurturing and care.

The Institute of Religion is a powerful partner in helping you apply the spiritual dimension to secular learning. As you learn eternal truths about yourself and God’s plan for you in Institute, old self-limiting attitudes and mental blocks will give way to elevated hopes and renewed spirits. As you discover how to learn spiritual things, it will improve your ability to learn temporal things. 

Listen to Elder Henry B. Eyring’s (1996) counsel: “…if we can conduct ourselves in such a way that we invite the Spirit of God and we work our hearts out, our students, if they do the same, will learn at rates that the world will just be amazed.” 

To Elder Eyring’s counsel we add the insight of Elder David B. Haight. Speaking of the Spirit’s influence on your learning, he said it is a “…power which enables us to use our gifts and capabilities with greater intelligence and increased effectiveness in order to bring to pass our Heavenly Father’s purpose in our own lives…” 

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “The spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings.”

As we commit, both faculty and students to teach and learn using the pattern of “Prepare”, “Teach One Another”, “Ponder and Prove” we will move toward the fulfillment of President John Taylor’s prophesy,

“You will see the day that Zion will be as far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters. You mark my words, and write them down, and see if they don’t come to pass.” (Emphasis added)


Why the Learning Model

Some may ask, why a learning model? Ponder these questions and their answers. Does Heavenly Father know what you will become in life? I think He does. Does the faculty know? I think they do not. Then does Heavenly Father know the knowledge and skills you must acquire to prepare yourself for your life’s work? I think yes. 

Then does it not follow that for each class the Holy Ghost will assist in the acquisition of the important knowledge and skills consistent with Heaven’s plan for you and the spiritual and temporal gifts given you by a loving Father in Heaven? Most certainly. 

Then is it not the teacher’s role to be, as Elder Bednar encouraged, an “architect of learning experiences” for the acquisition of knowledge and skills and then create opportunities for you to connect with the divine to know how that knowledge should best be understood and applied? Certainly, you would agree.  

Thus, our learning model puts the responsibility on you and faculty to prepare for each class, and then use that preparation to teach one another, providing opportunities to ponder and reflect on what has been learned. And then engage in meaningful assessments so you can demonstrate that skills have been developed to solve new challenges. 

Our learning model works because:

You learn more when you teach

Teaching allows you to act rather than be acted upon, and

Action authorizes the Holy Ghost to enlighten

It is a pattern that will aid your learning for a lifetime. We invite you to use it to bless your lives.

Patterns of Obedience – Living With Personal Honor

The College has recast its approach to the Honor Code. No longer is the approach a “do’s and don’ts” list with accompanying enforcement. That approach is an insult to your intelligence, your upbringing, and the commitment you have made to a “Common Judge in Israel” when you promised to live the standards associated with learning in the Lord’s way. 

Now, the Honor Code is principles based, and ties to the overall aims and outcomes of the College. With this change in emphasis comes a new name: The name “Title of Honor”, and its accompanying concept of “Personal Honor” expresses the overarching goal, which is to invite the Spirit into the lives of students, faculty, and staff to create greater discipleship and more rapid learning. 

Personal honor goes far beyond how we look on the outside. It includes our hearts, intensions, character, and our personal integrity. Elder John A. Widstoe declared, “We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves [to it].” Elder Oaks reminds us that we have been “called to establish the Lord’s standards, not follow the world’s…that reality has current application to every trendy action, including modest dress.” He concluded this thought by quoting Ardeth Green Kapp, “You can’t be a life saver if you look like all the other swimmers on the beach”. 

As we all live with greater Personal Honor we:

create a community of saints,

demonstrate our love for the Savior and each other,

become a light so that others might witness the impact of righteous living,

provide for students, faculty and staff a place of peace, refuge and safety both for the individual and the community, and

preserve the good name of the College and the Church.

The connection between the Title of Honor and the College’s Learning Model is most apparent in the “preparation” phase. As this connection is understood and lived, you will see clearly how living with Personal Honor prepares you to teach one another and be taught by the Spirit. Faculty will then understand how a student who chooses not to live the principles inhibits the presence of the Spirit, and the learning process is slowed for that student and other students in the class. This understanding empowers you students to hold each other accountable for living with Personal Honor. 

We are committed to help you develop patterns of living that allow the Spirit to be your guide and magnify your efforts to learn in the Lord’s way.


Patterns for Personal Development

Let us briefly explore the third key: Patterns for Personal Development.

Our mission includes educating the whole person. Not all learning is done in the classroom neither is all serving. Student life activities and organizations become an extension of the classroom, part of the total educational experience, even a learning lab in which new skills are applied and confidence strengthened. Student activities, clubs, and organizations have goals to provide opportunities for you to:

  • meet others who share similar beliefs and standards,
  • feel the Spirit,
  • have fun through wholesome social activities,
  • strengthen testimonies,
  • give service,
  • develop talents, and
  • apply gospel principles. 

