Quotes on Example

See also: Esther 4:14; Matt. 5:16

I have known many members of your church – and I have never known one who was not a good citizen and a fine, wholesome person – but David O. McKay embodies, more than anyone that I have ever known, the virtues and the drawing-power of your church.

David McKay, almost thou persuadest me to be a Mormon!  And knowing what family life means to the Latter-day Saints, I cannot speak or think of President McKay without thinking too of that gracious and spirited young lady who is his wife. — Filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille in Commencement Address at BYU

The spirit of this place is so evident.  It is all enveloping.  It’s all around me.  I feel buoyed up by it. This has been one of the things I felt very strongly about being here.  I  didn’t realize that I was going to be hit by this extraordinary spirit.  I haven’t experienced this before.  It’s quite unique, people doing something for the love of it. — Angela Lansbury about singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

We teach what we are.  Our conduct may determine whether those we teach accept or reject our words.  President Spencer W. Kimball has admonished:  “You will do all you teach your youth to do; to fast, to bear testimony, to pay tithing, to attend all proper meetings, to attend temple sessions in due time, to keep the Sabbath holy, to give church service ungrudgingly, to have home evenings and family prayers, and to keep solvent, and be honest and full of integrity.” — President Spencer W. Kimball

Children learn to copy the patterns of their parents.  If parents honor the Sabbath day, if they go to church, if they serve faithfully in their callings with no criticism of leaders, if they heed the Word of Wisdom, if they cheerfully pay their tithes and offerings, if they honor covenants made in the temple, and other commandments are lived and taught, children will receive a priceless foundation.  Sons and daughters will treat their wives and husbands in the future as they see their parents treat each other.  We can indeed make our home a bit of heaven here, as President McKay stated.  We also set the groundwork for our children’s homes to be so too. — Elder Albert Choules, Jr., Ensign, May 1994, p. 14

All of us give our lives daily for what we believe is important.  Those with whom we associate are silently assessing us, our values and character traits. — Elder J. Richard Clarke, “Hold Up Your Light,” Ensign, May 1985, p. 74

How wonderful it would be for every holder of the priesthood if he knew that the Lord knew he could count on him because of the way he lived.  I’d like to say today that it is a tremendous responsibility for members of this Church to so live that others, seeing their good works, can be led to glorify the Lord’s name. — Elder N. Eldon Tanner, “Remember Who You Are,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 78

The Savior set us the example, always calm, always controlled, radiating something which people could feel as they passed – the woman who touched his garment is an example.  He felt something go from him, that radiation which is divine.

Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil.  It is not alone what he says, it is not alone what he does – it is what he is.  Every man, every person radiates what he or she is.

Every person is a recipient of radiation.  The Savior was conscious of that. Whenever he came into the presence of an individual, he sensed that radiation – whether it was the woman of Samaria with her past life; whether it was the woman who was to be stoned, or the men who were to stone her; whether it was the statesman Nicodemus, or one of the lepers.  He was conscious of the radiation from the individual.  And to a degree so are you, and so am I.  It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us. — President David O. McKay, Improvement Era, 1966, 69:270-71

I cannot urge strongly enough, my brothers and sisters, that we as Latter-day Saints, as people who have been called out of the world and blessed with the light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, work a little hard, stand a little taller, be a little better as representatives of this Church.

We don’t need to be self-righteous.  We don’t need to be arrogant.  We don’t need to be pushy.  We don’t need to be any of those things.  We just need to be exemplary in our lives.  If we would live as we ought to live, the world would come to seek us out, seeing the virtue of that which we have. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign/Rose Park Utah Regional Conference, Feb. 28, 1999

Members of the Church need to influence more than we are influenced.  We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it. . . .

We can live in the world, brothers and sisters, without letting the world into us.  We have the gospel message that can carry men and women buoyantly through the mist of darkness (1 Ne. 8:23) to the source of all light.  We can raise children who have been taught to discern and to make personal righteous decisions.

The Lord does not need a society that hides and isolates itself from the world. Rather, he needs stalwart individuals and families who live exemplary lives in the world and demonstrate that joy and fulfillment come not of the world but through the spirit and the doctrine of Jesus Christ. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, “The Effects of Television,” Ensign, May 1989, p. 80

It is sadly true, as we all know, that many on this planet hunger for bread, but many also hunger deeply to experience the reassuring eloquence of example.  This represents a desperate need that is incumbent upon us to provide as part of our discipleship. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “The Pathway of Discipleship,” BYU, January 4, 1998, p. 5

All of us have seen those we almost envy because they have cultivated a manner that, without even mentioning it, speaks of the beauty of the gospel they have incorporated in their behavior. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, Oct. 2002

Whenever you step over the line in an immoral act or in doing any other evil thing, the Church is that much weaker. . . . When you stand true and faithful, it is that much stronger.  Each one of you counts. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1996, p. 94

As a 17-year-old, I enlisted in the United States Navy and attended boot camp in San Diego, California.  For the first three weeks, one felt as though the navy were trying to kill rather than train him on how to stay alive.

