Christmas. Just the word makes our hearts stir. Beautiful trees strung with tinsel and lights. Carols ringing through a frosty night. This is a special time of year when hearts, hands and homes are open, to each other and to the Savior. As Bobby Macey, the Brandview Manager for Deseret Digital Media, says,
The festivities and spirit of the season provide unique opportunities to share the gospel with our families, friends, and strangers.
The holidays are a great time to share feelings of gratitude and love.
This guide does not attempt to cover every possible way to share the gospel during the holidays, but it does teach principles and give ideas that will make you think, “That’s so easy. I can do that.”
The Spirit will guide you to know exactly how and with whom to share the gospel this year as you consider these five principles and ideas for their application.
- Prepare to Share
- Build Friendships
- Start Gospel Conversations
- Extend Invitations to Experience the Gospel
- Share the Gospel with Strangers
Prepare to Share
Bobby Unser is one of only two automobile racers to win the Indianapolis 500 three or more times in three different decades. As a man who has met success in his life and career he said,
How do we prepare ourselves to successfully share the gospel when opportunities come to us? Let’s learn from the shepherds.
Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.
Before spreading the news told them by the angels the shepherds determined to personally find Jesus. They said, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem” and they “came with haste” (Luke 2:15-16). They did not say, “Let’s go to Bethlehem if we have time after delivering all the cookies” or “If we’re in the neighborhood while shopping for gifts, then we might stop by.”
Finding Jesus was urgent; it was their priority. And only when they found Him were they prepared to share His message.
How would our prayers, scripture study and worship change if we felt the same urgency to find Jesus there, and the same excitement to share the message of His birth and life?
The following five ideas will help you find Christ and prepare yourself to share the gospel.
1. Slow Down and Focus on Christ
Simple, peaceful holidays don’t happen by accident. President Uchtdorf says,
At no time is this more true than during the holidays.
Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules.
There are gifts to buy and wrap, goodies to bake and deliver, parties to plan and attend, friends and family to visit, service to render, carols to sing, trees to decorate, and lights to hang. With all of these demands and activities, it is easy to feel so overwhelmed that we miss the joy and magic of the season.
Leonardo da Vinci said,
Walt Witman said,
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said
Simplicity is the glory of expression.
In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.
Busyness is not a mark of excellence and sophistication; simplicity is. If we are not intentional about simplifying our season, it will easily become too chaotic to hear the quiet promptings of the Holy Ghost and too busy to stop and have meaningful conversations.
Simplifying will look different for each individual and each family, but for all it should result in less rushing and more time focused on, thinking about, communing with, talking about, and acting like Jesus. We need more Christ and less -mas. So let’s simplify.
Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. said,
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard…to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
2. Pray for Guidance
“Counsel with The Lord in all thy doings, and He will direct thee for good” (Alma 37:37). Tell Him your desire to be His instrument this holiday season. He is far more creative and His timing is always perfect. Ask Him to be your partner, then go forth with His Spirit.
By simplifying the season, you created enough space in your schedule to follow His prompting. Now pray with sincerity, fully intending to follow whatever He asks you to do.
Commit to be an angel on His errand this season and He will guide you to those whose hearts are open and ready to be touched.
3. Follow the Spirit
Only the Lord knows what is in each of His children’s hearts. We have to rely on Him to truly bless each other. And His glory is revealed as that happens, as silent needs are met by loved ones and strangers who act as His angels. There is no better feeling than to be such an angel, a partner with God on His errand.
Such opportunities are everywhere. We interact with dozens of people everyday, each with a silent need. If we earnestly ask the Lord to use us and faithfully follow the Spirit’s promptings, He will guide us to those that need Him. And as we let our lights shine in such a way that He is glorified, we will help bring His children closer to Him.
When we are filled with the Spirit, others will feel that Spirit and
says Dr. Steve Dennis, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at BYU-Idaho. As we follow the Spirit we can be a light to bring others to the Light.
It is the Spirit that converts and changes the hearts and minds of people.We must find ways to bring individuals close enough to the light that they can feel the Spirit.
4. Search the Scriptures
says Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and motivation speaker with a moving rags-to-riches story.
