“May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven,” President Thomas S. Monson said during the priesthood session of the October 2011 general conference.
“We have been and continue to be taught God’s laws,” President Monson said. “Despite what you may see or hear elsewhere, these laws are unchanging.” He encouraged each of us to build a sturdy foundation and develop strength so that we are ready when the time comes to stand up for our beliefs.
“In order for us to be strong and to withstand all the forces pulling us in the wrong direction or all the voices encouraging us to take the wrong path, we must have our own testimony,” President Monson said. “Whether you are 12 or 112—or anywhere in between—you can know for yourself that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.”
Testimony Leads to Courage
President Monson told of his own experience in navy boot camp as the first time he remembers having the courage to stand up for his beliefs. On the first Sunday, the chief petty officer ordered the recruits to attend church. As the various denominations were called out and sent off, President Monson saw those around him trickle away until he was sure the officer was staring only at him.
“I can assure you that I felt completely alone,” President Monson said. “Courageous and determined, yes—but alone. And then I heard the sweetest words I ever heard that chief petty officer utter. He looked in my direction and asked, ‘And just what do you guys call yourselves?’
“Until that very moment I had not realized that anyone was standing beside me or behind me on the drill ground. Almost in unison, each of us replied, ‘Mormons!’ It is difficult to describe the joy that filled my heart as I turned around and saw a handful of other sailors.
“Since that day, there have been times when there was no one standing behind me and so I did stand alone. How grateful I am that I made the decision long ago to remain strong and true, always prepared and ready to defend my religion, should the need arise.”
Taking a Leap of Faith
Today’s prophets and apostles have regularly counseled Latter-day Saints to stand strong in defense of their beliefs and to take action based on their beliefs. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf challenged us to fully invest in the cause of spreading the gospel by taking decisive action.
“Commitment is a little like diving into the water,” President Uchtdorf said. “Either you are committed or you are not. Either you are moving forward or you are standing still. There’s no halfway. We all face moments of decision that change the rest of our lives. As members of the Church, we must ask ourselves, ‘Will I dive in or just stand at the edge? Will I step forward or merely test the temperature of the water with my toes?’
“As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have committed to walk in the path of discipleship. We have committed to follow the example of our Savior. Imagine how the world will be blessed and transformed for good when all members of the Lord’s Church live up to their true potential—converted in the depth of their souls and committed to building the kingdom of God.
“In some way, each of us stands at a decision point overlooking the water. It is my prayer that we will have faith, move forward, face our fears and doubts with courage, and say to ourselves, ‘I’m committed!’”
Strength to Stand
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged us to honor our covenants so we can have the strength to set a righteous example to others.
“We inevitably must make choices,” Elder Cook said. “If we know the doctrines and principles of the gospel, we can make wise decisions. If our lives are pure, the Spirit will guide us. Then we will be able to symbolically pitch our tents toward the temple and the covenants we have made to the Lord, and we will be in the world and not of the world.”
We have a sacred duty to stand in the light and share who we are and what we stand for, Elder Cook said. He retold an instance where he stood up for his beliefs during a job interview following law school. After twice refusing alcoholic beverages offered to him, Elder Cook informed the interviewer of his faith.
“A few months later, the senior partner told me the offer of the alcoholic beverages was a test,” Elder Cook said. “He noted that my résumé made it clear that I had served an LDS mission. He had determined that he would hire me only if I was true to the teachings of my own church. He considered it a significant matter of character and integrity.”