Chapter 14: Christlike Attributes

Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Religion 130, (2005), 92–97


Christlike attributes help missionaries effectively teach the restored gospel. As we become more Christlike, we become more able to radiate gospel light to others. As we emulate the Savior, our actions and words encourage others to “take upon them the name of Jesus Christ” (D&C 20:37).

Christus

Jesus taught His disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

Missionaries who follow the Savior by living Christlike lives and who obediently serve with all their hearts, might, minds, and strength become powerful instruments in the hands of the Lord.

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • Missionaries strive to develop Christlike attributes.

  • Missionaries are commanded to serve God with all their “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2).

  • Obedience is a vital attribute in missionary work.

Teaching Suggestions

Missionaries strive to develop Christlike attributes.

Begin by reading the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Clean, clear, bright-eyed missionaries, laboring two-by-two, have become a living symbol of the Church everywhere. They themselves are the first gospel message their investigators encounter—and what a message that is. Everyone knows who they are” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 30; or Ensign, May 2004, 30).

Ask students to name and discuss qualities that a successful missionary might have that would attract investigators and cause them to listen to the message of the restored gospel. Write student answers on the board.

Have a student read Doctrine and Covenants 4:5–6. Ask the class to identify additional qualities found in these verses and add them to the list on the board.

Ask students to discuss some things they have done or experienced that have helped them to develop some of these attributes.

Divide the class into small groups, and assign each group to read and discuss one of the attributes from Doctrine and Covenants 4:6 (faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence). They may refer to the student manual (pp. 115–19), True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference (2004), the Bible Dictionary, Topical Guide (Guide to the Scriptures), and so on.

After allowing time for study and discussion within their groups, provide each group with a copy of the instructions and questions below that correspond to the attribute they just studied. Invite the small groups to use the questions and activities for their attribute to lead a discussion with the whole class. They should supplement the instructions and questions with information gained from their prior group study. They should conclude by encouraging student comments that share insights regarding what students can do to personally develop these attributes more fully and how doing so will make them better missionaries.

Faith. Have students find at least one scripture in both the New Testament and Book of Mormon that define faith.

Invite three students to each silently read one of the statements in the student manual regarding faith (p. 115) and describe to the class what it means in his or her own words. If reference is not made to Ether 12, Moroni 7, or Hebrews 11, be sure to call attention to these foundation scriptures on faith.

Virtue. Review with the students President Ezra Taft Benson’s statement to the priesthood brethren (student manual, 115) that “virtuous behavior implies that [a priesthood holder] has pure thoughts and clean actions” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 60; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 46).

  • How can we keep our minds centered upon pure thoughts?

  • When a bad thought enters our minds, what should we do?

  • What do you think is meant by the term “clean actions”?

  • Why is it vital that a missionary keep his or her thoughts virtuous?

Knowledge. Ask a student to read aloud President Spencer W. Kimball’s statement on knowledge (see student manual, 116).

  • How do we determine which areas of knowledge are vital for us to acquire?

  • Why does the acquisition of spiritual knowledge require persistence and dedication?

  • What do you think constitutes “persistence and dedication of one’s life”?

  • Why is knowledge important to a missionary?

Temperance. Ask students the following questions regarding the attribute of temperance:

  • What do you think it means that temperance requires self-restraint in emotions and in verbal expressions? (see student manual, 116).

  • What do you think it means to do things in moderation? (see student manual, 116).

  • What are some circumstances when temperance will need to be used during a mission?

Patience. Ask students to read silently Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin’s statement on patience (see student manual, 116), looking for a significant insight to share with the class. Encourage comments from other students on each insight shared.

  • In what aspects of missionary work might patience be important?

  • How are patience and faith related?

Brotherly kindness. Discuss with students the following questions. Encourage more than one student to respond.

  • Who comes to mind when you think of a person who is kind? What is it about that person that makes him or her seem kind?

  • How can we determine how kind we are?

  • What can we do to improve in this attribute?

Godliness. Write the following definition of godliness on the board: devout conformity to the will of God.

  • How does a missionary exercise devout conformity to the will of God?

  • Ask a student to read Moroni 10:31–32 to the class.

  • How do we “deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness”? (Moroni 10:32; italics added).

  • What do you think it means to “love God with all your might, mind and strength”? (Moroni 10:32).

  • According to this passage, what enables us to develop the attribute of godliness? (The grace of God.)

Charity. Write the word charity on the board. Have a student read the definition of charity in the Bible Dictionary (p. 632) or the Guide to the Scriptures (p. 38) and the description of charitable attributes in Moroni 7:45–48. Invite the class to underline what they feel are the most important phrases. Have them share what they have underlined.