Searching and learning is where the miracle process begins.
Searching implies you are looking for something and you intend to find it. If we are searching for lost keys we don’t just look under one cushion then say “Oh well” and move on if we didn’t find them.We tear the house apart, and we don’t stop until those keys are back in our hands.
This season, let us truly search for Jesus and begin the miracle process. As we do so He promises, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13).
In Preach My Gospel we are taught,
“Your gospel study is most effective when you are taught by the Holy Ghost. Always begin your gospel study by praying for the Holy Ghost to help you learn. He will bring knowledge and conviction that will bless your life and allow you to bless the lives of others.”
Scripture study blesses us and prepares us to bless others. So if we are serious about sharing the gospel, we better get serious about studying the scriptures.
5. Learn Together as a Family
Have them share what they have learned about the gospel in family settings so they are better prepared when opportunities arise in other settings. Study the scriptures and resources such as “Preach My Gospel” as a family. Give them opportunities to lead in Family Home Evening. Share your testimony and give them opportunities to do the same. Pray together for opportunities to lift and teach others.
The most important converts are your own children, and as they are converted in the home they will be prepared to “strengthen [their] brethren” (Luke 22:32).
Take advantage of the special spirit during this time of year and set aside sacred time to “talk of Christ… rejoice in Christ…preach of Christ… that [y]our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Ne 25:26) and that they may be prepared to share that message with others.
Sharing the gospel in a friendship is more showing the gospel than preaching the gospel. It is simply allowing others into our lives and letting them see how the gospel works. We must be ready to say, “If you want to see what Latter-day Saints believe, look at me.” “If you want to see how the Atonement works, look at me.” “If you want to see the blessings of following a living prophet, look at me.”
Dr. Dennis reminds us,
The gospel is best shared in the context of a relationship and modeling. Live the gospel fully and love others and then pray that doors will be opened for you to share and lift others.
He instructs us to “invite and challenge—but don’t push and shove. Don’t act in ways that do not invite the spirit. Don’t be disrespectful of current choices even thought they may not currently be in harmony with the plan of happiness.” We must simultaneously desire what is best for our loved ones and respect their agency. That balance comes through Christ-like love and patience. Or in other words, friendship.
Here are four ideas of ways to meet new people and renew and strengthen old friendships this holiday season. (Many of the ideas for starting conversations also build friendships, so keep reading the next section.)
1. Enjoy Holiday Festivities Together
Take time to be together and enjoy the wonder of the Christmas season. You are already enjoying the many activities hosted by the community, churches, or you. Before you go, invite a friend to join you.
Go to the mall to see Santa, drive around to see the lights, participate in a Santa Run or Turkey Run, visit a nativity display, bake cookies or do a Christmas craft. Christmas and Thanksgiving events provide natural opportunities for conversations about gratitude and Christ.
If the activity is noisy, such as a Christmas concert or carnival, get hot chocolate or invite your friends over for cookies afterward so you can also enjoy some quiet time to talk. Take advantage of the spirit and festivities of the holidays to create memories and strengthen friendships.
Corrie Ten Boom, a concentration camp survivor and author of The Hiding Place, says,
Memories created this season will be the key to the future of our friendships.
Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.
2. Attend Others’ Church Services and Family Activities
When inviting friends and family to attend your ward activities or Christmas program, ask if their church hosts any special Christmas events that you could attend with them. Then go with an open heart, the same way you hope your friends will come to your activities or church services. We can learn a lot about how to worship and how to be Christians as share in the gospel with our friends of other faiths.
This is a time to celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth and the wonder of His Atonement. Join with other Christians in celebrating and worshiping Christ. Embrace our common ground.
3. Serve Loved Ones
Paul counseled, “[B]y love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). As we lovingly serve our friends, neighbors and families, Christ’s love with pour into our lives and relationships.
United States President Woodrow Wilson said,
There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.
Simple service is powerful. In the midst of wonderful holiday service projects, don’t overlook the small acts of service for you friends and family that will deepen and enrich your relationships.
Pray for guidance to be able to see and meet needs, and then willingly offer your time and talents. Babysit friends’ kids while they shop for Christmas gifts. Invite a single adult to join you for Christmas Eve dinner. Help a widow set up her Christmas tree. Bring cookies to your neighbors. Share Christ in word and deed.
