On November 2, 2011, Thomas S. Monson spoke to students at Brigham Young University. Thomas Monson is the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is also their prophet. The members of this church are sometimes referred to as Mormons, an acceptable nickname for the people, but not for the religion.
President Monson advised his listeners, who filled the Marriot Center on campus, to become examples of the believers, as counseled by the apostle Paul in the Bible:
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Paul also called on us to be a light unto the world. President Monson defined light as something that illuminates. When we are examples of righteousness, we illuminate a dark world.
Every person is given the light of Christ, which helps us to discern truth when we hear it. Moroni, a prophet whose writings are found in the Book of Mormon, taught a similar truth:
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God” (Moroni 7:19).
President Monson said many people have let outside influences dim their lights until they are almost out, and we must be careful not to let that happen. We have a responsibility to keep our light strong so it can shine for others. We need to strengthen our testimonies and recognize our reliance on God. Too many think they are in need of nothing greater than themselves.
President Monson shared a story of Clayton Christiansen, a well-known professor at Harvard. HE received a scholarship to Oxford after leaving Brigham Young University. He realized it would be hard to live the gospel at Oxford, given the demands for meetings and activities the scholarship demanded. He had read the Book of Mormon seven times, but felt he had not yet received an answer as to whether or not it was true. He felt he needed to know the church was true in order to remain strong in the church during this time. Previously, he had only read the Book of Mormon when assigned to do so, and his goal had merely been to complete the assignment. He decided he needed his own testimony, not one based on his parents’ faith. He decided to read the Book of Mormon every night from eleven to midnight. He didn’t know if he could afford to spend a full hour on this, but he committed to do it—for himself this time. He began by promising God that if God would tell him it was true, he would dedicate his life to the gospel, and if it wasn’t true, he’d dedicate his life to finding what was true. Night after night he read and prayed. When he finished 2 Nephi, he received a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon. He continued reading each night, and each time the Spirit confirmed to him the truthfulness of the book.
To be a light to others, we first have to strengthen our own testimony, or to gain it, as Clayton Christiansen did. Then we can share that with others. Those who are good examples are witnesses of Christ’s teachings through their own actions and can have a powerful impact on the lives and faith of others. Thomas S. Monson admonished the students to always be known as followers of Christ, not afraid to share their beliefs and always showing others how a follower of Christ lives.
Quoting the Lion King movie, he said, “Look inside yourself. You are more than you have become. Remember who you are.”
Watch the entire address by Thomas S. Monson.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.