I shall ever remember the first Sunday at San Diego.  The chief petty officer said to us, “Today everybody goes to church.”  We then lined up in formation on the drill ground. The petty officer shouted, “All of you who are Catholics – you meet in Camp Decatur. Forward, march!  And don’t come back until three!”  A large number marched out.  He then said, “All of you who are of the Jewish faith – you meet in Camp Henry. Forward, march! And don’t come back until three!”  A smaller contingent moved out.  Then he said, “The rest of you Protestants meet in the theaters in Camp Farragut.  Forward, march!  And don’t come back until three o’clock!”

There flashed through my mind the thought, “Monson, you’re not Catholic.  You’re not Jewish.  You’re not a Protestant.”  I elected to stand fast.  It seemed as though hundreds of men marched by me.  Then I heard the sweetest words which the petty officer ever uttered in my presence.  He said, “And what do you men call yourselves?”  He used the plural – men.  This was the first time I knew that anyone else was standing behind me on that drill ground. In unison we said, “We’re Mormons.”  He scratched his head, an expression of puzzlement on his face, and said, “Well, go and find somewhere to meet – and don’t come back until three o’clock.”  We marched away.  One could almost count cadence to the rhyme learned in Primary:

Dare to be a Mormon;
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm,
And dare to make it known

 — President Thomas S. Monson, “The Master’s Blueprint,” Ensign, January 2006, p. 7

Sisters, I do not believe that you and I are here at this unique time by accident. I believe that, like Esther of old, we are “come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), when our influence, our example, our strength, and our faith may stand as a bulwark against the rising tide of evil that threatens to engulf our homes, our families, and our loved ones. — Virginia U. Jensen, “Creating Places of Security,” Ensign, November 1997, p. 89

Most of us are modest enough to think that our small candle of example might be too dim to be noticed.  But you and your family are watched more than you may realize. I had the chance in the spring of this year to attend and speak at meetings with nearly 300 ministers and leaders of other churches.  I visited alone with as many as I could.  I asked them why they had been so attentive to my message, which was to recount the origins of the Church, to tell of the young Joseph Smith’s First Vision and of living prophets.  In every case, they gave essentially the same answer.  They told a story of a person or a family – a story of knowing some of you.  One repeated often was of a neighbor family, Latter-day Saints: “They were the finest family I have ever known.”  Often they spoke of some community effort or public response to a disaster where members of the Church worked in a way which to them seemed remarkable.

The people I met at those meetings could not yet recognize the truth in the doctrine, but they had already seen its fruit in your lives, and so they were ready to listen. They were ready to listen to the truths of the Restoration – that families can be sealed forever and that the gospel can change our very natures.  They were ready because of your examples. — President Henry B. Eyring,  Ensign, November 1998, p. 34

We who have received the truth of the everlasting gospel ought not to be satisfied with anything short of the best, and the best is the fullness of the Father’s kingdom; and for that I hope and pray we shall live and set examples in righteousness to all men that none may stumble, that none may falter, that none may turn from the path of righteousness, due to anything that we may do or say. — President Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1923

The things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words – these things are noticed by your children and by others.  They see and learn both the kind and the unkind things we say or do.  Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home. — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Virtue of Kindness,” Liahona, May 2005, pp. 26-28

The moral foundation of our doctrine can be a beacon light to the world and can be a unifying force for both morality and faith in Jesus Christ.  We need to protect our families and be at the forefront together with all people of goodwill in doing everything we can to preserve light, hope, and morality in our communities. — Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Let There Be Light”, Ensign, Nov. 2010, pp. 27-30

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you. — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do. — Anonymous

Jesus said several times, “Come, follow me.”  His was a program of “do what I do,” rather than “do what I say.”  His innate brilliance would have permitted him to put on a dazzling display, but that would have left his followers far behind.  He walked and worked with those he was to serve.  His was not a long-distance leadership.  He was not afraid of close friendships; he was not afraid that proximity to him would disappoint his followers. The leaven of true leadership cannot lift others unless we are with and serve those to be led. — President Spencer W. Kimball, “Jesus: The Perfect Leader,” Ensign, Aug. 1979, p. 5

