“Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action. Goal setting and planning are acts of faith”.1
One question remains the basis of my ongoing goals and aspirations, what manner of man ought I to be?
In the New Zealand Auckland Mission ‘NZAM’ (2011-2014), my wife, Becky and I would join the full-time missionaries in a recitation we called, Remember! In the middle of the recitation was this scripture:
“Therefore, what manner of men (or woman) ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27).
Reflecting upon this verse year after year, raises two questions in my mind:
I believe it has a great deal to do with how He feels about us. He loves us very much and wants us to experience joy. Joy with our families, in our life’s pursuits, as we serve in the Kingdom and as we come to know Him. The closer we align our lives with His, the more likely we are to experience the joy Lehi described as he partook of the ‘fruit’ (otherwise known as the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ). Lehi said that as he “partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy”.2 Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full”.3
King Benjamin helps to answer this question by asking another question: “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?”4
One way we can become like Jesus Christ is to do and say the things He would do and say.“Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do”.5
To become like Jesus Christ, He invites us to ‘Come Unto Him’ and do as He did. What did He do?
Love and Charity—John reminds us that “greater love hath no man” than what Jesus Christ did for us in laying down His life that we might live again. His great example shines bright for us today as He invites us to reach out to family and friends the way He taught us. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”.6
Patience—Jesus taught us about patience by the way He lived His life. He was mocked, spat upon, betrayed and crucified, ‘no murmuring words escaped His tongue’ only ‘not as I will, but as thou wilt’. “Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required”.7
Humility—By example, from birth (condescending below all things) to death (his cruel crucifixion at Calvary among two thieves) Jesus taught humility. We would do well to remember “and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily”.8
Diligence—“Diligence is steady, consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord’s work. The Lord expects you [and me] to work diligently—persistently and with great effort and care”.9
“Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence”.10
Obedience—“The discipline contained in daily obedience and clean living and wholesome lives builds an armor around you of protection and safety from the temptations that beset you as you proceed through mortality”.11
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise”.12
We used a simple formula with the missionaries in the NZAM that I believe continues to apply in my life today.
Work Hard + Obedience = Happiness (see Mosiah 2:41)
My hope and prayer for each of us as we begin the year 2021, is that we experience (or continue to experience) the mighty change of heart necessary to want to become more like Jesus Christ. Remember this is a lifelong quest—it’s a marathon not a sprint. The promised blessing is that we too can experience the joy Lehi describes as he came to understand the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, including His infinite Atonement.
As we fully accept Jesus Christ and His teachings, we come unto Christ, and are perfected in him. We are then told if we deny ourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all our might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for each of us, and “by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God”.13
I know that Jesus Christ is the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. He died for us, He lives for us and He loves us. I know He will continue to guide our footsteps so we may find joy in this life and in the life to come. May we focus our efforts and goals in 2021 on becoming more and more like our Saviour, Jesus Christ, is my prayer.