As a writer of fiction, the most common – but also the most important – advice I’ve received is “show, don’t tell.”
That means that when I want a reader to know or feel something, I try not to tell them what I want them to know or feel. Instead, I give them small clues through characters’ words or actions, the setting, or other indirect channels and let them interpret everything themselves. If I spoon-feed them, they are much less likely to be interested or have an emotional reaction.
Recently, I’ve realized that this powerful principle can be applied to the gospel, too.
I’ve heard the phrase “every member a missionary” about as many times as I’ve heard “show, don’t tell,” and if I’m being honest, it used to scare the living daylights out of me.
As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not an outgoing person. I’m a fun all-in-one combination of introversion, shyness, and social anxiety. I get stressed just making plans to hang out with my friends, so the idea of sharing something as important as the gospel with others (not to mention challenging their beliefs) terrifies me.
So…I didn’t really do it.
Or, at least, I thought I didn’t.
I didn’t understand that, in my own way, I’ve been a “member missionary” all along. And you probably have, too. Possibly a more effective one than you’ll ever know.
Telling people about the gospel and vocally bearing testimony is actually not a bad thing at all. It’s great, and it’s definitely something we should do if we have the opportunity, but it’s not the only way to share the gospel. I don’t even think it’s always the most effective.
We can also testify by showing. We can show others the light the gospel brings into our lives through our actions. It might take time, but people will see that light and be drawn to it.
In his talk from the October 2015 General Conference, President Monson said, “Each of us came to earth having been given the Light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.”
We should remember that light is not something we hear. It’s something we see. Something we feel. If you are actively living the gospel, you are allowing others to experience that light for themselves. In your own way, you are sharing the light of the gospel with the world.