“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Feb. 1999, 17
It’s very intimidating when you find out that someone is judging something as important as the Church by your actions. It’s also a huge responsibility. But instead of panicking, you need to focus on the good, positive things that can come from the situation.
First, you need to examine the things you are doing. Maybe there are a few bad habits that you need to clean up. Use this opportunity as motivation to fix things in your own life. For example, in your speech, do you use some words that you really shouldn’t? Now is a good time to really work on changing your vocabulary.
Or have you let some other things slide, like being respectful to those in authority or not talking about others behind their backs. Now, while you are aware that someone else is paying attention to the things you say and do, would be a great time to get yourself in shape spiritually.
Second, you need to cultivate the friendship. Because you know your friend has an interest in the Church, you can, in a relaxed way, start talking more about church things. For example, when your friend asks what you are doing the next day, go ahead and tell about early-morning seminary or youth activities. Make it easy for your friend to ask you questions. And invite your friend to come with you to seminary, youth activities, or church.
In the Church we use certain words a little differently. A perfect example is the word stake. We use it to talk about a group of wards. But telling a friend not of our faith that you are taking him to a dance at the stake house will make him wonder if steaks are going to be served. We have lots of expressions like that, such as Mutual, sacrament meeting, etc. We get so used to them that we don’t realize that people who aren’t members won’t know what we are talking about. Make it comfortable for your friend to ask questions if he gets confused.
Third, be prepared. When your friend asks questions about our beliefs, try to answer him honestly and briefly. But if you feel stuck or can’t quite find the right way to explain something, then tell him, “I’ll get the answer for you.” Go to your parents, seminary teacher, ward missionaries, or ward leaders for help in getting the answer you need. This experience can be a great blessing to you because, as you prepare to answer your friend’s questions, you will study and learn in a way that will help your testimony grow and will be good preparation for a mission.
As in everything you do, you can turn to the Lord in prayer and He will guide you. Be a good friend and good example (see Matt. 5:16). Then your friend can see in you what a true Latter-day Saint is like.
Nobody is perfect. You and your friend are not perfect. But what makes you remarkably different from him is that you know the way to become perfect. I know you can emit the greatest light sufficient to guide your friends if you always think of the Savior’s example.
Tell your friend that not everyone is perfect. Everyone makes a mistake once in a while, but we can be forgiven for our actions by repentance.
Bart Mills, 16
Pleasant Grove, Utah
Try to be a shining example when you are with your friend. Read Alma 39:1 and pray about that. Tell your friend about our church. Tell him you have a testimony of the gospel. Don’t forget that you have the spirit of God with you.
Juliana Lazzarotti Oliveira
I have a friend who will be baptized soon. She saw past my imperfections and looked to the Church. I was trying my hardest to be the perfect example, but there is only one who is—Jesus Christ. You just need to be the best person that you can be, and the Lord will bless you.
Cristina Belshe, 16
It depends on the kind of mistake you have made. Either you immediately correct yourself, or you ask Heavenly Father with a sincere heart to always help you choose the right.
Anita Joshua Akpan, 19
I am one out of eight members that attend a high school of 900 students. Everyone knows I’m LDS. I used to make many mistakes until I realized someone was watching my every move and asked me questions about the Church. I couldn’t answer some. I got my priorities in order and started reading the scriptures more. I still make mistakes, but I’ve set a much better example for my friends.
Esther Sorter, 15
Wichita Falls, Texas
Be yourself. Do all you can to have the Spirit with you. The Spirit converts.
Daryl Michael, 19
I often make mistakes, as I’m sure everyone else does. This is why we have repentance and the Atonement. Once I was asked by a teacher if I was LDS when I was wearing a BYU sweatshirt. I gladly replied with a yes. I guess how we dress, as well as how we act or speak, sends a hidden message.
Sam Converse, 15
If your friend is interested, and you want to help him, make sure you’re inviting him to Church activities and meetings. Another way to help would be to talk to your bishop or local missionaries.
Kira Yates, 12