As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from around the world prepare for the new year, many are setting goals for their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development.
While these goals may be inspired by any number of sources, prophets and other Church leaders mentioned during the October 2014 General Conference some specific changes people can make to improve their lives and their spirituality.
In his address, Elder Elder Quentin L. Cook said, “I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.”
Here are 15 goals from the prophets to help you center your life on Christ during 2015.
1. Avoid contention
Today’s world—especially the online social media world—is fraught with arguments and differing opinions. Church members can emulate Christ by being peacemakers even when they disagree with others.
“On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught. “Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. . . . We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence.”
2. Find more meaning in temple service
With a new temple set for dedication in Utah County during 2015, now is a great time to recommit to meaningful temple worship. Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there. While you are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning. The temple is one of the best places to come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek Him there. Remember that many more blessings come from providing your own family names in the temple.”
3. Take care of your body
Physical well-being is closely connected to mental, emotional and spiritual health.
“Take responsibility for your own physical well-being,” Elder Jörg Klebingat taught. “Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! … [P]lease use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves.“
4. Learn more about the gospel
Before Church members can fully live the gospel, they must understand it. Elder M. Russell Ballard taught this important truth:
“In searching the scriptures and the words of past and current apostles and prophets, we should focus on studying, living, and loving the doctrine of Christ,” he taught. “In addition to developing the habit of personal scripture reading, we need to be like the sons of Mosiah and give ourselves ‘to much prayer, and fasting.’ It seems that these things which are not easily measured are of great importance. Stay focused on these simple things, and avoid becoming distracted.”
5. Be a better parent
Children are the future of our homes, the Church and the world. Therefore, the role of parents is of paramount importance.
“It is my firm conviction that there has never been a period in my many years of life when our Father in Heaven’s children have needed the guiding hand of faithful, devoted parents more,” Elder L. Tom Perry taught. “… We must find within ourselves that same determined spirit and overcome the challenges we face with the same spirit of sacrifice. We must instill in future generations an ever stronger reliance on the teachings of our Lord and Savior.”
6. Improve personal scripture study
Prophets have repeatedly counseled that scripture study is essential to gaining a testimony and maintaining the companionship of the Spirit.
“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!”
7. Serve someone every day
The small acts of service we offer may seem insignificant, but Elder Jeffery R. Holland taught that when we do what we can, our offering will make a difference.
“A journalist once questioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her hopeless task of rescuing the destitute in that city,” Elder Holland said. “He said that, statistically speaking, she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. This remarkable little woman shot back that her work was about love, not statistics. Notwithstanding the staggering number beyond her reach, she said she could keep the commandment to love God and her neighbor by serving those within her reach with whatever resources she had.”
8. Have more meaningful prayer
Improving prayer habits can improve every facet of life. Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life. Share with Him your full range of feelings and experiences.”
9. Increase your fast offering
When speaking about caring for the poor, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland asked Church members to be “as generous as circumstances permit” in their contributions.
“Cherish that sacred privilege [to fast] at least monthly, and be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering and other humanitarian, educational, and missionary contributions,” he said. “I promise that God will be generous to you, and those who find relief at your hand will call your name blessed forever.”
“Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out.” —Elder Jörg Klebingat, Of the Seventy
10. Repent daily
Repentance has some negative connotations, but daily repentance helps disciples of Christ become closer to the Savior.
“Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out,” Elder Jörg Klebingat said. “Embrace the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance as things that are to be welcomed and applied daily according to the Great Physician’s orders. Establish an attitude of ongoing, happy, joyful repentance by making it your lifestyle of choice. … Keeping your eyes on the Savior, care more about what He thinks of you, and let the consequences follow.”
11. Have Family Home Evening
As Church members strengthen their own testimonies, teaching family members gospel truths will increase their understanding and increase the influence of the Spirit in family members’ lives.
“Be cautious not to make your family home evening just an afterthought of a busy day,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “Decide that on Monday night your family will be together at home for the evening. Do not let employment demands, sports, extracurricular activities, homework, or anything else become more important than that time you spend together at home with your family. The structure of your evening is not as important as the time invested.”
12. Forgive quickly
People who forgive others relieve themselves of heavy burdens that decrease happiness. Immediate forgiveness increases joy and strengthens relationships.
“Forgive everyone, everything, all the time, or at least strive to do so, thus allowing forgiveness into your own life,” Elder Jörg Klebingat said. “Don’t hold grudges, don’t be easily offended, forgive and forget quickly, and don’t ever think that you are exempt from this commandment. Spiritual confidence increases when you know that the Lord knows that you bear no ill feelings toward another soul.”
13. Maintain a clear vision
As Church members set new goals and resolve to become better, it’s important to keep the end goal in mind. Elder Carlos A. Godoy taught this important principle: “Making decisions that can impact our lives and those we love without having the broader vision of their consequences can bring some risks. However, if we project the possible consequences of these decisions into the future, we can see with greater clarity the best path to take in the present. Understanding who we are, why we are here, and what the Lord expects from us in this life will help give us the broader vision we need. … We have the scriptures, the temple, living prophets, our patriarchal blessings, inspired leaders, and, above all, the right to receive personal revelation to guide our decisions.”
14. Evaluate yourself honestly
As people improve their lives and become more committed disciples, constant self-evaluation helps the process continue. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave this helpful formula for self-evaluation:
“[H]ow can we shine the pure light of God’s truth into our souls and see ourselves as He sees us? May I suggest that the holy scriptures and the talks given at general conference are an effective mirror we can hold up for self-examination. As you hear or read the words of the ancient and modern prophets, refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question: ‘Lord, is it I?'”
15. Emulate Jesus Christ
The best goals and resolutions lead Church members toward Jesus Christ. President Thomas S. Monson taught, “As we strive to place Christ at the center of our lives by learning His words, by following His teachings, and by walking in His path, He has promised to share with us the eternal life that He died to gain. There is no higher end than this, that we should choose to accept His discipline and become His disciples and do His work throughout our lives. Nothing else, no other choice we make, can make of us what He can.”