  • How did Jesus demonstrate charity during His mortal life?

  • How is sincere sharing of the restored gospel a demonstration of true charity?

  • According to Moroni 7:48, how does one gain charity?

Have the students read the statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the student manual (p. 118) regarding the process of conversion.

  • According to Elder Oaks, why is it that charity never fails?

  • For whom will you need to have charity during your mission?

  • Why is it essential to have charity for your missionary companion?

Humility. Ask students to think of someone they consider to be a humble person. Ask them to share what there is about that person that exemplifies humility.

Have students look up humility in True to the Faith (p. 86). Have a student read the first paragraph, and then allow time for student comments regarding that information. Then read the remainder of the information under humility, and ask for student insights.

  • In what ways is humility a sign of strength rather than a sign of weakness?

  • What does it mean to be humble?

  • How can we recognize pride?

Diligence. Look up the word diligent in a dictionary.

  • What does diligent mean?

The word diligent comes from a word that means “to esteem, love” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. [2003], “Diligent,” 350).

  • Why does a person work hard for someone or something he or she loves?

  • What examples of diligence can you think of from the life of the Savior?

  • How might the attribute of diligence be applied to missionary labors?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 107:99 and suggest ways they feel this verse can be applied to the life of a full-time missionary.

Missionaries are commanded to serve God with all their “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2).

Invite students to suggest how many hours they think a typical missionary studies and works each day.

After some suggestions, show students the following sample daily schedule adapted from Preach My Gospel (2004; viii):

6:30 a.m.

Arise, pray, exercise for 30 minutes, and prepare for the day

7:30 a.m.

Breakfast

8:00 a.m.

Personal study

9:00 a.m.

Companion study

10:00 a.m.

Begin proselyting

Lunch

As appropriate for the day’s schedule (for one hour)

9:00 p.m.

Return to living quarters (unless teaching a lesson; then return by 9:30) and plan the next day’s activities (30 minutes)

10:30 p.m.

Retire to bed

(In consultation with the Area Presidency, mission presidents may modify this schedule to meet local circumstances.)

Have students review Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, 4.

  • As you consider a typical missionary schedule, what do you think it means to serve the Lord “with all your heart, might, mind and strength”?

DVD Track 23 Read with students Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s explanation of how the difficulties of missionary work are related to the Atonement (see student manual, 119), or you may choose to show DVD track 23 (2:14).

  • What insights do we gain from Elder Holland’s statement?

Ask a student to read to the class President Ezra Taft Benson’s quotation on work (see student manual, 93).

  • What is one of the greatest secrets of missionary work?

  • What will happen when a missionary teaches by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost?

Obedience is a vital attribute in missionary work.

Have a student read President Hinckley’s missionary experience of meeting with a publisher (see student manual, 120).

  • What does this experience suggest about the ease of obeying the counsel of a mission president?

Refer students to President Ezra Taft Benson’s statement in the student manual as quoted by Elder Donald L. Staheli (see student manual, 120).

  • In what ways can you see President Benson’s statement on God endowing the obedient with power illustrated in President Hinckley’s experience?

Divide the class into groups of three, and have them search the scriptures looking for examples of people who were obedient. Have them share what they found and explain ways their scripture discovery could apply to situations a full-time missionary might face.

Let students know that there are mission rules that apply to all missionaries throughout the world, and there may be some additional mission rules established by the mission president that apply only to a specific mission.

  • Why might some mission rules differ from mission to mission?

Some mission rules may relate to cultural expectations, which, if broken, offend the people and embarrass the Church. Many foreign missions have different rules specific to the country. Whatever the case may be, mission rules exist for important reasons.

  • When it comes to mission rules, why is it better to obey than to question?

  • In what ways does obeying mission rules help a missionary serve God as described in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2?

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy discussed mission rules specifically (see student manual, 120–21). Have the students read his statement together.

Share the following teaching from President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“By following the rules, you will never make a serious mistake. You can never make a serious mistake either while you are on your mission or thereafter without being warned. You will never take the wrong road, you will never go around the wrong bend, or make the wrong decision without your having been warned. That pattern is the pattern of the Latter-day Saint. You were confirmed a member of the Church, and you had conferred upon you the gift of the Holy Ghost to be a guide and a companion to you, to be a comfort to you. The Holy Ghost is a comforter” (“Some Things Every Missionary Should Know” [new mission presidents’ seminar, June 26, 2002], 12).

  • What advantages come from obedience?

  • Why must a missionary be obedient to have the influence of the Holy Ghost?

Suggested Assignments for Students

  • Ponder your personal progress toward developing Christlike attributes. Select one or two areas to improve in and develop a specific plan for improvement.