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Moving Forward with Faith: The Pioneer's Heart

Four characteristics to help you be successful in life and school


In President Clark G. Gilbert’s September 2019 devotional address , he reminded BYU-Pathway Worldwide students how important it is to develop the Pioneer’s Heart in their lives and education.

The Pioneer’s Heart consists of four characteristics: a spirit of humility and frugality, a faith and optimism for the unknown, a longing for prophetic direction, and a spirit of personal sacrifice.

The early pioneers showed these characteristics as they followed the Lord’s commandments to build His restored Church and make the difficult journey across the plains. BYU-Pathway students, missionaries, and employees also embody these characteristics as they work together to pioneer a new approach to higher education.

The following two stories illustrate people who exemplified the Pioneer’s Heart in their lives.

Faith in every footstep

Cyrus Wheelock was one of the early members of the Church. He was a convert, and he humbly showed faith and optimism for the unknown whenever the Lord called on him.

pioneers crossing the river
Early pioneers like Cyrus demonstrated great faith and personal sacrifice.
One of Cyrus’s first assignments was a mission call to England. Going meant leaving his home and family, but he willingly accepted the call. In fact, he ended up serving three separate missions for a total of eight years of full-time missionary service. 1
Wheelock, Cyrus H.,” The Joseph Smith Papers
Cyrus’s selfless service reflects his inspiring spirit of personal sacrifice and conversion to the Lord.
When he returned from his third mission in 1856, he was asked to cross the plains and join the Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. Again, Cyrus accepted faithfully. The trek was guaranteed to be long and difficult, but he chose to rely on the Lord. He wrote in his journal, “Heaven only knows how long or what is to be our future lot, but we feel to put our trust in [God] who has ever been our faithful and undeviating friend.” 2
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Selected Handcart Stories for Youth Treks,” 24

The day after Cyrus’s group arrived in Salt Lake City, President Brigham Young called for volunteers to form rescue parties that would aid late handcart companies still on the trail. Cyrus immediately volunteered, showing his desire to receive and follow prophetic direction. He had finally found a home in Salt Lake City, but he left just days after arriving to help his fellow Saints.

Prompted to improve

Raul and his family at the Mexico City Mexico Temple
Raul and his family at the Mexico City Mexico Temple

We may not be asked to cross the plains or serve three missions like Cyrus, but we act as pioneers in other ways. In his devotional, President Gilbert shared the story of Raul Hidalgo , a BYU-Pathway student from Mexico who also demonstrated the Pioneer’s Heart.

“At first, Raul wasn’t sure where PathwayConnect would lead, but he followed the promptings he received and moved forward in faith,” President Gilbert emphasized.

Raul also showed a spirit of humility through his willingness to learn in another language. He traveled four hours each week to attend his gathering — no small sacrifice.

Despite the challenges, he persevered. Raul said, “I know that the Lord has given me the resources to support my family and to pay my tuition as I have continued my education.”

After PathwayConnect, Raul earned two certificates and a bachelor’s degree in business management. He was blessed with promotions at work and eventually went to law school to become a judge.

Modern-day pioneers

“As a BYU-Pathway student, you too are just like those early pioneers,” President Gilbert said. “Raul’s story is like so many other pioneering BYU-Pathway students who act in faith and optimism even in the face of sacrifice and struggles.” You are paving the way and setting an example to those around you. You have already exercised faith in the Lord by responding to the counsel of His prophets and apostles to seek higher education.

man reading the book of mormon
Developing the Pioneer’s Heart will help us persevere when we face challenges.

However, just like Cyrus, Raul, and other early pioneers, you will also face challenges on your journey. There may be times when you feel scared, inadequate, or doubt the path you’re on. You may wonder why the Lord has prompted you to pursue education through BYU-Pathway Worldwide or why He hasn’t made it easier if it’s something He wants for you. There will certainly be moments when you wonder if you can keep going or if it would be easier to just quit.

To any feeling this way, President Gilbert said, “We continue to see the Lord’s hand in this effort. You too will need to draw on the characteristics of the Pioneer’s Heart as you complete your educational journey. I promise the Lord will guide you to the valleys He has prepared for you.”

Developing a spirit of humility and frugality, faith and optimism for the unknown, longing for prophetic direction, and a spirit of personal sacrifice will help you not only succeed, but find joy in your educational journey.

How have you been a pioneer of education in your family?