4. Give a Book of Mormon with Cookies
This may not the best approach for all of your friends and neighbors, but for many it could be the perfect way to share something so meaningful to you.
If you have a plate of cookies it is natural for you to be on your friends’ doorstep or at their desk giving them something festive. And if we are really focused on Christ, there is nothing more festive than The Book of Mormon. This is a great time to share your love for the Savior and how The Book of Mormon helped you get to know Him.
Elder Juan Uceda joined the church after a friend shared The Book of Mormon with his family and he came to know its truth because he felt peace, joy and enlightenment as he read. Because of his own experience, he powerfully declares,
There are many people who would find what they need in the Church. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth with your friends and say, “I believe this. I want to share this with you.”…
So be a good example because you never know if a Juan Uceda will be there waiting. You’ll never know unless you open your mouth and say, “Juan, I’d like to invite you to come to my church. I want you to read this book.” If you do that simple thing, you may change lives.
Start Gospel Conversations
Why can we so easily carry on conversations about our careers, our children, even our dreams, but when religion comes up our instinct is to hyperventilate?
Too often we hide the religious, most important, part of ourselves waiting for the “perfect moment”, then we want to spring everything on our friends at once. So when someone brings up religion we are too caught up wondering, “Is this the moment?!” to continue a normal conversation.
How much more effective we would be if we could let people see our true Christ-centered selves a little bit at a time, naturally and whenever a small opportunity presents itself.
Can we talk about our religious beliefs and activities as part of who we are, just like we talk about our kids, our hobbies and our jobs as part of who we are?
My life changed when I realized I could share the gospel like that—not with a hidden agenda to convert—just sharing who I am and letting others see what it means to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So how do we start those kinds of conversations? Here are five ideas.
1. Ask For Suggestions
We are asked to share the gospel, not just give the gospel. That means it is not a one-sided “I have everything to offer and you have nothing” arrangement. It is give and take, talking and listening, taking turns and learning together on equal ground.
Truman Capote, author and playwright, reminds us,
One of the most powerful ways to share the gospel in a two-sided conversation is to ask questions, especially asking for suggestions.
A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.
Earlier this year I spoke in sacrament meeting about keeping the Sabbath day holy. While preparing my talk I asked several friends of various Christian faiths for ideas. And I learned so much from them! We had such rich conversations. Two of my friends came to hear me speak and two more asked for a copy of my talk .
This is a great way to approach an assignment to speak or teach, but it is also a wonderful way to share ideas during the holidays. Ask your friends a question such as, “What do you do to help your children focus on Christ during the Christmas season?” and Christ-centered conversation will result, filled with the Spirit and wonderful suggestions coming from them and you.
This is an easy time to plan to go together to a nativity display, a live nativity production, or a church Christmas activity (yours or theirs).
2. Share a Holiday Meal
Shared conversation over shared food is uniting. Anciently meals also held great significance; Bible scholars understand meals to be a sign of a covenant, only shared by parties at peace. Inviting our friends into our homes to share a meal at our tables is a sign of true and enduring friendship.
Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve meals are generally reserved for family or close friends, and most of your friends will be sharing those times with their own families. But you may think of some friends who live far away from family who would love to join you for such a special meal.
And for your other friends, get creative! Have a Thanksgiving left-over meal, a Thanksgiving Eve pie night, a dinner to begin the 12 days of Christmas or a Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve Meal. Use this intimate setting to open your hearts.
Talking about spiritual things is natural during the holidays, especially around the dinner table. Bob Ehrlich, American attorney and politician, once said
As we open our tables to friends and family during the holidays, important conversations will happen there.
Some of the most important conversations I’ve ever had occurred at my family’s dinner table.
During a Thanksgiving-themed dinner with friends or family members, have everyone share something for which they are grateful. Gratitude naturally allows for a discussion of God who has given us all things. Pray over the meal and express your gratitude for the Savior.
Share a meal with friends anytime in December and have Christmas centered questions to direct the conversation. You can ask everyone to share their favorite Christmas tradition, their favorite Christmas memory, something they love about Jesus, or which character in the Christmas story they would most want to be.
