Monday, March 18, 2013

One Step Closer to the Savior

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

One Step Closer to the Savior, by Russell T. Osguthorpe
Sunday School General President

As a green missionary, my companion and I had dinner in the home of a friendly bishop. As we shared a gospel message with the family over dinner, the conversation somehow turned to the view of the mountains near Weiser, Idaho that we saw out his front window. I don't remember how, but this fine bishop told us that whenever he looks out his front window, he's reminded of his mission and the need to help others come to Christ. While I don't remember the specifics of what led up to this conversation, I remember what he said next:

Too often missionaries equate baptisms with success. While leading converts into the waters of baptism is an important aspect of missionary success, it is not how success is measured. The goal of each missionary should be on helping others come closer to Christ, one step at a time. When you are blessed to teach people about Christ assist them in their baptismal covenants, please realize that they were likely led closer to Christ, step-by-step, by unseen friends and associates. Likewise, when you are serving others who don't become baptized, it doesn't mean that you failed so long as you tried to bring them one step closer to Christ.

I think of this bishop's words fairly often—they've really stuck with me—but I admit that I've historically only thought of the steps taken closer to Christ leading up to baptism. President Osguthorpe reminded me that there are more steps each of us can take:

When we learn and teach His word in His way, we accept His invitation to "come, follow me." We follow Him one step at a time. With each step, we draw closer to the Savior. We change. The Lord knew that spiritual growth did not happen all at once. It comes gradually. Each time we accept His invitation and choose to follow Him, we progress along the pathway to full conversion. 

Conversion is the goal of all gospel learning and teaching. Conversion is not a onetime event. It is a lifelong quest to become more like the Savior.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I hadn't made the connection of that life-changing conversation with that bishop in Weiser to my efforts to be Christlike. It's so obvious now that I've realized it!

I want to be like Christ. I want to help others come unto Christ, too. I want to remember the importance of each step closer to Christ that I take, and that others take.

In addition to remembering the conversation I had while gazing on the mountains in Weiser, I want to remember how President Osguthorpe expanded my understanding:

We can all learn, teach, and live His word in His way by taking one step closer to the Savior. As we do, we will become truly converted.

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