Dear Elders and Sisters,
One of the essential elements of your daily work is the invitation to change. The Doctrine of Christ invites each of Heavenly Father’s children, including us, to continually strive to change what needs to be changed to become more like Him. Jesus told His apostles, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” He provided a perfect example for us to follow. As we truly follow him, he extends to us the gifts of grace and mercy, empowering those who are sincerely trying to change to become like Him.
Grace is defined in the gospel dictionary as “enabling power.” The Atonement is not only able to cleanse us of past mistakes, it is the means of qualifying us to fully access the power of His grace. One of the great blessings of serving a mission is to witness firsthand the remarkable change that takes place in someone who repents and truly comes unto Christ. Something we often overlook is the necessity and blessing of experiencing those same changes in our own lives. President James E. Faust has taught that, “You cannot convert people beyond your own conversion” (PMG, pg. 182).
One of the talks from the recent general conference that I really enjoyed was given by Elder Hallstrom in the priesthood session. He related a story of when he was serving as a bishop, there was a man in his ward with many problems. “During one intense discussion about the challenges in his life, he leaned toward me…and said, ‘Bishop, I have a bad temper, and that’s just the way I am!’" He went on to say, “That statement stunned me that night and has haunted me ever since. Once this man decided—once any of us conclude—'That’s just the way I am,' we give up our ability to change. We might as well raise the white flag, put down our weapons, concede the battle, and just surrender—any prospect of winning is lost. While some of us may think that does not describe us, perhaps every one of us demonstrates by at least one or two bad habits, 'That’s just the way I am'" (Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, April 2014 general conference).
When we attended the mission president’s seminar with Elder Holland in February, he reminded us that you (our missionaries) are not called for who you are, but for who you can become. The gospel of Jesus Christ, which we gladly proclaim to all who will listen, invites us to change. The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides every one of us – no matter our weaknesses, our frailties or our addictions – the enabling power to change. Elder Bednar has taught that, “We can proclaim and teach with power only that which we are striving to become” (Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary, pg. 3).
My prayer for each one of my missionaries is that they experience, during their mission, the enabling power of applying the Atonement in their own life and exercising “real intent” in order to change what needs to be changed so that they can become what the Lord would have them become.
Mentor of Champions Who Embrace Change