Though we work and learn in a Temple of Learning, it does not mean we need to walk the halls in whispers or be somber. This is a place to be young and full of energy and yet be safe at the same time. It is a place to experiment, try new things, and yet not compromise your faithfulness. It is a place to stretch yourself to discover new talents and capabilities.

Occasionally, you might need extra support as you adjust to college, or deal with the challenges of life. Therefore, the College provides a Learning Assistance Lab, Academic and Career Advising, student mentors, financial aide, and a loving and concerned faculty. If some of these resources are needed, then do not be shy, come and let us listen. We can help you develop patterns of success.

May I suggest a daily pattern that will elevate your vision of life, develop your spiritual and temporal powers to serve, and move you toward achieving your potential? A simple pattern that calls for you to have a daily experience with:

  • Prayer
  • Scriptures
  • Service, and
  • Hearing and heeding the still small voice


To What End?

Now let us conclude and summarize. We have spoken of Peaks, Power, Patterns, and your Potential. We have discussed the College as a Temple of Learning and the patterns of learning we employ. We have tied the Title of Honor and living with Personal Honor to the Learning Model as an action that prepares you to learn by the Spirit. We have reviewed College resources designed to help you succeed. And I have shared one simple pattern for elevating your life and developing spiritual power.

It is my testimony that when combined all these will produce an education powered by the Spirit.

Now may I do something we have seen Elder Richard G. Scott do? May I speak to each one of you as if it were just the two of us? I pray “the spirit arc between us so there is a rapid and shared understanding” as I express my heart to you. 

May I share my personal desires and hopes for you while you and I are together at the College? I desire and hope that you live a life that allows the Lord to endow you with power to give as He has spoken (D&C 43:16).

I desire and hope that you will find spiritual and intellectual balance. 

I desire and hope that you will prepare with effort to contribute to family, professions, community, and the Church. All three need you – your “time, talent, and [eventual] treasure”. 

It is perhaps my greatest desire that you develop Christ-like attributes that will refine and edify the rest of your life.

Moreover, when your time with us is over and I shake your hand as you receive your diploma, I pray will all my heart that you have:

  • discovered who you really are and what you can do,
  • identified and explored areas of interest and are prepared for meaningful work,
  • strengthened your relationship with Heaven and deepened your convictions,
  • elevated your desire to improve your discipleship,
  • “develop[ed] a mighty heart and a strong mind to become both faithful and competent in preparation for that day when you can offer your whole souls unto him.”

The choice is yours my young friend. You can gain an education powered by the spirit through patterns of learning, living, and taking advantage of the opportunities and resources offered here. Or you can treat this experience as an extension of high school or some other college.

Be comforted in your heart to know that any honest effort to apply these patterns will yield the blessing of the Spirit. Know that you are no more a stranger or a foreigner but a fellow citizen in a temple of learning.

May you recognize the opportunities provided by a loving Father in Heaven and be ever ready for the blessings he may wish to pour out upon you, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Ballard, M. Russell, “Faith in Every Footstep, Ensign, (CR), Nov. 1996, p. 23
Lloyd, Scott, “Park at Ensign Peak Dedicated”, Church News, Aug. 3, 1996, Retrieved from, Sept. 6, 2009
Isaiah 5:26
Isaiah 11:12
LDS Business College, “Vision and Strategy for the Future”,  Aug. 2009, Section 1-2
D&C 93:24
Op. cit.
Eyring, Henry B., LDS Business College Inaugural  Address, 1992
BYU Idaho Website,
Haight, David B., Ensign, May 1992
McConkie, Bruce R., Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols. [1954-56], 1:47-48
Taylor, John in JD21:100
D&C 88:77-80, 118, 122-126
2 Nephi 2:14, 16, 26; James 1:22
D&C 30:3; 88:62
Widtsoe, John A., in Conference Report, Apr. 1940, 36
Oaks, Dallin H., Unselfish Service, retrieved from,5232,49-1-1032-29,00.html#6, Sept. 6, 2009
Kapp, Ardeth Green, I Walk by Faith (1987), 97
Title of Honor, LDS Business College ,  Goals of Mutual Activities
Maxwell, Neal A., Free to Choose?, Sept. 6, 2009.  Also, see D&C 50:10.
Maxwell, Neal A., “‘Willing to Submit’,” Ensign, May 1985, 70
Bednar, David A., at LDS Business College Devotional, Nov 10, 1998
Ephesians 2:19


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