What does it really mean to be a man? The modern world expects a man who is focused on himself, on career, and on worldly success. The man of today is not expected by society to excel or to have ambition. The modern man must be in peak physical condition and it is acceptable that these “men” be immoral in their personal and intimate relationships. These worldly expectations are not, however, what the Lord expects of us, all of us on this planet, as His children. The following is meant to explore the traits needed by modern men to become modern men of God. Please feel free to express your thoughts and feelings in comments below.
In this video, Elder Christofferson, an apostle of Jesus Christ, shares a story about his father and mother.
- “What characteristics of Elder Christofferson’s father exemplify manhood?”
- “What does it mean to be a men in the eyes of our Father in Heaven?”
From The Family: A Proclamation to The World we learn the following.
- “What are the duties of a man?”
In the same talk as shown in the above video, Elder Christofferson said the following:
- “What does this quote tell us about the need to become such a man?”
Now that we’ve thought about what the traits of a God-like man are, how are we supposed to attain those traits? We can’t simply decide one morning that we’re going to be loving or patient or considerate of others. We need to know what the actual actions we should take are to help us access the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and make these traits a part of our character. We can learn a lot from the example of Nephi in the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi 2:16, Nephi describes himself as “exceedingly young” and “large in stature.” Compare this with the description he gives of himself in 1 Nephi 4:31 “I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord.” What happens in the two intervening chapters that allows Nephi to change from describing himself essentially as a boy to describing himself as having become a man? A careful examination of several of the verses in these chapters will help to illuminate the character and actions of Nephi that led to this change into a man of god.
Nephi begins his progression in 1 Nephi 2:16. Nephi says that he had “great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” The important things to take away from this verse are that Nephi had great desire and that he acted on that desire by not only praying but by crying unto the Lord. It is also important to note that he allowed his heart to be softened by the Lord. Having a soft heart is not what the world expects of its men, but it is absolutely what the Lord requires of men that can serve Him. Nephi also believes the words of his father who in addition to being his father is also his priesthood leader and prophetic leader. The result of this is that he is not rebellious. Not being rebellious doesn’t mean that he strictly or blindly conformed to a specific regimen of tasks but rather that he was willing to accept these tasks on faith and follow through to see the results. The overarching principle of the gospel that Nephi is demonstrating is faith, faith in Jesus Christ.
Nephi continues to demonstrate his faith in 1 Nephi 2:17-18. In these verses he shares his testimony of what he has experienced with his brothers. He first shares this with his brother Sam who believes what he says. He then shares it with Laman and Lemuel who characteristically reject the testimony of Nephi. Although they reject his teachings, Nephi is undeterred and continues to pray for his brothers because he is “grieved because of the hardness of their hearts.”
As Nephi continues to gain and exercise faith in Jesus Christ, he begins to have trials of his faith. The first trial comes in 1 Nephi 3:1-4 where he is commanded of the Lord, through his father and prophet Lehi, to return to Jerusalem to get the brass plates, their scriptures. At first brush this may seem like a very easy thing for Nephi because of where he already was in his spiritual progression. However, how often do we as children of God who are entitled to personal revelation decide not to follow the direction of our leaders thinking that we know better because of our own spirituality. It takes great courage on the part of Nephi to accept this commandment even when he was personally receiving great divine revelation at the same time.
Nephi does follow the direction given through his leaders. He travels to Jerusalem and asks Laban, the caretaker of the plates, if he will give the plates to himself, Nephi, and his brothers. Nephi and his brothers are thrown out of Laban’s house and accused of being thieves. Nephi, is still undeterred. He quickly decides to go to their fathers house and get the gold they left behind and attempt to buy the records from Laban. This attempt also fails and Laban steals their belongings and throws them out again. It would be easy at this point for Nephi to give up and decide that all that could be done had been done. His brothers do, in fact, give up and start to beat Nephi in a cave. An angel appears to them and tells them to stop but as soon as the angel leaves the brothers are back to their bickering and complaining. How difficult would this be do endure? Nephi had done his best and failed twice and even after an angel appears his brethren still do not support him. Even in this extreme trial of faith, Nephi comes through and decides to try again.
What gives Nephi the strength to go on at this point? What reasons does he give his brothers for having this type of faith? What does this have to do with scripture study? (1 Nephi 4:1-3)
After going back to Jerusalem, Nephi is told by the Lord to kill Laban who he finds drunk in the streets. Nephi reluctantly follows this command and obtains the record. The trial of faith is complete and Nephi has become a man. The pattern Nephi teaches us in these chapters is important to note. First he has desires, he is obedient, and he prays. After this he willingly accepts the trials of his faith not once, not twice, but as many times as it takes for the needed results to be obtained. Gordon B. Hinckley, a prophet of the Lord, describes again the traits that are obtained by following such a pattern.
The song “Rise Up, O Men of God” summarizes the message of this lesson
I know that becoming men of God is possible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This faith can be cultivated by diligent study of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. I know that the Book of Mormon has a power in it that will come to us as soon as we begin a serious study of it. I also know that Christ lives and that he loves us. We are children of God and he will bless us as men as we strive to attain manhood as He expects us to.