3. Share Your Testimony Online
When specific material makes you think of a specific person, share it directly; don’t just hope they see it on your Facebook wall. Write a personalized message along with the quote, talk or video. Explain that you thought of them when you read this talk or watched this video. You can start a conversation by adding a simple line such as, “I’d love to hear your thoughts.”
Then follow up and ask, “What did you think about the video/quote/talk I sent you?” They will read or watch the material preparing to share thoughts with you if you said you want to hear them. But they probably won’t volunteer those thoughts on their own. So ask!
Bobby Macey says,
That is true as you post to the masses and as you use social media to share one by one with individuals as the Spirit directs.
I say whether you’re 90 or 15, you can have an impact through social media.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf teaches us the far-reaching effect this can have when he says,
With the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children… Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.
4. Meet and Talk to Your Neighbors
My family growing up always delivered Christmas treats to family a neighbors. The ritual generally consisted of a singing a horribly off-key Christmas carol, handing over a plate of cookies and rushing off to the next house. But one year we slowed down a little bit. We delivered cookies to some neighbors we did not know and when they invited us in, we accepted. Those few minutes made all the difference and ten years later our friendship continues.
Even if you lived in your house for a dozen years and never met your neighbors, this is a perfect way to do it. And as you go to meet your neighbors, take time to do that. Don’t just hand them the cookies saying “Merry Christmas” and slip off their porch. Stay for a few minutes. Three minutes could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Remember, it’s all about not being rushed this season. Ask them questions. This is a great time to ask if they have a church to attend for a Christmas service. And if they don’t, invite them to come with you.
Find out what they do for a living, if they have kids and what they like to do. Find a common interest so you have something you can naturally invite them to do with you in the future.
Then when you bump into your neighbors while shoveling snow, taking out the garbage or hanging lights, slow down and talk to them (better yet, help them and talk while you do!). Your life is filled with youth activities, church services, the temple, and scripture study during this time of year. Use these simple opportunities to share more about them.
In his book The Power of Everyday Missionaries, Elder Clayton Christensen teaches an important habit: Use Mormon Words in Every Conversation. He says,
A friend gave me the first idea: to use religious words and “Mormon” words in my day-to-day conversations, such as these:
“I am so tired. I am the scoutmaster in our troop sponsored by the LDS Church, and I took the boys on an overnight camping trip last night.”
“I go to the Mormon Church in Belmont, and a friend who gave the sermon last Sunday said something that is exactly how we need to start this presentation.”
…And so on.
When I use these words in my conversation, it is like I am opening a door for people to a conversation about the Church.”
5. Share Insights From Your Scripture Study
As we discover new insights about the Lord and the Christmas story, we can share them so naturally at this time of year. When someone asks, “How is your day going?” instead of just responding, “Fine” we can say, “Great! When I was reading scriptures this morning I learned something really interesting about the Christmas story…”
Or when we are sharing things we are grateful at a Thanksgiving meal or activity, we can say, “I am really grateful for the scriptures. This year I have learned so much about Jesus as I have studied about Him in His word. For instance…”
Extend Invitations to Experience the Gospel
Preach My Gospel tells us that our purpose as missionaries is to “Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel.” We’re not just inviting them to come to church. We’re inviting them to come to Christ.
Dr. Dennis explains,
He then quotes Elder Neal A. Maxwell in saying “Let us…so love, tutor, and train our youth that the sweetness they experience in their Latter-day Saint homes will, thereafter, make the world taste sour to them!” Likewise as we invite our friends and family members to experience the sweetness of the gospel, they will be drawn to it.
It is more productive to invite people to the light than chase them from the darkness.
Here are five opportunities the holidays provide to invite others to experience the gospel.
1. Invite Neighbors to Church Activities
If we can view our ward parties as community parties sponsored by the Church, it is so natural to invite others to celebrate the holidays with us. Keep this mind-set with ward, Relief Society, Elder’s Quorum and Primary activities surrounding the holidays.