What did Ammon say?  “Be of good cheer” (Alma 17:31).  Now, we may read this as a story about some shepherd trying to round up some missing sheep, but the message is much more powerful and significant than that. . . . Ammon not only led the force to recapture the sheep, he drove away the evil men who caused the problems; and his heroic efforts persuaded the king to follow him and to follow the Savior.  Ammon teaches us that no matter our circumstances, we can be an example to others, we can lift them, we can inspire them to seek righteousness, and we can bear testimony to all of the power of Jesus Christ. — Elder Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May 1997, p. 82

We need a more peaceful world, growing out of more peaceful families and neighborhoods and communities.  To secure and cultivate such peace, “we must love others, even our enemies as well as our friends.”  The world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Those who are filled with the love of Christ do not seek to force others to do better; they inspire others to do better, indeed inspire them to the pursuit of God.  We need to extend the hand of friendship.  We need to be kinder, more gentle, more forgiving, and slower to anger.  We need to love one another with the pure love of Christ.  May this be our course and our desire. — President Howard W. Hunter, “A More Excellent Way,” Ensign, May 1992

The second example is from the life of Willard Bean, a remarkable man who became known as the “fighting parson.”  In the spring of 1915, Willard and his new bride, Rebecca, were called by President Joseph F. Smith to serve a mission for “five years or longer” in Palmyra, New York.  (Vicki Bean Topliff, Willard Bean, “The Fighting Parson”, Huntington Beach, California, 1981, p. 87. For the account of their life in Palmyra, see pp. 86–131.)  Their task was to occupy the recently acquired Joseph Smith home and farm and to reestablish the Church in the hostile environment which still existed at the time in Palmyra.

The Beans were rebuffed on every front as they settled into the Smith home.  The townspeople would not speak to them or wait on them in their stores.  Passersby would pause in front of the home and shout obscenities.  Their children were assigned to sit in the back corners of the schoolroom and were shunned by the other children in class.

Willard, who was an accomplished athlete and had been a prize-winning boxer, decided to improve public relations by putting on a boxing exhibition in Palmyra.  A ring was set up in an old opera house, and the “fighting parson” challenged all comers to a boxing match.

When the night of the exhibition arrived, the toughest men in Palmyra sat in the first few rows.  One by one they entered the ring, only to be carried out again in a matter of seconds!  This continued until the seventh challenger was similarly disposed.

Brother Bean’s fighting abilities were more spontaneously employed on another occasion as he walked along the unfriendly streets of Palmyra.  A man watering his front lawn one afternoon suddenly turned the hose on Willard and taunted: “I understand you people believe in baptism by immersion.”  The spry, athletic Willard reportedly vaulted over the fence separating them and replied, “Yes, and we also believe in the laying on of hands!”  (Willard Bean, “The Fighting Parson,” p. 14.)

Although Brother Bean’s methods were a little unorthodox and definitely not compatible with the current approved missionary program of the Church, they were nonetheless effective.  The people of Palmyra began begrudgingly to yield and to accept the Beans as the good people they were.  In time, they were invited to participate in local churches and to join the civic organizations of the day.  They established a branch of the Church and helped acquire the Hill Cumorah and the Martin Harris and Peter Whitmer farms.  The “five years or longer” mission to which the prophet had called them stretched to nearly twenty-five years before it concluded.  During that time, the attitude of the people of Palmyra had changed from hostility toward the Beans to toleration, then admiration, and finally to love.  The power of good lives is truly great. — Elder Marlin K. Jensen, “The Power of a Good Life,” General Conference, April 1994

Ours is the task to be fitting examples.  We are strengthened by the truth that the greatest force in the world today is the power of God as it works through man.  If we are on the Lord’s errand, brethren, we are entitled to the Lord’s help.  Never forget that truth. That divine help, of course, is predicated upon our worthiness.  Each must ask:  Are my hands clean?  Is my heart pure?  Am I a worthy servant of the Lord?

We are surrounded by so much that is designed to divert our attention from those things which are virtuous and good and to tempt us with that which would cause us to be unworthy

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.  Temptations come in various forms throughout our lives. . . .

My young friends, be strong.  The philosophies of men surround us.  The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance.  Do not be deceived; behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain.  You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that.  The character of transgression remains the same.  If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone.  Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow.  There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness – and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so. — President Thomas S. Monson, “Examples of Righteousness,” General Conference, April 2008