“Think You Failed? Think Again!” New Era, December 2016
Opening your mouth to share the gospel can sometimes be challenging. Maybe even frightening. People don’t always listen, and sometimes you get rejected. In times like these, it’s easy to think you’ve failed.
But did you know you’ve already succeeded when you “open your mouth to declare [His] gospel” (D&C 30:5)? That’s right! Success in sharing the gospel is measured by our effort, not by results we can’t control. As Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Please don’t see your efforts to share the love of the Savior with another as a pass/fail test with your grade determined by how positively your friends respond to your feelings or invitation to meet the missionaries. … When you share the love of the Savior with another, your grade is always an A+” (Oct. 2016 general conference). See how others succeeded simply by striving to share.
My mom is not a member of the Church, and she has many modern views that go against the principles I’d been taught in church, particularly about modesty and virtue. She didn’t understand why I didn’t dress or act like my peers. It was hard for me to defend myself because our relationship was already rocky, and I didn’t want to cause any more contention between us. One day the topic came up, and, despite my hesitation, I explained to her why I choose to dress modestly and live virtuously and why these things are important to me. This didn’t change her views on the subject at all, but I felt good defending my beliefs.
Over the next several months I made an extra effort to strengthen my relationship with her. The next year, when I was serving a mission, I asked my sister to send me skirts. My mom offered to do so instead, and she bought me ones that were both modest and stylish. I know that because I was willing to open my mouth and defend my beliefs and then continue to show my mom love, she became more accepting of my values, even though they are still different from hers.
Alisa B., Ukraine
My best friend Emily and I were two of the six members of the Church at my high school in Indiana. At an activity, we were invited to think of someone in our lives we could share the gospel with. To our surprise, we both immediately thought of the same person—our English teacher. We were nervous to share it with an authority figure, but we decided to act on the prompting and give him a Book of Mormon. It was summer, so we sent it to him in the mail with our testimonies written on the inside cover.
When the school year started a few weeks later, we walked into his class apprehensively. But he didn’t say anything that first day. Or the second day. Or the day after that. We wondered if he was just going to act like nothing happened or if he even got our package at all, but we were too afraid to ask. Finally, about a week and a half later, he handed us a card. When we opened it, we read that he was respectful with his thank you, but we were disappointed to realize that he wasn’t interested in learning more. Though I’m still not sure why we both felt that prompting, I know that it was the right decision to act on it and send him the Book of Mormon.
Carli C., Utah, USA
My friend Josh and I were preparing for our missions. We had a mutual friend named Sara, whom we went to school with. Sara attended another Christian church with her family. We had talked about religion here and there with Sara, but never in much depth.
One day Josh asked me if I would be interested in going with him to talk about the Church with Sara. I felt nervous at first but said yes. He talked to Sara and set up a time to meet to discuss our religious beliefs. I felt nervous at first and decided to study Preach My Gospel to prepare a little more. When we got together, we went through the principles of the first lesson in Preach My Gospel and expounded on what we believed. We asked questions about her religion and beliefs. We gave her a Book of Mormon. She graciously accepted it but told us that she wasn’t looking to change anything. She had her religion and held to beliefs that didn’t align with ours.
Even though she wasn’t interested in accepting more of the gospel, I still felt the Spirit that night as we bore testimony of the Savior and the Restoration of His Church. I also had my eyes opened to what others believe. I felt like this experience helped prepare me for my mission.
Brian D., Utah, USA
I have always loved to read, so I was extremely excited to take the Advanced Placement literature class at my high school—an entire class devoted to reading and discussing books! I quickly discovered, however, that the class was not at all what I had expected. Instead of focusing on books, we mainly discussed religion and moral issues. I was the only member of the Church in my class, and I had very different opinions from my classmates and my teacher. Most of the time it felt like everyone was against me as they’d ask me religious questions and try to pick apart my answers. They didn’t want to understand what I believed; it felt like they just wanted me to admit I was wrong.
It would have been easy for me to remain silent or to agree with them, but I couldn’t denounce what I knew to be true, so every day I opened my mouth and defended my beliefs. No one in my class ended up wanting to investigate the Church, and I actually lost friends because of it. However, defending my beliefs every day helped strengthen my testimony immeasurably because I truly came to understand the reasons why I believed the things I did, and I learned how to talk to others about what I believe. The doctrines of the gospel truly became a part of who I am.
Sara S., New Mexico, USA
One day during school, my friend and I were talking about religion. I began to talk about the things I believe as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a long conversation, and I had the privilege to explain about the power of God here on the earth, the organization of the Church, and most important, the Restoration of the gospel. I would have liked for him to meet with the missionaries and be baptized, but realistically that doesn’t always happen. I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to share truth. I felt strengthened by the Spirit and saw the importance of studying so that I can always be prepared to teach the gospel.
Luis H., São Paulo, Brazil