In my role as the President of the Church’s worldwide children’s organization, I love visiting with the women of the Church. I can honestly say that, wherever I go, I meet unwavering women who are willing to stand for truth and righteousness—they shine. The women I meet tell me stories of their challenges and trials. Yet these wonderful daughters of God continue to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20).
It may be that in our daily lives, some of us are seldom asked to stand—literally or figuratively—to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom here on earth. On the other hand, some of us may be required to speak up on a regular basis to defend truth: perhaps at school, at work, with friends, or even with family. Sisters, I promise you that whether it’s in the boardroom or the bakery, at some point, as a disciple of Christ, you will be called upon to articulate what you know and believe.
So how will you react when a situation presents itself to speak up for Jesus Christ and His Church? Will you freeze? Will you avoid confrontation? As you may have experienced, the third and better alternative, standing as a witness, may be uncomfortable at first as well, but as President M. Russell Ballard once said, “it is always the right thing to do. Always.” Freezing and running from the opportunity to do what Jesus would do often results in regret, not only for ourselves but also for those who might have benefited from our words. Sometimes compromise represents a far greater risk than courage. As difficult as it is to stand for truth, it is much harder to live with the consequences of moral failure.
It might help to remember the wisdom of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “You will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.”
Speaking up isn’t easy. Did everyone agree with the Savior as He taught His seemingly new doctrine to the Jews? Of course not. Did He tolerate the sins of His day that we see so rampant before us today? No, He did not stay silent. He was bold in His proclamations because He knew He was doing His Father’s will. Not everyone agreed with what He taught, but He stood for the truth. He had enemies, but He loved them and always treated others with kindness. His example stands supreme.
There is, as the Savior demonstrated, a powerful difference between showing sincere love to someone versus tolerating what a person is doing. We can still love another person and not support his or her choices. As Elder Holland said, we can show courtesy and respect while still addressing issues of disagreement. And we must make appropriate judgments to protect ourselves and our families. As Alma taught, we can be bold but not overbearing (see Alma 38:12).
Do you remember the Book of Mormon story when Alma went into the land of the Zoramites? These were former members of the Church of God who had become dissenters. Rather than taking up weapons to fight against these dissenters, Alma realized that “as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5). Note that the words they spoke were more powerful than any other weapon they could use.
Some of our most articulate moments and greatest influence come with how we live, by being happy in a family, happy in being obedient, happy in the way we dress, serve, and work. It sometimes seems increasingly in vogue to joke in demeaning ways about children, husbands, prophets, service in the kingdom, and so on, which may be another opportunity for each of us to speak up.
Recently, Sister Sharon Eubank taught: “Each of us needs to be better at articulating the reasons for our faith. How do you feel about Jesus Christ? Why do you stay in the Church? Why do you believe the Book of Mormon is scripture? Where do you get your peace? Why does it matter that the prophet has something to say [today]? How do you know he is a real prophet? Use your voice and your power to articulate what you know and feel—on social media, in quiet conversations with your friends, when you’re chatting with your grandchildren. Tell them why you believe, what it feels like, if you ever doubted, how you got through it, and what Jesus Christ means to you.”
Your words have the power to influence for good. Each of us can, one by one, stand for truth, stand for righteousness, and stand for goodness and decency. So, put your full trust in Him—stand up, speak up, and shine.
Adapted from an address given at BYU Women’s Conference in May 2018.