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
| Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words (Hymns
| Should You Feel Inclined to Censure (Hymns
| Love One Another (Hymns
|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,
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.
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."
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