I recently invited a group of friends to our Halloween party. I wrote an email that said,
“Hi Friends. My church is hosting a Halloween carnival and trunk-or-treat this Saturday. If anyone is looking for a safe, easy Halloween activity for their kids, I’d love it if you want to join me.”
No one came, but several people responded apologizing that they couldn’t make it. We planned other times to get our kids together and I invited some of them to our Relief Society Christmas craft night and other to our Stake nativity display. Invitations open doors, even if it’s not the door you were thinking.
And often friends and family members will accept an invitation to accompany you to a Church-hosted holiday event. This is a great chance for someone to be inside a church building and meet members of the ward in a friendly non-intimidating way.
Elder Clayton Christensen explains in his book The Power of Everyday Missionaries,
“They need to know that the church building itself won’t be intimidating. In fact, we want them to feel that the church building is a sacred place because people like to return to places that they consider sacred, places where they know they will feel good.”
2. Participate in Your Christmas Program and Ask For Support
Your ward Christmas program is a wonderful event to invite friends to attend, especially if you or a spouse or child are singing in the choir or have a speaking part in the program. Tell your friends what to expect in a church service and ask them to come support you.
This is a great time to explain how a church service works—that members of the congregation participate by preparing talks or musical numbers—or to talk about callings, or the structure of the three-hour block with classes for adults, youth and children. You don’t need to get it all in now, but take advantage of the small opportunities to give glimpses of how the Church runs and how the gospel works.
3. Invite Friends to Sing in the Choir With You
Everyone loves to sing Christmas carols, and to sing them as part of a choir is magical. Lou Rawls, songwriter and recording artist, said
Elder Dallin H. Oaks adds, “Through the miracle of sacred music, the Spirit of the Lord descend[s] upon us, and we [are] made ready for gospel instruction and worship.”
Music is the greatest communication in the world.
Many of our friends would love, and be deeply touched by, the experience of worshiping Christ in a Christmas choir but they don’t have a choir they can join.
Again, if we can think of this as a church-sponsored community choir we feel comfortable inviting our friends to join it and they feel comfortable participating. This is a wonderful way to worship the Savior together as we enjoy the Christmas hymns.
4. Invite Loved Ones to Serve With You
Many of your friends are looking for ways to serve during the holidays. Invite them to serve with you. Don’t just carol to them, carol with them.
Elder Clayton Christensen shares an experience of asking a neighbor to help move a refrigerator for an elderly lady in the ward.
When Elder Christensen told him that he and his wife often help Church members moving in and out of the area, his neighbor said, “At our church we just listen to the sermon and go home. I have no idea who might need my help… Will you ask for my help again when you need an extra pair of hands? I like this kind of thing.”
Elder Clayton concludes,
Many people who are satisfied with their lives feel a need to give service. The Light of Christ creates this desire to help…When we involve them with us in serving others, they often find that the Church addresses an important need.
Invite your friends and family members to participate in your ward service projects. Ask them to help you deliver Thanksgiving dinners or wrap gifts for homeless children or make cookies for widows or collect winter clothing. Or ask them to help you with an assignment at the ward Christmas party.
Living the gospel means serving. The Church is full of opportunities to live our covenant promise to bear one another’s burdens. Your friends who are looking for ways to serve will find fulfillment in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Invite them to experience that aspect of the gospel with you. Eventually they will realize that they need the Church, but the Church also needs them.
5. Invite Friends to Watch Christmas Devotional and Concert
The Church’s Christmas Devotional is a wonderful, inspiring broadcast and the Christmas Concert is a delightful production that will be enjoyed by people of all ages. These are not a Church events; they are gifts from the Church to the world and wonderful opportunities to enjoy the Christmas spirit together. Invite friends over for popcorn or hot chocolate and watch these broadcasts together.
You can explain what the Conference Center is, other things the Church does for the world through humanitarian aid and your own community through fast offerings, or let them know about the Tabernacle Choir’s weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word.
Enjoy the beautiful music of the season and take advantage of small opportunities to teach more about the Church and the gospel.
Be aware of vocabulary used in the devotional that your friends may not understand. They may feel that interruptions are annoying or inappropriate, so don’t wait for them to ask. Just take a moment to explain new words or concepts to them, such as covenants, ordinances, stakes and wards, Bishops, priesthood, and plan of salvation.
