Latter-day Saints are often reminded to see others as Heavenly Father or the Savior see them.
“To effectively serve others, we must see them through a parent’s eyes, through Heavenly Father’s eyes,” said Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his October 2015 general conference address. “Only then can we begin to comprehend the true worth of a soul. Only then can we sense the love that Heavenly Father has for all of His children. Only then can we sense the Savior’s caring concern for them.”
He pointed to the New Testament transformation of Saul of Tarsus to the apostle Paul, a fearless disciple of Christ. “His life offers a wonderful example of how God sees people not only as they currently are but also as they may become,” Elder Duncan said. “We all have, in our own lives, Saul-like individuals with Paul-like potential. Can you imagine how our families, our communities and the world at large might change if we all tried to see each other as God sees us?”
We may be improving on seeing others as God sees them. But how often do we pause to see ourselves as God sees us?
As a mission president a decade ago, I once altered the format of the regular president-missionary interviews to create an opportunity for our missionaries to look at themselves as if through the eyes of the Savior.
Inviting each into a private interview setting, I first asked if the missionary had any information or questions for me. Then I asked the missionary to close his or her eyes and answer three questions that went something like this:
“First, what is just one area of personal improvement — perhaps a personal trait or characteristic of Christ — that you would like to work on over the next month?”
With the missionaries’ eyes closed, I was free to watch his or her facial expressions in self-evaluation. Some would smile in their thoughts, others would furl up a brow in contemplation. And I only asked for one — as some self-critical missionaries would want to create a laundry list of items to tackle.
Whatever answer the missionary gave I wrote down on a small index card in my hand, going on to the next question.
“OK, let’s say the door to this room opens — in comes your companion, who sits down beside you. If we asked your companion what one thing he or she would say you could work on, what would that be?”
Another question, and another set of facial expressions — most often starting with smiles at the mention of the companion. Then came more pondering, as the missionary experienced seeing himself or herself through the eyes of another. Once an answer was given, it was added to the index card before asking the third and final question — with the missionary’s eyes still closed.
“OK, your companion gets up and leaves the room. But the door opens again, and in comes the Savior. He walks over to you, sits down, puts His arm around you, gives an embrace and tells you He loves you. He tells you that you’re doing better than you think you are. And then He says, ‘But there is one thing I want you to work on.’ What is the one thing He tells you?”
Again, I’d be watching the face of each missionary thinking of being at the Savior’s side — expressions of love, gratitude, peace, reassurance and humility, often accompanied by moist eyes. This response usually took the longest time and most focused thought.
Once the final answer was given, I wrote it on the card and invited the missionary to open his or her eyes and join me in prayer. As I prayed for the missionary, I referred to the three areas of improvement mentioned in our interview. As we concluded our time together, I handed the card to the missionary for future reference. And the next time we met for an interview, I asked each for a progress report on how he or she were doing.
In his May 2022 worldwide devotional address to young adults and then social media posts two months later, President Russell M. Nelson spoke about labels and true identity — with instruction that helps us see ourselves as God sees us.
“I believe that if the Lord were speaking to you directly, the first thing He would make sure you understand is your true identify. My dear friends, you are literally spirit children of God,” President Nelson wrote in his July 20, 2022, social media posts.
“No identifier should displace, replace or take priority over these three enduring designations:
- Child of God
- Child of the covenant
- Disciple of Jesus Christ
“Any identifier that is not compatible with those three basic designations will ultimately let you down. Make no mistake about it: Your potential is divine. With your diligent seeking, God will give you glimpses of who you may become.”
What a blessing that is when trying to see ourselves as God sees us — the prophetic promise of God-given glimpses of who we may become.