Lesson 9: Developing Christlike Attributes
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“Lesson 9: Developing Christlike Attributes,” Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 9,” Missionary Preparation


Developing Christlike Attributes


Missionaries should strive to become more like the Savior as they labor to invite others to come unto Him. The Savior is our perfect example and instructed us to become as He is (see 3 Nephi 27:27), and His Atonement enables us to become more like Him and our Heavenly Father. An important part of becoming like Jesus Christ is to learn about how He lived, behaved, and taught. As we personally develop Christlike attributes more fully, we will be better prepared to serve God and others during our missions and throughout our lives.

Advance Preparation

Suggestions for Teaching

The Importance of Christlike Attributes

Invite students to open to page 123 in Preach My Gospel and look at the photo of the missionary name tag. Ask:

  • What are the two most prominent parts of the missionary name tag? (The missionary’s name and the Savior’s name.)

  • Why would it be important for you and for others to associate your name with the Savior’s?

Have students take turns reading aloud the five paragraphs on page 115 in Preach My Gospel while the class follows along, looking for how we can accept the invitation to follow Jesus Christ. After they have finished reading, ask:

  • How do we accept Jesus Christ’s invitation to follow Him? (Students should identify the principle: We accept Jesus Christ’s invitation to follow Him by becoming like Him and developing His attributes.)

  • How could developing Christlike attributes make you a more powerful and effective minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Ask the students to each select one of the scriptures in the Scripture Study box on page 116 of Preach My Gospel. Have students read their selected scripture passage and look for what it says about following Jesus Christ’s example. Invite students to share what they learned with the class. After several students have responded, ask:

  • What are some character attributes you associate with Jesus Christ?

Show the video “Christlike Attributes” (2:54), which illustrates some of the Savior’s attributes. Have students watch for how the Savior’s divine attributes were made evident through his actions—particularly in the way he interacted with others.

After viewing the video, ask questions like the following, making sure to allow enough time for students to ponder their answers:

  • How were the Savior’s divine attributes evident in his actions, particularly in the way he interacted with others?

  • What effect did Jesus’s actions have on others?

Have students share with someone sitting next to them an experience in which they were impacted by someone’s Christlike behavior. Then give them a moment to ponder the following question:

  • What attributes of Christ shown in the video would you like to develop more fully?

Developing Christlike Attributes

Have a few students take turns reading aloud Doctrine and Covenants 4:1–7.

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 4:5–6, what is the relationship between Christlike attributes and the qualifications for being called to the work? (Though they may use different words, students should identify this principle: Individuals who possess Christlike attributes are qualified to serve in the Lord’s work.)

Invite the class to turn to the Attribute Activity on page 126 of Preach My Gospel. After explaining the instructions found at the top of the page, invite students to complete the activity. It may be helpful to tell students how much time they will have to spend on the activity. Consider providing photocopies of the activity for students. If students choose to complete the activity in their own copies of Preach My Gospel, you might encourage them to write in pencil. Allow sufficient time for all students to finish the activity. Then ask class members to share what they learned and felt as they worked through this self-evaluation. As needed, consider asking questions like these:

  • Which attributes from the activity stand out to you, and why?

  • What did you learn from this activity?

Help students deepen their understanding of Christlike attributes by inviting them to select one attribute that they would like to learn more about and develop more fully in their own lives. Ask students to locate the section describing their chosen attribute on pages 116–22 of Preach My Gospel. Then give them time to study their section, along with the associated scriptures. It may be helpful to let students know how much time they will have to study. Write the following questions on the board for students to consider as they read:

  • What new insights about this attribute did you gain?

  • What must change in your heart, mind, or actions to develop this attribute?

  • How might developing this attribute increase your effectiveness as a missionary?

Walk around the room to see how each student is doing and to answer any questions students may have. After allowing sufficient time, invite students to share their responses to the questions written on the board.

Display the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and ask students to look for what President Uchtdorf says we must do in order to develop Christlike attributes:

Uchtdorf, Dieter F.

“The scriptures describe a number of Christlike attributes we need to develop during the course of our lives. … Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They cannot be developed without His help. The one help we all need is given to us freely through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Having faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. Christlike attributes come into our lives as we exercise our agency righteously. … In seeking to become more like the Savior, we need to reevaluate our lives regularly and rely, through the path of true repentance, upon the merits of Jesus Christ and the blessings of His Atonement” (“Christlike Attributes—the Wind beneath Our Wings,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 102–103).

  • What does it mean to you that “Christlike attributes are gifts from God”? (They are gifts that cannot be fully developed without God’s help.)

  • According to President Uchtdorf, what can we do to draw upon God’s help in developing these attributes? (You might summarize student responses by writing the following on the board: We can develop Christlike attributes as we repent, have faith in Jesus Christ, and rely on the Atonement.)

  • How can repenting and having faith in the Atonement help us to develop Christlike attributes? (Through faith and repentance, we invite the Lord to bless us with Christlike attributes. When we repent, we show our desire to become more Christlike, and we invite a greater measure of the Holy Ghost into our lives.)

Display the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud to the class:

Oaks, Dallin H.

“In teaching the Nephites, the Savior referred to what they must become. He challenged them to repent and be baptized and be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, ‘that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day’ (3 Ne. 27:20). He concluded: ‘Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am’ (3 Ne. 27:27).

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan by which we can become what children of God are supposed to become. This spotless and perfected state will result from a steady succession of covenants, ordinances, and actions, an accumulation of right choices, and from continuing repentance. ‘This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God’ (Alma 34:32)” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 33).


