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How to develop qualities of discipleship

The word disciple means a follower of Christ, and a follower of Christ, as we know, should possess Christlike attributes, such as the following:

  • Gospel knowledge and testimony.- Personal righteousness.
  • Faith.
  • A good work ethic.
  • Charity.

As we read from the standard works of the Church, we read about disciples who possess these attributes. We need to follow their examples.

To develop these attributes or qualities, we need to do the following:

  • Keep the Sabbath holy. Attend all meetings.
  • Share our testimonies to help them grow.
  • Exercise our faith.
  • Serve others. Strive to help them also progress in the gospel. Thus, our personal righteousness will increase, and we'll become more charitable as it is stated in D&C 130:21.

Charity is a gift from God and must be received from God like all other gifts. It comes from obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. - Millicent Agina Duma, Nairobi, Kenya

What we did

`Do we love Him?'

A disciple is someone who chooses to follow our Savior. That means living life without guile, without passing judgment on others and being critical. It's basically loving and accepting others.

Developing discipleship includes praying, fasting, studying scriptures, serving and striving for the example that Christ set for us. In addition, His example includes forgiving those who cause us pain.

One thing I hear people say a lot is, "No matter what mistake I make in life I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me." I realize that is a very important part of the gospel, but I ask myself, "Do I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? Do I love them enough to keep the commandments and be Christlike?"

That's the key. Of course He loves us. That's a given. But do we love Him?

We also need to remember that everyone is at a different station in life and growth comes. We are all children of our Heavenly Father. Loving as our Savior does is what we should do. And that's more than just saying it, it's living it. - Sharon Duke, Salt Lake City, Utah

Deeper test

Lamoni's father in Alma 22 had the beginnings of becoming a disciple of Christ when he was willing to forsake his worldly possessions to know about Christ and His gospel. The deeper test came when he prayed, "I will give away all my sins to know thee."

President Ezra Taft Benson said during the October 1983 general conference: " . . . Each of us must surrender our sins if we are to really know Christ. For we do not know Him until we become like Him."

As we study the life of Christ, learn His commandments and do His will we will know what manner of men and women we ought to be. Are we consumed in Christ and look unto Him in every thought so we can receive His image in our countenance?

The literature we read, the music we hear, the entertainment we watch, the thoughts we think and the service we perform will help us become more like Him. These will help us develop the qualities He would have us incorporate into our lives to become true followers of Christ. - Garry B. Weiss, Mesa, Ariz.

Devoted follower

In the Church, when we talk about being disciples, we mean being followers of Jesus Christ. When I think of the word "disciple," I picture a devoted follower. The scriptures give us many suggestions of how to increase our discipleship and the qualities of a disciple. Here are a few:

  • Come to know Him. How can you follow someone you don't know? To be a disciple, you need a knowledge of your Master. You come to know the Lord through scripture study, prayer, fasting, and Church and temple attendance.
  • Use the knowledge. James tells us in James 1:22: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. . . ." Your knowledge increases your testimony. Your testimony influences your actions. Your actions can build your character.
  • Emulate the Master. Follow everything He commands and teaches. We are commanded to be like Jesus Christ. (See 3 Ne. 12:48.)

These are all so closely related, it is almost impossible to do one of these steps without doing them all. - Ben DeSpain, Westville, South Africa

Study the scriptures

In John 8:31, Jesus says, "If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed." Therefore, to continue in His word, we must read and learn it, by diligently studying the holy scriptures.

We must faithfully attend our Church meetings, listen to the conferences, prepare for our callings, read to our children and loved ones, and have our own personal time in the scriptures.

To be a disciple is to be a pupil or a learner. To learn, we must have a two-way conversation, whereby we question that which we do not understand. In other words, we must pray faithfully and humbly on our knees daily. Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. Through His word and faithful prayer, we can and will develop the qualities of discipleship. - Melissa Current, Concord, Calif.

`As a little child'

The best and only way to be a disciple of Christ is to do as Jesus asks and "become as a little child." By this, He does not mean for us to be childish or irresponsible.

He is asking us to emulate the good qualities of children. Have you ever watched a young child closely? I was once called to serve as a Primary teacher to 8-year-olds. It often took a big effort and a lot of preparation to teach them. But I was amazed at their willingness to learn and their interest in spiritual things. Their morals, too, impressed me. The occasional scuffle among peers often ended with apologies and hugs, unlike hardened adults. And though their sense of right and wrong was not perfect, they would readily identify their mistakes and would usually correct them.

If we all but took the time to learn from the example of our little ones, we'd be far better disciples. Humility, forgiveness, willingness to learn, interest in doing good turns - each of these may be acquired by simply watching and learning from our little ones. - Paul T. Dolberg, Bristol, England

How to checklist:

1 Seek to know Christ by studying the scriptures, praying; ponder His life.

2 Serve others; love others, forgive those who hurt you.

3 Strive to keep the commandments; be willing to `give away' your sins.

4 Emulate the Master; develop Christlike qualities.

Write to us:

Jan. 3 "How to gain a deeper spiritual appreciation for the Old Testament."

Jan. 10 "How to better serve those to whom you are assigned as a home teacher or visiting teacher in 1998."

Jan. 17 "How to avoid greed."

Jan. 24 "How to be more resilient in day-to-day life."

Jan. 31 "How to save more, spend less."

Feb. 7 "How to teach children respect for their elders."

Feb. 14 "How to keep a clean home despite a busy schedule."

  • Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to get out of a rut in your career," "How to help yourself or loved one overcome an abusive nature," "How to be prepared to share the gospel and answer questions," "How to build a strong work ethic in children," "How to encourage children and young people to be physically active."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: [email protected] Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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