Sunday, January 21, 2018

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on developing Christlike attributes

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (born November 6, 1940) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 to January 2018.
"Recall with me how Jesus Christ instructed His Apostles, clearly and directly, at the beginning of His mortal ministry, '[Come,] follow me, and I will make you fishers of men' (Matt. 4:19).... May I suggest that the Savior Himself teaches us here a lesson about core doctrine and priorities in life. Individually, we need to first 'follow Him,' and as we do this, the Savior will bless us beyond our own capacity to become what He wants us to be.
"To follow Christ is to become more like Him. It is to learn from His character. As spirit children of our Heavenly Father, we do have the potential to incorporate Christlike attributes into our life and character. The Savior invites us to learn His gospel by living His teachings. To follow Him is to apply correct principles and then witness for ourselves the blessings that follow. This process is very complex and very simple at the same time. Ancient and modern prophets described it with three words: 'Keep the commandments'—nothing more, nothing less.
"Developing Christlike attributes in our lives is not an easy task, especially when we move away from generalities and abstractions and begin to deal with real life. The test comes in practicing what we proclaim. The reality check comes when Christlike attributes need to become visible in our lives—as husband or wife, as father or mother, as son or daughter, in our friendships, in our employment, in our business, and in our recreation. We can recognize our growth, as can those around us, as we gradually increase our capacity to 'act in all holiness before [Him]' (D&C 43:9)."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Christlike Attributes—the Wind beneath Our Wings," General Conference, October 2005
Click here to read or listen to the full article

What does it mean to follow the Savior? The initial call to His disciples to follow, as recorded in the New Testament, invited them to leave behind their ways of life and join him in His ministry. Today, we don't literally, physically walk where He walked or walks; but we can follow in a more symbolic or representative way aw we follow His examples or teachings, and strive to emulate His character. And then the promise that Elder Uchtdorf emphasis is that we will be blessed beyond our own ability "to become what He wants us to be."

So the great invitation is "to incorporate Christlike attributes into our life and character." As we study His life and identify the qualities He expressed in daily interactions, we will discover those attributes and learn of the challenge and opportunity to become more like Him:

It's one thing to learn of those attributes, and quite another to put them into practice. This is what Elder Uchtdorf calls the "reality check" as we realize those "Christlike attributes need to become visible in our lives," in our interactions with those around us, especially those closest to us. But it's a process, a life's work to gradually become better disciples. The key is to make continual progress; to repent when we fall short; and to know that we truly are promised His help in the process.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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