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Learning from Others

Personal revelation emboldens us to walk by the light of our own reason and intuition, experience, and inspiration. At the same time, we are exhorted to learn from the experiences and insights of others. One way we do this is through study of the scriptures, where we can read the reflections of people from the past who struggled to make sense of life through the lens of a faith that is similar to ours (1 Ne. 1:1; 2 Ne. 4:15).

Modern revelation commands the Saints to teach and edify one another (D&C 43:8; 88:77). We do this through talks, testimony meetings, discussions in church classes, home and visiting teaching, and family home evenings. These traditions are based on the principle that all should have an equal privilege to speak so that all can be edified by all (D&C 88:122). Recognizing that we need to learn from people who are very different from us, and with whom we may strongly disagree, is part of the challenge of being the church, the body of Christ (D&C 84:109-110).

Listening to others is a discipline that cultivates humility, patience, tolerance, and Christ-like love. Additionally, we need the quiet self-assurance that will allow us, in turn, to respectfully express who we are. Unfortunately, feelings of vulnerability often lead people to react negatively to difference. This prevents LDS church communities from being places where members with diverse understandings of our common faith can have mutually edifying exchanges.

Related Topics:
One in Christ    

 Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words  (Hymns 232)
 Should You Feel Inclined to Censure  (Hymns 235)
 Love One Another  (Hymns 308)

The Lord sent us here to gain experience and to respond to the experiences of others.
"Phrases of Faith," LDS Church News, April 23, 1994

Kate L. Kirkham: Whether we are eager to impress others of our conservative or our liberal values[, w]e have much to learn from one another in living the gospel, and we can best do that by staying in relationship to each other.

"On Being Teachable," Women of Wisdom and Knowledge (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990), 118

Elaine L. Jack: To reach out to other human beings, we need to listen to others and be willing to form different opinions. We need to assimilate new information, weigh it against what we already know, and decide what to keep. This is the process of education—the ongoing education that enhances life.

Eye to Eye, Heart to Heart (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992), 94-95

Chieko N. Okazaki: We must have the courage to speak the truth of our own experience, our own hearts, our own minds, and our own spirits. And then we must have the charity to listen to others share the truths of their own experience. I think this process will take patience. We need to be patient as we find loving ways to say things that may sound hard to other people. We need to be patient as we listen to things that we may not agree with from others. We need to remember that we don't need to judge, we don't need to fix, we don't need to agree, and we definitely don't need to give advice. We just need to listen and try to understand.

Sanctuary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997), 24-25

Chieko N. Okazaki: Not judging is an act of security and self-confidence, like a walnut protected by its shell. A person who is tolerant and accepting of others, a person who feels no need to judge others, knows what he or she believes and does not feel threatened or attacked because other people believe differently. A tolerant person can listen to all kinds of things and say, "That's very interesting. I think I understand what you mean."

Disciples (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998), 119

Linda Bentley Johnson: It is holy work to hear people tell the truth about their lives. In a world of small talk and shallow conversations, it is refreshing to listen to others get below the surface and speak about what is real in their lives.

"Steak and Spam Service," Every Good Thing (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998), 89-90

This website is an independent effort to discern the Spirit's voice in LDS teaching. The site is not sponsored by the LDS Church. Quotations from the teachings of any individual should not be taken to imply that the individual does or would endorse this website or other statements made here.