Welcome to the Talk Of The Week Club. I began this club as a way to share my love of learning and growing in the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My hope and desire is for you to learn and grow in your faith and love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Each Thursday a new talk will be posted, come back, open your heart and mind, allow yourself to receive and I promise you will be spiritually fed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Week 36: Christlike Attributes-the Wind beneath Our Wings

As I thought about what I should share with you this week I was completely at a loss until my October Ensign arrived on Monday afternoon. As if an answer to my prayer I began to read it hoping to receive some direction. I was so happy when I found President Dieter Uchtdorf’s talk entitled “Christ-like Attributes-the Wind Beneath our Wings,” which was originally given in the October 2005 session of general conference. THIS WAS IT!

In July, I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament meeting in front of my brand new ward (in a brand new state) on the topic of DEVELOPING CHRIST-LIKE ATTRIBUTES. I was excited, I was scared, and I was an emotional wreck! I am a fairly good writer but when speaking in front of large groups I sometimes find it hard to put two sentences together without stumbling over my words. Along with the Preach My Gospel manual I used the above-mentioned talk to help guide me through what I needed to say. Through much prayer and preparation the thoughts came easily and I was able to deliver my talk.

After reading it again, listening to the mp3 and re-watching it on my computer through lds.org (don’t you just love the internet?!) I felt doubly impressed to share it with all of you as you too strive to live according to the basic gospel principles and develop Christ-like attributes.

: ) Alida

CHALLENGE: This week I suggest choosing a specific attribute you would like to work on. Write it down and include a definition and a description of the attribute. Search your scriptures for passages that teach about the attribute you are working on. Apply that in your life and pray for the Lord to help you more fully draw closer to Christ as you develop the attribute. As you do so, it will become easier to emulate Christ in all your doings. Remember, that learning to be Christ-like is a lifelong pursuit!!!! : )


Christlike Attributes-the Wind beneath Our Wings - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Christlike Attributes—the Wind beneath Our Wings
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Living according to the basic gospel principles will bring power, strength, and spiritual self-reliance into the lives of all Latter-day Saints.

