We live by example, or in other words, we learn by example.
Think of how you learned to talk?
As a baby, did you open up books, study conjugations and learn where to place an article before you could speak a word?
No, you listened to your mother’s voice; you absorbed your father’s words. Eventually you learned which words meant what and you later learned when to use them.
What if your parents had spoken gibberish? Do you think you would have ever learned how to communicate with the outside world — or at least as well as you can now?
However, we don’t only learn by example, we teach by it.
Even when we don’t expect it, someone is learning from our example. Because of this, we better make sure we teach them the lessons they need to become better.
We had the opportunity earlier this week to hear the Prophet of the Lord on our campus.
He told us great stories, reminded us to rely on the Lord, but also wanted us to realize we are examples.
He told the story of a young Elder Davidson — hospitalized while on his mission in Canada — who inspired those around him with the brilliant light of his testimony.
To remind you, Elder Davidson was not supposed to survive his operation. His parents had come to say goodbye and this brave missionary was facing his end.
On the morning of his operation, the nurse went to give breakfast to the five other men in Elder Davidson’s hospital room.
The first patient refused any food.
So did the second.
The nurse continued around the room until all five men had abstained from their daily breakfast.
The nurse was astounded.
Normally these men could consume a hospital’s worth of food in a single morning. She couldn’t understand what was going on.
But one patient explained.
Elder Davidson had been speaking to these men with the fervor of a good missionary. He had told them about the gospel, about faith and fasting. He shared his love of the Church by the light in his eyes.
These five men, not members of the Church or even long time friends of this young man, were fasting with faith for the safety of the missionary.
President Monson continues his story, telling all present the young boy survived.
Not only did he survive, but the surgeon refused to accept payment for this operation. He knew he had not performed this miraculous operation, but a being from on high had guided his every move.
What would this world be like if we were all examples like Elder Davidson?
What could we achieve if we inspired others like he inspired these five men?
Who would we be if we knew our every action could teach the kind of lessons this missionary taught while on his deathbed?
“Always remember that people are looking to you for leadership,” President N. Eldon Tanner said, “and you are influencing the lives of individuals either for good or for bad, which influence will be felt for generations to come.”
Somewhere out there, you have someone looking to you for an example. It could be a sibling, a parent, a friend or someone you’ve simply met in passing.
What kind of example do you give? Will your example bring joy or misery to countless generations?
This is a challenge. No one said it would be easy to watch every action, every word and every opportunity, but it must be done.
We are the influence for generations — you are the influence for your children, your siblings’ children, your friends’ children, a strangers children.
Do what you can to live up to it. You’ve had great examples, so it’s time to pass it along.
This viewpoint represents the opinion of The Daily Universe and not necessarily that of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.