One of the most effective ways to teach the world about Christianity is to be an example. When we live our lives, we are
preaching a sermon about our beliefs, and others may judge Jesus Christ by our actions if we’ve taken on ourselves His name. Thomas S. Monson is president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are often called Momons. He often speaks of the power of being an example. Following are some of his thoughts on the subject, beginning with an explanation of why we need our own examples to follow, and ending with the ultimate example of how to live.
Some may question, But what is the value of such an illustrious list of heroes and heroines, even a private Hall of Fame? I answer: When we obey as did Adam, endure as did Job, teach as did Paul, testify as did Peter, serve as did Nephi, give of ourselves as did the Prophet Joseph, respond as did Ruth, honor as did Mary, and live as did Christ, we are born anew. All power becomes ours. Cast off forever is the old self, and with it defeat, despair, doubt, and disbelief. To a newness of life we come—a life of faith, hope, courage, and joy. No task looms too large. No responsibility weighs too heavily. No duty is a burden. All things become possible.
Thomas S. Monson, “My Personal Hall of Fame,” Ensign, Jul 1991, 2
Third, be an example in charity.
From Corinthians comes the beautiful truth, “Charity never faileth.”
Satisfying to the soul is the ready response the Church has made to disasters of nature, such as in Mozambique, Madagascar, Venezuela, and many other locations. Frequently we have arrived first on the scene following such disasters, and with the most help. There are other organizations which likewise respond in a generous fashion.
What is charity? Moroni, in writing a few of the words of his father, Mormon, recorded, “Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.”
One who exemplified charity in his life was President George Albert Smith. Immediately following World War II, the Church had a drive to amass warm clothing to ship to suffering Saints in Europe. Elder Harold B. Lee and Elder Marion G. Romney took President George Albert Smith to Welfare Square in Salt Lake City to view the results. They were impressed by the generous response of the membership of the Church. They watched President Smith observing the workers as they packaged this great volume of donated clothing and shoes. They saw tears running down his face. After a few moments, President George Albert Smith removed his own new overcoat and said, “Please ship this also.”
The Brethren said to him, “No, President, no; don’t send that; it’s cold and you need your coat.”
But President Smith would not take it back; and so his coat, with all the others, was sent to Europe, where the nights were long and dark and food and clothing were scarce. Then the shipments arrived. Joy and thanksgiving were expressed aloud, as well as in secret prayer.
Thomas S. Monson, “Your Eternal Home,” Ensign, May 2000, 52
To you who are fathers of boys or who are leaders of boys, I say, strive to be the kind of example the boys need. The father, of course, should be the prime example, and the boy who is blessed with a worthy father is fortunate indeed. Even an exemplary family, however, with diligent and faithful father and mother, can use all the supportive help they can get from good men who genuinely care. There is also the boy who has no father or whose father is not currently providing the type of example needed. For that boy, the Lord has provided a network of helpers within the Church—bishops, advisers, teachers, Scoutmasters, home teachers. When the Lord’s program is in effect and properly working, no young man in the Church should be without the influence of good men in his life.
The effectiveness of an inspired bishop, adviser, or teacher has very little to do with the outward trappings of power or an abundance of this world’s goods. The leaders who have the most influence are usually those who set hearts afire with devotion to the truth, who make obedience to duty seem the essence of manhood, who transform some ordinary routine occurrence so that it becomes a vista where we see the person we aspire to be.
Thomas S. Monson, “Examples of Righteousness,” Ensign, May 2008, 65–68
May we ever be guided by the supreme Exemplar, even the son of Mary, the Savior Jesus Christ—whose very life provided a perfect model for us to follow.
Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as a mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He blessed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life.
What was the reaction to His message of mercy, His words of wisdom, His lessons of life? There were a precious few who appreciated Him. They bathed His feet. They learned His word. They followed His example.
Then there were those who denied Him. When asked by Pilate, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” they cried, “Crucify him.” They mocked Him. They gave Him vinegar to drink. They reviled Him. They smote Him with a reed. They did spit upon Him. They crucified Him.
Down through the generations of time, the message from Jesus has been the same. To Peter and Andrew by the shores of the beautiful Sea of Galilee, He said, “Follow me.” To Philip of old came the call, “Follow me.” To the Levite who sat at receipt of customs came the instruction, “Follow me.” And to you and to me, if we but listen, will come that same beckoning invitation, “Follow me.”
My prayer today is that we shall do so. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Thomas S. Monson, “Models to Follow,” Ensign, Nov 2002, 60