My dear brothers and sisters, my dear friends:
During my professional life as an airline pilot, I sometimes had passengers visit the cockpit of my Boeing 747. They asked about the many switches, instruments, systems, and procedures and how all this technical equipment would help such a huge and beautiful airplane fly.
As with all pilots, I enjoyed the fact that they were impressed by the apparent complexity of this plane and that they wondered what kind of magnificent and brilliant person it takes to operate it! At this point of my story, my wife and children would kindly interrupt and say with a twinkling in their eyes, "Pilots are born with a great measure of natural humility!"
To the visitors in my cockpit, I would explain that it takes a great aerodynamic design, many auxiliary systems and programs, and powerful engines to make this flying machine equal to the task of bringing comfort and safety to those joining the flight.
To simplify my explanation by focusing on the basics, I would add that all you really need is a strong forward thrust, a powerful upward lift, and the right aircraft attitude, and the laws of nature will carry the 747 and its passengers safely across continents and oceans, over high mountains and dangerous thunderstorms to its destination.
In recent years, I have often contemplated that being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invites us to ask similar questions. What are the basics, the fundamental principles of our membership in the kingdom of God on earth? After all is said and done, what will really carry us at times of greatest need to our desired eternal destination?
The Church, with all its organizational structure and programs, offers many important activities for its members aimed at helping families and individuals to serve God and each other. Sometimes, however, it can appear that these programs and activities are closer to the center of our heart and soul than the core doctrines and principles of the gospel. Procedures, programs, policies, and patterns of organization are helpful for our spiritual progress here on earth, but let's not forget that they are subject to change.
In contrast, the core of the gospel—the doctrine and the principles—will never change. Living according to the basic gospel principles will bring power, strength, and spiritual self-reliance into the lives of all Latter-day Saints.
Faith is such a principle of power. We need this source of power in our lives. God works by power, but this power is usually exercised in response to our faith. "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). God works according to the faith of His children.
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves" (quoted by John Taylor, in "The Organization of the Church," Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, 339). To me, this teaching is beautifully straightforward. As we strive to understand, internalize, and live correct gospel principles, we will become more spiritually self-reliant. The principle of spiritual self-reliance grows out of a fundamental doctrine of the Church that God has granted us—agency. I believe that moral agency is one of the greatest gifts of God unto His children, next to life itself.
When I study and ponder moral agency and its eternal consequences, I realize that we are truly spirit children of God and therefore should act accordingly. This understanding also reminds me that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are part of a great worldwide family of Saints.
The organizational structure of the Church allows great flexibility according to the size, growth pattern, and needs of our congregations. There is the basic unit program with a very simple organizational structure and fewer meetings. We also have large wards with great organizational resources to serve one another. All are established within the inspired programs of the Church to help members "come unto Christ, and be perfected in him" (Moroni 10:32).
All these varied options are equal in divine value because the doctrine of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is the same in each unit. I testify as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ that He lives, that the gospel is true, and that it offers the answers to all personal and collective challenges the children of God have on this earth today.
This summer my wife and I visited with members of the Church in many countries throughout Europe. In some parts of Europe, the Church has been present for many years, even since 1837. There is a great heritage of faithful members in Europe. Currently, we have more than 400,000 members in Europe. As we look at all the generations who have emigrated from Europe to America during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, that total number could easily be multiplied a few times.
Why did so many faithful members leave their home countries in those early days of the Church? Many reasons can be named: to escape persecution, to help build the Church in America, to improve their economic circumstances, the desire to be close to a temple, and many more.
Europe still feels the consequence of this exodus. But the strength that comes from several faithful generations of Church members is now becoming more apparent. We see more young men and women and more senior couples serve missions for the Lord; we see more temple marriages; we see more confidence and courage by the members to share the restored gospel. Among the peoples of Europe and many other parts of the world, there is a spiritual vacuum of Christ's true teachings. This vacuum must, can, and will be filled with the message of the restored gospel as our wonderful members live and proclaim this gospel with greater courage and faith.
With the expansion of the Church in Europe, there are now countries where the Church has been for less than 15 years. I spoke with a mission president serving in his homeland of Russia who has been a member for only seven years. He told me, "The same month I was baptized I was called as a branch president." Did he feel overwhelmed at times? Absolutely! Did he try to implement the full range of Church programs? Fortunately not! How did he grow so strong in such a small congregation, in such a short time? He explained, "I knew with all my soul the Church was true. The doctrine of the gospel filled my mind and my heart. As we joined the Church, we felt part of a family. We felt warmth, trust, and love. We were only few, but we all tried to follow the Savior."
They supported each other, they did the best they could, and they knew the Church was true. It was not the organization that had attracted him, but the light of the gospel, and this light strengthened those good members.
In many countries the Church is still in its beginnings, and the organizational circumstances are sometimes far from perfect. However, the members may have a perfect testimony of the truth in their hearts. As the members will stay in their countries and build the Church, despite economic challenges and hardships, future generations will be grateful to those courageous modern-day pioneers. They abide by the loving invitation of the First Presidency given in 1999:
"In our day, the Lord has seen fit to provide the blessings of the gospel, including an increased number of temples, in many parts of the world. Therefore, we wish to reiterate the long-standing counsel to members of the Church to remain in their homelands rather than immigrate to the United States. . . .
"As members throughout the world remain in their homelands, working to build the Church in their native countries, great blessings will come to them personally and to the Church collectively" (First Presidency letter, Dec. 1, 1999).
May I add a word of caution to those of us who live in large wards and stakes. We have to be careful that the center of our testimony is not located in the social dimension of the Church community or the wonderful activities, programs, and organizations of our wards and stakes. All of these things are important and valuable to have—but they are not enough. Even friendship is not enough.
We recognize that we are living in a time of turmoil, disaster, and war. We and many others feel strongly the great need for a "defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth" (D&C 115:6). How do we find such a place of safety? The prophet of God, even President Hinckley, has taught: "Our safety lies in the virtue of our lives. Our strength lies in our righteousness" ("Till We Meet Again," Liahona, Jan. 2002, 105; Ensign, Nov. 2001, 90).
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" (Matthew 4:19). This was also the beginning of the ministry of the Twelve Apostles, and I suspect that they had a feeling of inadequacy, as I deeply have, being one who has also been called to this sacred work. 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).
The scriptures describe a number of Christlike attributes we need to develop during the course of our lives. They include knowledge and humility, charity and love, obedience and diligence, faith and hope. These personal character qualities stand independent of the organizational status of our Church unit, our economic circumstances, our family situation, culture, race, or language. 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. Faith in Jesus Christ leads to action. When we have faith in Christ, we trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments—even when we do not completely understand the reasons for them. 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.
Developing Christlike attributes can be a painful process. We need to be ready to accept direction and correction from the Lord and His servants. This worldwide conference with its music and spoken word offers spiritual power, direction, and blessings "from on high" (D&C 43:16). It is a time when the voice of personal inspiration and revelation will bring peace to our souls and will teach us how to become more Christlike. This voice will be as sweet as the voice of a dear friend, and it will fill our souls when our hearts are sufficiently contrite.
By becoming more like the Savior, we will grow in our ability to "abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost" (Romans 15:13). We will "lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better" (D&C 25:10).
This leads me back to my aerodynamic analogy from the beginning. I spoke of focusing on the basics. Christlike attributes are the basics. They are the fundamental principles that will create "the wind beneath our wings." As we develop Christlike attributes in our own lives, step-by-step, they will "bear [us] up as on eagles' wings" (D&C 124:18). Our faith in Jesus Christ will provide power and a strong forward thrust; our unwavering and active hope will provide a powerful upward lift. Both faith and hope will carry us across oceans of temptations, over mountains of afflictions, and bring us safely back to our eternal home and destination.
Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1 comment:

