While being good is an excellent thing to desire, we tried to teach him that God would like to hear what Jacob meant by being good.
To be clear, Jacob was being good. But he felt something was missing. So we probed. What were the good things he was doing?
He was regularly:
- Reading scriptures
- Attending church
- Going to Seminary
Unfortunately, these conversations happened many years ago and it was only recently that I happened upon the answer that could have help him avoid so much frustration.
When Christ first appeared to the Nephites and Lamanites, just before He taught them the gospel, He prepared the people for His new teachings by first giving what we call the Doctrine of Christ.
The Doctrine of Christ has five parts:
- Holy Ghost
Now it would seem that these five components create nothing more than a checklist similar to what caused Jacob so much frustration. However, those whom Christ was teaching were already converted to the gospel. They were the more righteous.
With that in mind, I feel we need look at the Doctrine of Christ not as a specific list of things to do. Rather we should view this as a pattern. Christ loves to teach in patterns for they allow us to apply His doctrine to fit diverse situations.
By using the idea of a pattern, I came up with the following;
- Faith = Desire
- Repentance = Willingness to change
- Baptism = Doing
- Holy Ghost = Gaining God’s approval
- Endure = Repeat
For example, we can use this pattern to help us improve our Sabbath day observance.
- We have the desire to get more out of the Sabbath.
- We look at our current Sabbath day activities to see where we can do better. Maybe we choose to read the Ensign for 30 minutes.
- We do what we decided would improve our Sabbath observances. God likes the doing.
- After following through with our action, we prayerfully evaluate how our plan impacted our Sabbath day. This way we stand a greater chance at feeling God’s acceptance of our efforts.
- We commit to continue this action and prepare ourselves to improve in some other area.
Rather than a checklist, the Doctrine of Christ becomes iterative, like a nut on a bolt.
Each time we go through this divine pattern, we turn the nut one twist towards its destination. Now our application of the Doctrine of Christ becomes a pattern for slow and steady progress as we seek to become more Christ like.
I only wish I could have taught this simple lesson to Jacob during his youthful quest to be good.