Have you ever wondered who you’re supposed to be? What about who you want to be? Better yet, who does God want you to be?
It’s no wonder that we ask ourselves these questions when Sunday School lessons, church talks, Ensign articles, and your Patriarchal blessing always seem to touch on this subject. We even sing it in our hymns! “I’ll be who you want me to be, dear Lord.” Still, the agonizing bombardment of material like this doesn’t end (or start) in our church buildings.
Seemingly endless blog articles, YouTube channels and other opinionated know-it-alls yak in our ears with their ideas and solutions. They assume to know the answer to the kind of person that your community, country, or family needs you to be. Be a fighter, be loving, be positive, be carefree! It’s not that any of these are bad things to be, but in all of the literature I’ve read, there seems to be one kind of person that goes unrecognized and unmentioned: the humble disciple of Christ.
The Woman that God Needs You to Be Right Now
In 1979, President Kimball gave an address to the women of the Church that was profound and inspiring. He, unlike so many of the popular voices we hear today, did mention being a disciple of Jesus Christ. But, as prophets do, he slid in a rather remarkable prophecy about our time and the kind of woman that the Lord needs you to be; a prophecy which makes all the difference.
Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.
Did you catch that? What the Lord is saying through President Kimball is that he needs you to be righteous, articulate, distinct and different. The best part is the promise that as we do this, we will be beacons of light to those around us; we will draw them to the gospel by the way that we live our lives—what a terrific promise! But what do these characteristics mean? And what do they look like demonstrated in our daily lives?
I love how Sharon Eubank described these virtues in her talk Turn on Your Light because she is clear and precise. To paraphrase Sister Eubank, articulateness is being able to clearly express how we feel about something and why. Like Peter said:
“…sanctify the Lord in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
We need to be able to express what we believe and why we believe it. Long gone are the days when we can ride on the coat tails of someone else’s testimony or justify the reason of our faith by saying “I just do.” In an increasingly polarized and complex world, it’s absolutely essential to work toward having a testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and their gospel. We need to reason with the gospel, ask questions, and sometimes, wrestle with the answers.
Understanding why you believe something takes time, introspection, and a willingness to challenge certain beliefs. Sometimes delving into what we believe and why can be overwhelming and scary, but if we hold fast to the faith and testimonies that we have it doesn’t have to be as scary or as daunting. In fact, the process of understanding the reasons behind our belief can actually increase our faith and our faithfulness! When we have a reason to believe something then our willingness to stay when things get tough is strengthened. Our ability and desire to share the gospel also increases.
Ok, let’s have an authentic and truly honest moment here. Do you get confused about what being righteous means? I sure do—especially when I consider what it means in the context of our church’s current (and past) culture. ? Under that context, it’s nearly synonymous with being perfect, with doing the right thing all the time. But seriously, who can do that? Only Jesus, that’s who.
So let’s get on the same page here and strip away our cultural expectations and the nuances associated with being righteous. To echo Sister Eubank again:
“Being righteous…means developing an inner connection with God, repenting of our sins and mistakes, and freely helping others.”
Need I say more? Being righteous isn’t as difficult as we imagine it to be. It’s about being a good person and helping others because that what Christ does. So being righteous is really more about the process of becoming like our Savior, rather than being Him. And when we are acting in this kind of authentic way, the light of Christ shines brightly. People around us can see Him working with us and through us; they see His power and are drawn to it.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “distinct” as:
distinguishable to the eye or mind as being discrete or not the same
This has a lot of ties to the final attribute (being different) that we’ll talk about, but the two aren’t the same. Bear with me as we explore together the differences. Sister Eubank talks about being distinct in the context of how we live the gospel. She says that the restored gospel is distinct, but we also need to be distinct about how we live it.
Sister Eubank is NOT saying that we should be extreme in the way that we live the gospel as a way to differentiate ourselves. Rather, being distinct means being intentional about the way that we live our covenants. The power of Jesus Christ accompanies us when we live purposefully instead of just going through the motions. Intentionality begs us to answer the question of why we obey commandments and encourages us to be a little truer to our beliefs. Living in such harmony is noticeable to others; it distinguishes you from the crowd that either floats along or wanders around.
Lastly, Heavenly Father wants us to be different. We could build a skyscraper with the number of talks that have been given about how we need to be different from the world. As members of the Church, we live by different standards. Be it in the type of clothing we wear or the way that we expect people to act. In most things (hopefully in all things), we choose to live apart from the world’s trends and fads. But why is that?
Well, maybe this idea has less to do with appearing more righteous than others and more to do with missionary work. President Kimball prophesied that many of the good women of the world would join the Church to the degree that the good women of the Church reflected the 4 attributes we’ve discussed. That’s because when we are clearly distinguishable in the eyes and minds of other people as followers of Christ, then we make it easier for these sincere seekers to find Him. Combine this with righteous living, articulateness in our expressions of belief, and being distinct, and the pathway to Heavenly Father can be a pretty easy road to see!
So look no further, my friends, for who God needs and/or wants you to be. He needs disciples who are articulate, righteous, distinct and different to aid Him in bringing to pass His greatest work. And what a work it is!