  • According to Elder Oaks, what must we do in order to become more like Jesus Christ? (We must make and keep sacred covenants, worthily receive ordinances, make right choices, and repent.)

Invite students to turn to Moroni 7:47–48. Explain that although these verses deal specifically with charity, they teach a more general principle about gaining Christlike attributes. Invite a student to read the verses while the class follows along, looking for what we can do to invite Heavenly Father’s help in becoming like His Son (answers should focus on the importance of asking Heavenly Father to help us and becoming “true followers” of Christ). Point out that since Christlike attributes are gifts from God, we should ask Him for help in developing them.

To help students consider how they might apply what they have learned, you might ask students to share examples of actions that a prospective missionary might take when seeking to develop the attribute they studied about. Then give students a few minutes to write down a plan, including some consistent right choices they can make, to help them better develop that attribute. Encourage them to share their plan with their parents or a trusted friend. Also, encourage students to not delay following their plan. Efforts they make now can have a big impact on their mission experiences.

Conclude this portion of the lesson by assuring students that the Lord will bless them as they exercise faith in the Atonement and seek to become like Him.

Christlike Attributes in Missionary Work

Write on the board the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, who was sharing a quote that is often attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi. Ask a student to read the statement aloud:

“Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words” (“Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 77).

Then ask questions like the following:

  • How can we preach the gospel without using words?

  • How can gaining Christlike attributes allow us to better preach the gospel, both with and without using words?

  • What happens to individuals’ hearts when they are treated in a Christlike manner? (Their hearts are softened and they will be more receptive to listening to the gospel message).

  • Why are the Christlike attributes of a missionary so important to the success of missionary work? (Student responses could include this truth: Christlike attributes can be a powerful influence in bringing people to the Savior.)

Show the video “Impressions of Missionaries” (4:32). Have students take notes on the attributes that investigators observed in the missionaries and the effect those attributes had on the investigators.

After the video, ask:

  • What were some of the missionaries’ positive attributes that investigators identified?

  • Why do you think these qualities made such a positive impression on investigators?

  • Some of the investigators mentioned less-positive qualities. How did these qualities impact the investigators?

  • How might missionaries avoid leaving these less-positive impressions?

To further illustrate how Christlike attributes and behaviors can help missionaries prepare those they teach to receive the gospel, ask a student to summarize the story of Ammon’s efforts to preach the gospel among the Lamanites. Split the class into four groups, and assign one of the following scripture passages to each group. Have students silently read their assigned passage and identify the Christlike qualities that Ammon exhibited.

Alma 17:22–25

Alma 17:28–31

Alma 17:33–37

Alma 18:1–3, 8–10

After students have had time to read, discuss the following with the class:

  • Which Christlike attributes did Ammon exhibit in the verses you read?

  • How did Ammon’s attributes impact the people he was teaching?

  • What are some ways that modern missionaries could follow Ammon’s example?

Invite students to think of a person they have observed who exemplified Christlike attributes. Ask:

  • How has this person influenced you through their Christlike behavior?

Serving with a Companion

Remind students that missionaries are always assigned to serve with a companion. Invite students to suggest potential challenges that might occur when working with a companion. Ask students the following questions:

  • Why do you think missionaries serve in companionships?

Read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 42:6 and 2 Corinthians 13:1 to help students see that missionaries serve in companionships because it is a pattern given by the Lord. Then ask:

  • Why is it important that missionaries manifest Christlike attitudes and actions toward their companions? (See D&C 38:24–25, 27.)

Display the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency, and ask a student to read it aloud to the class:

Faust, James E.

“Never permit contention in your companionships. Some of your missionary companions will be your life’s dearest friends. Be the kind of companion you would like to be with. Be unselfish in your relationship with your companions. When there is contention, the Spirit of the Lord will depart, regardless of who is at fault. Each of us is an individual with unique strengths and talents, different from any other person in the world. Each of us has weaknesses. In a harmonious companionship, there is teamwork—where one is weak, the other is strong” (“What I Want My Son to Know before He Leaves on His Mission,” Ensign, May 1996, 41).

  • What did President Faust say would happen when there is contention between missionary companions? (See also 3 Nephi 11:29.)

  • How can the attributes we have been studying help companions avoid contention and have a more harmonious relationship? (Help students identify the principle that when missionary companions manifest Christlike attitudes and behaviors toward each other, they are blessed with the Spirit.)

  • Why might having a harmonious relationship make a companionship more effective in preaching the gospel?

Consider reading aloud the first five paragraphs under the subsection entitled “Your Companion” (in the “Relationships with Others” section) in the Missionary Handbook (pages 29–30). Then ask:

  • How have you used a principle found in these paragraphs to strengthen your relationship with a family member or friend?

Conclude by inviting your students to bear their testimonies about Christ and the importance of becoming like Him.

Invitations to Act

Help students recognize that the process of developing Christlike attributes requires the Lord’s help and much personal effort. Encourage students to complete one or more of the following suggested activities as part of their efforts to become more like the Savior:

  • Choose one of the Christlike attributes from chapter 6 in Preach My Gospel and study it further using the scriptures, including the Bible Dictionary, Topical Guide, index, and so forth. Create a plan to more fully develop that attribute in your life. Share your plan with your parents or a trusted friend.

  • Think about what you can do to be more Christlike toward your family, friends (both member and nonmember), and Church leaders. Write down specific ideas you have and act on them this week.

  • Make some goals on how you might prepare to avoid contention with a future missionary companion.

  • Find ways to express love to family members and friends and to serve them with patience and charity.