  1. I love what you've done here Shauntell. It's great to read from others that have that powerful conviction of Jesus Christ and his wonderful restored Gospel. I've taken pretty much the same approach as you have regarding the sharing of my testimony online, although my start of this is much more recent. I have a website and a blog that I'd love it if you'd link to from your blog. I'll link back to yours as well.

    My website is called "I Believe"

    My Blog is "Why I Believe" (real creative)

    On a different note but one you and your readers may find interesting;
    The past few days I've had some time to browse around and was appalled to find several blogs from different faiths and different people including several religious leaders that were openly discuss changing the doctrines of Jesus Christ in an effort to draw more people into their congregations. They were talking about changing the Gospel to make it easier or more comfortable for people to accept. I guess I must have been a little naive to assume that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was exactly that as taught in the scriptures. Of course I knew that the many different faiths taught that gospel differently according to their own interpretations, but I have to admit that I was floored to find them talking so openly about changing to the point where one guy (I suspect he was a member of their congregation) suggested that they needed to get back to the Gospel of Christ because where they were at currently had very little resemblance to what one finds in the Bible.

    The more I study the Gospel of Christ as taught by Christ himself as well as by his Apostles and Prophets in the Bible, the more my heart cries out for all religion everywhere to return to that same Gospel and doctrine of Christ. Christian religions worldwide have changed the message of Christ to be something all together different for the purpose of making it “easy” and “comfortable”. They have completely removed the “repent or suffer the consequences” that was taught by nearly everybody in the Bible. Are the religious leaders of the world so afraid of offending someone that they won’t teach the real Gospel of Jesus Christ. Have they chosen a message that is “easy” and “comfortable” to live so they can grow their congregation or as an attempt to remove their own guilt?

    I love how the doctrines of our church haven’t changed one bit and never will, not to mention our church is also established with the same structure as that found in the Old and New Testaments, including Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists (though we call them Mormon missionaries). And of course the most important part is that the same priesthood power that Jesus Christ has is also available to every male member to serve one another as was taught throughout the scriptures. My website talks further about this.


    These are powerful foundations that the people of the world today need to build their faith upon. I wish they could see that we can’t afford to teach anything outside of the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When they do they are no better than the Sadducees and the Pharisees that altered and modified the Law of Moses and were called to repentance by Christ himself throughout his ministry.

    Deut. 12:32
    "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."