Repentance takes change. Becoming takes change. Perfection takes change.
Making a mighty change within ourselves is a process—a spiritual process—and a change of heart. As we look at this process of changing and becoming, we find that the possibility and degree of our change relies on many factors: humility, which opens our hearts to knowledge and change; understanding and appreciation, which give us the purpose to change; gratitude, which is the catalyst to change; and the love of God, which is the enabling power of change through the Atonement of our Savior. Each of these steps is a building block in the process of change. And with the help of these things, when we change we will change for the better.
A great example of righteous change is observed in the people of King Benjamin, and his address reveals six important lessons that can help us achieve lasting and eternal change.
1. Spiritual Change Occurs When We Have Love, Faith, and Respect for our Leaders.
King Benjamin is the perfect example of one who was loved, respected, and trusted by his people. He had credibility, therefore when the people came to hear his masterful sermon, they believed his words, saying “Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).
Only when we love, have faith in, trust, and respect our prophets will we hearken to their words. This element of change applies not only to prophets, but all who strive to teach the Lord’s truths. When we respect and trust anyone who is a true messenger of light and truth, we will listen to them and increase our chances for change. Whether they are prophets or local leaders and teachers, they can become the conduits through which the Holy Spirit aids us in bringing about a mighty change in our hearts.
2. Change is Heightened Because of Our Need for Redemption.
King Benjamin helped the people come to understand their fallen and sinful state and their great need to be redeemed. “And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified” (Mosiah 4:2).
Recognizing our fallen state and the necessity of redemption creates an overwhelming need for the Lord’s help. Guilt for our sins touches our hearts, and we are moved by it to feel godly sorrow, even a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Our godly sorrow leads us to Christ and His redeeming power through repentance.
3. Change is More Rapid When We Understand Our Divine Nature and Self-Worth.
King Benjamin’s people were given a special name because they were special. “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters” (Mosiah 5:7-8).
Learning who we really are and what we are destined to become can empower us to act with greater intensity and increased dedication. The Young Women’s theme speaks of our divine nature with testimony and conviction. We are all children of God. We should look inward upon the eternal intelligence and spirit we possess and discern our relationship with God our Father as that of a loving father and His children. And because we are His children, we can grow to be like Him.
4. Change Encourages Us to Act and Not Be Acted Upon.
We are designed to act and not be acted upon. We need to be proactive doers of the word, both responsible and accountable. Remember that “the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:26; emphasis added).
King Benjamin’s people were admonished to yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and . . . [become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his Father” (Mosiah 3:19). And they did!
We are to act on the revelations we receive from God. We receive light and truth through the word of God to inspire and motivate us to make good choices. Agency is supreme and holds within it our power: the power to choose to change, to choose to follow Christ, and to choose to do good.
5. Change Will Come as We Embrace God’s Plan.
When King Benjamin’s people recognized the value and importance of his message, they accepted it as their standard of values (see Mosiah 4:2). What we value we take care of. “And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come” (Mosiah 4:11).
The plan of redemption, happiness, and exaltation is our Father’s plan. When we accept and live the perfect plan of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes our value system for life: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (3 Nephi 13:21; Matthew 6:21). Whatever the heart is concerned with, the mind follows. And action follows soon after. To set our hearts upon eternal values protects us against wallowing in earth-bound pleasures. We should look at the feelings of our hearts in any effort to change; we will put value upon the things of Christ if we want to be like Him.
6. Change is Solidified with Commitment to God.
King Benjamin’s people make their commitments through their covenants. “And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days” (Mosiah 5:5).
The sixth principle implied in change is commitment. We first have to believe in Christ and exercise faith in Him, then we make commitments through covenants with our Heavenly Father that make the difference in our eternal lives. We must then stand by God no matter who or what opposes us. Standing firm in our covenants leads us back to the presence of God the Father through our Savior Jesus Christ. And the Lord is bound to us as we are faithful in keeping our covenants.
Explore these steps for change in more detail in Brother Pinegar's new book A Mighty Change.
Does the constant ebb and flow of change leave you feeling a little unsteady? From commonplace changes to the monumental moments that alter your path, it is impossible to move through this mortal existence unchanged—and in truth, our eternal progression depends on our willingness to be molded and refined by life’s ups and downs. Perhaps the most important changes we can make are those that bring us closer to our Father in Heaven: a change of perspective, a change of desire, a change of heart.