To change something can mean, “To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.” When speaking in reference to people, the word “change” can imply “to cause to be different” or “to lay aside, abandon, or leave for another.” Preferably, when speaking of “change”, as in desiring to change a person’s behavior, habits, or even mode of thinking, it is inferred that the “change” is something that would make him a better person, and not something that could be considered detrimental.
The Pioneering Change Agent
One definition of the word “pioneer” is, “one who opens up new areas of thought, research, or development.” In that sense, a pioneer is an innovator. He discovers and introduces new ideas which may differ somewhat from the established norm, but if adhered to, could cause positive change to occur in the lives of others. And so, it may also be said that a pioneer is a change agent, or a person who acts as a catalyst for change.
Change Agents Influence the Lives of Others
I am a pioneer in the sense that I am the only person in my immediate family who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others.) As such, I am also a change agent, and have been given an awesome responsibility by my Heavenly Father to set the example and to lead my family down the path that I have been blessed to discover, that leads to the knowledge of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. If they would follow that path, they too could come to know the joy and the happiness that the gospel brings to a person’s life.
Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, however, does not mean that my responsibilities end with just my family, but rather, as a change agent for the Lord Jesus Christ, I am reminded:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your alight so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).
Another of my favorite passages of scripture that serves as a proverbial compass as I walk along life’s path is found in 1 Peter 3:15-17. These verses have become my life verses as it were:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
As I strive to live my life as a living witness and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I often reflect upon the words recorded in verse 15, “. . . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” The greatest message of hope that we can share with anyone is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so I must be ready to always give an answer to all that ask me of the hope that is within me.
Steps to Preparing to Give an Answer of the Hope that is in me
There are several steps that I can take to ensure that I am always ready to give an answer of that inward hope.
- Be a diligent student of the Word
Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second highest governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ) has taught, “The scriptures that are never read will never help us” (“Born of Goodly Parents,” Ensign, May 1985, p. 23). It is very difficult to teach someone about something if we have not adequately prepared ourselves by studying the subject that we are apt to teach. The scriptures are our guide or compass as we travel the pathways of life.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success (Joshua 1:8).
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Memorize portions of Scripture
What better way to demonstrate the love that we have for the words of our Great Exemplar, the Lord Jesus Christ than by memorizing portions of those words. By so doing, we show others that we believe they are more than just words on a page, but we have written them upon our hearts and we testify that they are true. As the Psalmist declared in Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I may not sin against thee.”
Be an example
The Apostle Paul exhorted his young son in the gospel, Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Delbert L. Stapley who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ from 1950 to 1978 taught, “The way we live outweighs any words that we may profess to follow” (CR, October 1974, p.25). Harold B. Lee, 11th President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ taught,
You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure if you would rescue the man that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him to be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul (CR, April 1973, p.178).
There is no better way to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with non-member family and friends than by being a living example of the principles and doctrines that are taught therein. If others see that we strive to live the gospel, and that it brings joy and happiness, they too will want to follow in our footsteps to be able to experience that same joy and happiness.
Acknowledge Christ in all things
In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are taught to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.” Christ must always be our guide. He will shows us the paths that we must take and the way that we must go.
Luke 18:1 tells us that “…men ought always to pray…” We must also remember that prayer is not one- way communication. At the end of our prayers we need to spend some quiet time just listening. Sometimes ideas flood our minds as we listen after our prayers. Sometimes feelings press upon us. A spirit of calmness assures us that all will be well. Joseph F. Smith, 6th President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ taught,
Do not forget to pray. Don’t suppose for a moment that you are as safe and secure in the favor of the Lord when you feel independent of Him as you will be if you feel your dependence upon Him all the day long (CR, April 1915, p.140).
Endure to the end
And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.
And in modern day revelation as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 we are taught, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”
I close with my testimony that the hope that is in me is Jesus Christ and the knowledge that His gospel is true. I am persuaded that as a pioneer member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for my family; as a light that shines before the world; as a change agent for the Lord Jesus Christ, as I strive to live my life as a living witness and testimony, others will want to follow in my footsteps to learn more of this blessed hope. The windows of opportunity are open and I am willing to do the work that the Father has sent me to do. That I may do so humbly and in accordance with His perfect will is my sincere prayer, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.