Becoming more like the Savior

Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.


“The entire purpose of our life is to become a glorified being like our Savior,” said Sister Merilee Boyack, a speaker at BYU Education Week on Aug. 22. At the Marriott Center, Boyack shared with attendees seven steps to become more like Christ.

“So often we say our purpose in life is to return to live with our Heavenly Father and that’s the wrong answer,” she said. “It is important to return to live with Heavenly Father, but it is just as important to become like Him.”

To support the theme of her presentation, Boyack shared a scripture from the third book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Jesus Christ is speaking to His apostles: “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27).

What a challenge, she said. Is it even possible for a person to become like Jesus Christ? Quoting President Ezra Taft Benson, she said, “‘The answer is yes. Not only can we, but that is our charge, our responsibility. He would not give us that commandment if He did not mean for us to do it'” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, (2014), pp. 296–306).

“We spend a lot of time trying to be like Jesus, but what does that mean?” she asked. “How are we becoming like Jesus? Here are seven steps to help us become more like the Savior.”

1. Figure out what God and Christ are like. “This is an active pursuit that we can all be involved in,” Boyack said. “The obvious choice is that we turn to the scriptures in order to come to know Him.” A practical example she suggests is to make a list of the Godlike attributes one discovers by reading the scriptures, observing good examples and learning from those around us.

2. Study how He acts and reacts. Boyack shared several scriptures from the New Testament outlining the life of Christ. She spoke in detail about the actions of Christ found in those passages.

“Becoming more like Jesus Christ is more than a checklist, it is seeing his behaviors and patterns,” she said. “Look particularly at the way He acts during times of stress and fatigue. For example, the first thing He did in His ministry was go and cleanse the temple. At times of stress he reacted with strength, passion, conviction and resolve.” Make a list of those attributes you find.

3. Self assessment. Once we have a list of the Savior’s attributes, we want to know how we are doing personally, Boyack said. Make sure your goals are realistic and prioritize the things you need to work on. Quoting Elder George Q. Cannon, she said, “We are the children of God, and as His children there is no attribute we ascribe to Him that we do not possess, though they may be dormant or in embryo. The mission of the gospel is to develop these powers and make us like our Heavenly Parent” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of George Q. Cannon, sel. Jerreld L. Newquist (1974), 3).

4. What impurities need removing? Repentance means one can return to Him, she said. When we are making progress, we lose the desire to do evil. An excellent way to know Him is to list the things He is not. She quotied Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who said, “You can change. You can be helped. You can be made whole — whatever the problem. All He asks is that you walk away from the darkness and come into the light, His light, with meekness and lowliness of heart” (“Come unto Me,” general conference, April 1998.)

5. What attributes need adding? In addition to stopping things one shouldn’t do, one needs to ask what good things are needed to grow, she said. As an example for adding attributes of Christ to one’s life, she shared a quote from Elaine S. Dalton: “Virtue is a requirement to have the companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost. You will need that guidance in order to successfully navigate the world in which you live. Being virtuous is a requirement to enter the temple. And it is a requirement to be worthy to stand in the Savior’s presence. You are preparing now for that time” (“Guardians of Virtue,” April 2011).

6. Plan of action. Focus on becoming someone better as Elder Oaks teaches, she said. “To achieve our eternal destiny, we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being” (“Desire,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, April 2011, general conference). No comparison to others is needed.

Sharing a personal example Boyack said, “Choose an annual attribute to work on. Try to do something perfectly for an entire year. Choose an attribute such as meekness and study it for a year. Write journal entries about one specific attribute.” An additional idea she shared was to take a personal photo and tape a slip of paper under the photo with the attribute written on it. Say to yourself, “I am patient” or “I am kind,” depending on the attribute.

7. Role of accountability. Members of the Church operate under the principle of return and report, Boyack said. By living the covenants and ordinances of the gospel, one is taught holiness and godliness. Covenants can be followed to show accountability towards God. “Some of the most tender things you can read are from the prophets and apostles’ intimate and loving relationships with the Savior,” she said.

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