2015 Visiting Teaching to Center on Christ’s Attributes
Contributed By Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president
“As we look to Jesus as our Exemplar and as we follow in His footsteps, we can return safely to our Heavenly Father to live with Him forever.” —President Thomas S. Monson
Each new year is an opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. During 2014, Relief Society visiting teachers have shared messages of the divine mission of Jesus Christ as our Exemplar, Good Shepherd, Light of the World, Savior and Redeemer, Minister, and Advocate.
We feel confident that the most important messages were received as sisters tried to teach as He taught, minister as He ministered, and love as He loved.
In 2015, visiting teaching messages will continue to center on the Savior, focusing this year on some of His divine attributes that helped Him fulfill His mission here in mortality. As visiting teachers seek to acquire Christlike attributes in their own lives, we know they will be able to watch over, care for, and minister to their sisters as the Savior would if He were here.
Just as full-time missionaries are a resource to help our Father’s children come unto Christ, the same is true of visiting teachers. A couple of years ago, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles extended an invitation to members and nonmembers of the Church, speaking of missionaries when he said, “Ask the missionaries! They can help you!” (October 2012 general conference). Similarly, we say, “Ask your visiting teachers! They can help you!”
We begin the year focusing on the Christlike attribute of obedience. As in all things, the Savior led the way by His obedience. The Apostle Paul proclaimed, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
A powerful principle taught in Preach My Gospel applies not only to missionaries but to all of us who seek to follow the Savior in being obedient. In Preach My Gospel, we learn that “obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith.” Further, we are reminded in this same inspired resource that “you may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand. As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom” (Preach My Gospel, 122).
As Relief Society sisters, our purpose is to help women prepare for the blessings of eternal life. One way we do this is by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ. We learn from Preach My Gospel that obedience is a key to increasing our faith. As leaders, visiting teachers, and covenant daughters of our loving Father in Heaven, like missionaries, we may need to do things we do not completely understand. This will most often occur as we fall to our knees in prayer and earnestly seek personal revelation from the Lord to know what He would have us do to bless His children. The promise is that our faith will increase as we act in faith to be obedient to that which the Lord reveals to us.
President Thomas S. Monson taught, “A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God” (“Obedience Brings Blessings,” April 2013 general conference). This reflects the Savior’s own teaching found in John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.”
As I met with a group of young full-time missionaries recently, one sister told me she was seeking to acquire the Christlike attribute of patience from Heavenly Father to help her in her quest to be a better missionary. In her pursuit of patience, she was discovering that the Lord was giving her soul-stretching experiences to test and grow that attribute within her. We can each expect some growing experiences in whatever attribute we are trying harder to live.
As we learn together about Christlike attributes this year, may we each strive to take a step closer to becoming more like Him of whom we are teaching. We may find that we spend the entire year working on just one of those attributes. Individually and collectively, our striving to become more like Him can have far-reaching effects in our homes, in the Church, and in our communities. Where do we begin?
A helpful pattern to assist us in our quest can be found in Preach My Gospel:
• Identify the attribute you wish to develop.
• Write a definition and description of the attribute.
• Record questions to answer as you study.
• List and study thoroughly passages of scripture that teach about the attribute.
• Record your feelings and impressions.
• Set goals and make plans to apply the attribute in your life.
• Pray for the Lord to help you develop the attribute.
• Evaluate your progress periodically in developing each attribute.
(See Preach My Gospel, 115–26.)
President Thomas S. Monson’s words can inspire us as we begin where we are and move step by step to become more like our Savior.
He said during his October 2014 general conference address, “As we look to Jesus as our Exemplar and as we follow in His footsteps, we can return safely to our Heavenly Father to live with Him forever.”
We are here to help one another in Relief Society to do just that as we prepare for the blessings of eternal life. Sisters, “let’s ask our [visiting teachers]. They can help us”—to become more Christlike!