This excerpt originally ran on LDS Living in December 2019.
You will have goals that are great, greater, and greatest. Great goals I relate to temporal attainment. You will continue to set great goals for yourself and achieve them one by one.
Greater goals I relate to developing your attributes of character. Attributes of character are worthy of our attention as we strive to become whom we ought to be.
Heading the list of greater goals would be the attribute of love, including its related qualities of kindness, compassion, courtesy, civility, and mercy. Fostered first in the family, love is centered at home. The most important work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home.
Gratitude is another greater goal. We have much for which we should be thankful. Serving many years as a cardiac surgeon, I developed a deep sense of gratitude for my heart, and for yours. Each organ of the body is truly remarkable. Even though our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, our broken bones can mend and become strong once again. Skin lacerations can heal. A leak in the circulation can seal itself.
Gratefully we acknowledge that, as children of a loving Father in Heaven, our inheritance is sacred and our potential is infinite. Gratitude for our countless blessings is a greater goal.
Integrity is another greater goal. Integrity includes virtue, cleanliness, and honesty. In our world, there is so much of deceit. We learn of cheating in the classrooms, cheating in business, cheating in marriage, and so on. Even though these acts may not be discovered by others, the soul of a cheater suffers. Self-respect vanishes, conscience is warped, and character crumbles.
If education is a great goal, a greater goal would be wisdom. One can attain education without knowledge and knowledge without wisdom. The Old Testament reminds us that “all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.”1 Such wisdom comes to you who know and apply the principles and eternal doctrine of Jesus Christ in your daily lives.
Wisdom includes attention to prophetic warnings. Today’s prophets warn that pornography, infidelity, and immorality are all tools of the adversary. They will destroy you physically and spiritually. Satan’s objective is to hook you and make you miserable, even as he is.2 Shun these traps now and your future will be brighter.
Other greater goals include “faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence,”3 all of which are attainable attributes, exemplified by the Lord.
One goal, and one goal alone, should become your greatest goal. What is that? It is the goal of eternal life. That goal is God’s goal. That goal is God’s glory.4 The Lord has decreed that “eternal life ... is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”5 This gift is a conditional gift. One must qualify for it by keeping the commandments of God and enduring to the end. That end includes the endowment and sealing ordinances of the holy temple. Through the blessings, ordinances, and covenants of the temple, families can be together forever.6
So, as you pursue your great, greater, and greatest goals, what manner of living will you choose?
As a Saint of the noble birthright, you are expected to live differently than others. You know what Paul said to young Timothy: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”7 Choose to think and to act differently from those of the world. Choose to look different and see what an influence for good you will become.