At a recent conference for Mormon women, Thomas S. Monson encouraged women to be kinder to each other and to avoid criticism. Following is a quote from that sermon and several thoughts from previous talks on the subject of not judging others.
Each Person is Unique
My dear sisters, each of you is unique. You are different from each other in many ways. There are those of you who are married. Some of you stay at home with your children, while others of you work outside your homes. Some of you are empty-nesters. There are those of you who are married but do not have children. There are those who are divorced, those who are widowed. Many of you are single women. Some of you have college degrees; some of you do not. There are those who can afford the latest fashions and those who are lucky to have one appropriate Sunday outfit. Such differences are almost endless. Do these differences tempt us to judge one another?
Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” The Savior has admonished, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” I ask: Can we love one another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer—with Mother Teresa—“No; we cannot” (General Relief Society Meeting, September 25, 2010).
Courage to Refrain From Judging
May I speak first about the courage to refrain from judging others. Oh, you may ask, “Does this really take courage?” And I would reply that I believe there are many times when refraining from judgment—or gossip or criticism, which are certainly akin to judgment—takes an act of courage.
Unfortunately, there are those who feel it necessary to criticize and to belittle others. You have, no doubt, been with such people, as you will be in the future. My dear young friends, we are not left to wonder what our behavior should be in such situations. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior declared, “Judge not.” At a later time He admonished, “Cease to find fault one with another.” It will take real courage when you are surrounded by your peers and feeling the pressure to participate in such criticisms and judgments to refrain from joining in.
I would venture to say that there are young women around you who, because of your unkind comments and criticism, are often left out. It seems to be the pattern, particularly at this time in your lives, to avoid or to be unkind to those who might be judged different, those who don’t fit the mold of what we or others think they should be.
The Savior said:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another. …
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Thomas S. Monson, “May You Have Courage,” Liahona, May 2009, 123–27
The Danger of Labels
Sometimes cities and nations bear special labels of identity. Such was a cold and very old city in eastern Canada. The missionaries called it “Stony Kingston.” There had been but one convert to the Church in six years, even though missionaries had been continuously assigned there during the entire interval. No one baptized in Kingston. Just ask any missionary who labored there. Time in Kingston was marked on the calendar like days in prison. A missionary transfer to another place—any place—would be uppermost in thoughts, even in dreams.
While I was praying about and pondering this sad dilemma, for my responsibility then as a mission president required that I pray and ponder about such things, my wife called to my attention an excerpt from the book A Child’s Story of the Prophet Brigham Young. She read aloud that Brigham Young (1801–77) entered Kingston, Ontario, on a cold and snow-filled day. He labored there about 30 days and baptized 45 souls. Here was the answer. If the missionary Brigham Young could accomplish this harvest, so could the missionaries of today.
Without providing an explanation, I withdrew the missionaries from Kingston, that the cycle of defeat might be broken. Then the carefully circulated word: “Soon a new city will be opened for missionary work, even the city where Brigham Young proselyted and baptized 45 persons in 30 days.” The missionaries speculated as to the location. Their weekly letters pleaded for the assignment to this Shangri-la. More time passed. Then four carefully selected missionaries—two of them new, two of them experienced—were chosen for this high adventure. The members of the small branch pledged their support. The missionaries pledged their lives. The Lord honored both.
In the space of three months, Kingston became the most productive city of the Canadian Mission. The grey limestone buildings still stood; the city had not altered its appearance; the population remained constant. The change was one of attitude. The label of doubt yielded to the label of faith.
Thomas S. Monson, “Labels,” Liahona, Sep 2000, 2
Patience With Young People
A proper perspective of our young men is absolutely essential for those called to serve them. They are young, pliable, eager, and filled with unlimited energy. Sometimes they make mistakes. I remember a meeting where we of the First Presidency and the Twelve were reviewing a youthful mistake made by a missionary. The tone was serious and rather critical, when Elder LeGrand Richards said, “Now, brethren, if the good Lord wanted to put a forty-year-old head on a nineteen-year-old body, He would have done so. But He didn’t. He placed a nineteen-year-old head on a nineteen-year-old body, and we should be a bit more understanding.” The mood of the group changed, the problem was solved, and we moved on with the meeting.
Thomas S. Monson, “‘Called to Serve’,” Ensign, Oct 1991, 46