Each young man will learn that through setting a good example he can strengthen fellow members of the Church and interest those who are not yet members.
In this lesson you are to help the young men understand that example is a powerful teacher and that they are teachers by example to their peers. Encourage them to become living testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel.
Suggested Lesson Development
An Aaronic Priesthood Holder Should Be an Example for Good
Share the following quotation:
“As members of the Church we all represent the Church through our actions. What is our message?” (O. Leslie Stone, “The Importance of Reputation,” New Era, Feb. 1978, p. 43).
Scripture and discussion
What do you think Paul meant when he said, “Let no man despise thy youth”? (Just because a person is young does not mean he is not wise.)
How does Paul suggest that we be examples of the believers? (Through our words, our conversations, our acts of charity, our spirit, our faith, our purity.)
What are some ways we can be good examples to others?
How do you think the Lord feels about those who show a good example by the way they live?
Story and discussion
The following true story shows how important it is to be a good example.
“The doctor at the base near Taejon, Korea, looked up at me and smiled. I had been congratulating him and his colleagues on their brilliant management of a carbon monoxide poisoning incident. …
“In his tent we chatted about the incidence of such poisoning among soldiers. Korean homes are heated with a soft coal, called yantan, which is pressed into large bricks and burned in a stove beneath one corner of the house. Smoke and fumes are ducted through the clay and tile floor to a chimney on the opposite side of the structure, warming the building and its occupants. If a leak develops, carbon monoxide is released into the house.
“Often U.S. soldiers would leave their base of assignment, go into a nearby village, get drunk, and fall asleep near a yantan stove. Occasionally they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and were returned to the base unconscious. In the course of treatment, it was customary to check the alcohol level in their blood.
“I asked the doctor what this soldier’s blood-alcohol level had been, and his answer was both startling and satisfying.
“‘Oh, I didn’t get a blood-alcohol reading on Private Christian,’ he had said. ‘He’s a Mormon.’ …
“‘What’s that got to do with it?’ I asked. ‘This fellow went into town and was found unconscious. How do you know his unconsciousness wasn’t caused by alcoholic intoxication?’
“The doctor replied, ‘Because this is Christian. He never does anything that is not proper and exemplary.’
“The doctor explained that nearly everyone on the base knew that Private Christian was a returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had served his mission in Korea, spoke the language, and during his off-duty hours he often went to the village to visit with the people. He had taught some of them about his church, and they had joined. They lived in a small hamlet next to the base but had gone with Christian to religious services in Taejon.
“The private had returned home with them Sunday evening and was invited to spend the night. Because he was an honored guest, he was given the place closest to the smoldering yantan. But it was a cold night, and all the openings in the building had been closed. A crack in the floor had not been noticed. As the American soldier slept, he had been overcome by the gases.
“I marveled that [the doctor] could have known this young private so well. He replied that he didn’t know many soldiers closely, but that Christian’s life was so distinct that it set him apart from all the other men on base” (Archie M. Brugger, “Because This Is Christian,” New Era, June 1978, p. 7).
How did Private Christian’s conduct fulfill Paul’s counsel given in 1 Timothy 4:12?
What effect do you think his example had on other soldiers and the people of Korea?
A Priesthood Holder’s Good Example Influences Others’ Opinions of the Church
Quotations and discussion
Elder Charles A. Didier advised, “As the youth of the Church, your influence, your example can be a determining factor in someone’s conversion to or lack of interest in the message of the restoration of the gospel” (“The Power of Example,” New Era, Oct. 1978, p. 5).
What responsibility does this place on each of us?
Explain that others may be looking to us as examples. What we do can give them a positive or negative impression of the Church. A study of thirty-eight young people who joined the Church showed that thirty-one of them became interested because of the good example of Latter-day Saint friends (see Ron Woods, “Young Converts Were ‘Mormon Watchers,’” Church News, 27 Oct. 1979, p. 12).
Can you think of any examples of friends, family members, or others who were led to join the Church because of the example of other Church members?
Ask the young men to share any such conversion stories they know about. You also may want to share such an experience.
President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency told the following story:
“I was talking to a young man who is going to be baptized next month, the only member of his family to be baptized, and I said, ‘What caused you to be interested in the Church?’
“And he replied, ‘The young man I was associating with in school was a member of your church, and the way he lived interested me. He was different from the rest of the boys. He was happy, and he invited me to his home; and when I saw the love in that home and how that family lived, I was more interested. He took me to church, and then I joined the ball team, and I found in that church a different feeling than I had found any other place. Then that ball team, those fine fellows all keeping the Word of Wisdom and living good clean lives, impressed me, and I determined that I would join the Church’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, p. 114; or Ensign, July 1972, p. 100).
Another young “Mormon watcher” wrote this letter to the Ensign magazine to thank a faithful Mormon:
“In the summer of 1953 I was a sixteen-year-old apprentice actress at Barter Theatre, Abingdon, Virginia. Our lead actress was a pretty red-haired girl who had won the lead role in a competition … in New York. Her name was June Moncur, although that may only have been her stage name. She and I shared a suite of rooms, and every morning when I woke up I saw June sitting on her bed reading. I awoke to that sight, no matter what the hour, for four months.
“The news quickly spread that she was a Mormon, and in an environment where morals simply did not exist, she was as pure as snow. No drinking, no smoking, not even in plays, and no men in her room. She loved everyone, and she was so gentle and friendly even though she was the ‘star.’ And always in the morning she was reading and reading, not her scripts, but some other books and magazines that she had brought with her.
“She never talked to me about her religion, and I never asked her. But I never forgot her.
“Many years later, after I had married and already had two children, my husband and I became dissatisfied with our spiritual lives. We took religion courses and went to all kinds of churches, but we still were not satisfied.
“Then I remembered June. She had been, they said, a Mormon. We had no idea what a Mormon was, and I didn’t remember even talking about them in school history. So I went to the public library in the little Alabama town of Opelika, and checked out the only thing I could find: ‘Mormon, the book of.’ In the book was a list of mission homes and I wrote to the nearest one, which was in Georgia, and asked if they accepted converts. The rest is part of our family history.
“I’ve never been able to find that young lady to tell her that, because she lived her religion in a way that I could not forget, thirty-seven people on both sides of our families are members of the Church. Countless others in the spirit world also have been given the opportunity.
“We never know, we just never know, who is watching us, and what they are learning from us” (Ann Fowler Lehne, “Missionary Example,” Ensign, Dec. 1977, p. 62).
Scripture and discussion
Explain that the Savior expects us to shine with the same brightness as the girl in the letter by living the standards of his church. He expressed in Matthew 5:14–16 his desire for us to lead and teach others by our example. Ask a young man to read this passage. Suggest that the young men mark these verses.
What does the Savior mean when he describes his followers as “the light of the world”? (We can lead others to Christ through our example.)
Explain that precept means idea. Then read the following quotation from President N. Eldon Tanner:
“It is most important, therefore, that we are always on the alert, remembering that one teaches more effectively by example than by precept. Let us never forget the old axiom: ‘Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say’” (“Teaching Children of God,” Ensign, Oct. 1980, p. 4).
Ask the young men to ask themselves the following questions and answer them in their own minds:
Am I living my life in such a way that my light or example would lead others to want to join the Church?
Would I like to preach what I am practicing?
What does my example teach?
How do others see me?
What kind of example am I—
With my friends?
When someone says something unkind to me?
When I don’t get my way?
When I have free time to do as I wish?
When I am called upon to do an extra assignment in my priesthood calling?
Ask each young man to think about one way in which his example is not as it should be and to make his example better. Suggest that the young men write these goals in their journals.