If it is a concept that will take some time to explain, like the Atonement or the plan of salvation, you can give a short explanation such as, “That is referring to Christ suffering for our sins.” and then tell them you can discuss that more at the end. Your testimony will shine as you speak of things that are important to you and your faith.
You can also invite friends and family who are far away to watch the Devotional or Christmas Concert on their own. Bobby Macey says,
“Think of grandparents sharing the First Presidency Christmas Devotional each year with their children and grandchildren. If they have email, or any social media, they can share a link and a few words of their own and they’ll be connecting with their kids and grandkids in a way that the younger generation is accustomed to. It’s really a game changer.”
Share the Gospel with Strangers
After the shepherds saw the angels and found the baby Jesus, they made it known abroad. They did not keep these things for themselves and their closest friends; they realized this was a message for everyone and they were the only ones who knew it. What a great responsibility they felt!
Likewise, there are comparatively few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a message for everyone, and we are the only ones who have the fullness of the restored truth. What a great responsibility we have!
President Spencer W. Kimball said,
We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve.
Here are four ways to share the gospel with those we don’t yet know, but who God has given us to love.
1. Share Messages Through Social Media
In a USAToday article published in 2012, Marc Andreessen says, “The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories. People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.” Computers will either be our servants or our masters.
Similarly, in May Elder Ballard said in a CES Devotional, “Handheld devices, such as smartphones, are a blessing, but they can also distract us from hearing the ‘still, small voice.’ They need to be our servants, not our masters.”
The internet provides hundreds of ways to be distracted from our to-do lists and our divine purposes, but it also creates hundreds of ways to do good and share the gospel in a unique forum that allows us chat with strangers around the world.
Earlier this year, Elder Bednar urged members of the Church to flood the Earth with spiritual messages. Bobby Macey says,
It’s the fastest way we have to share the gospel worldwide right now. It empowers individuals to reach audiences they never dreamed of reaching at little to no monetary cost…there’s enormous capability to reach audiences by sharing the gospel in a visual way
Here are three paraphrased suggestions from Bobby Macey to make our media sharing successful.
- Make it relevant
- Don’t just share a talk or video. Share your thoughts on why it touched you, then share the link.
- A conference talk by itself will only make sense to followers or friends of the same faith. However, saying something like, “This really helped me recognize what great friends I have and how I need to be a better friend to all of you” and then sharing the talk, will go over better with friends of other faiths.
- Use Memes (picture images with a quote)
- Memes do very well on social media and are often seen and shared by people of other faiths.
- Note: Use the full name of the speaker (Jeffrey R. Holland, not Elder Holland) and the images will more likely be shared.
- Share existing content
- The Church produces wonderful material, such as the Christmas Devotional, Bible videos or Conference highlight videos
- Find quotes, talks, videos and memes from blogs and Pinterest boards. There are thousands of things already created to inspire and spread light throughout the world during the holidays and in-between.
He gives these additional suggestions of ways to use the internet as our servant as we act as God’s servants.
- Write an online gratitude journal
- The holidays are a great time to share feelings of gratitude and love. You can use your a blog, status update or other forums to post your feelings of gratitude.
- Consider posting one thing each day, five things each week or focus on a letter each day during the Thanksgiving season.
- Adapt this idea to write “Reasons I love Jesus” during the Christmas season
- Participate in hashtag campaigns
- Try new things
- John 7:17, “If any man shall do his will, he shall know of the doctrine…” Once you do it, you’ll gain a testimony of it.
- Ask someone from the younger generation for help if you need it.
2. Live the Gospel by Loving and Serving Others
The best way to share Christ is to be like Christ.
I love the story of a young crippled boy who worked at a newsstand in a busy train station. It was Christmas Eve. A busy passenger rushed by, knocking the boy from his stool and candies and newspapers off his stand. Another man came behind, stopping to pick up the boy and organize everything that spilled. He gave the boy $5 to cover the cost of the soiled newspapers.
As the man slipped back into the crowd, the boy called out to him, “Mister! Mister!” He turned as the young boy asked, “Are you Jesus Christ?”
Oh, how we want to be mistaken for the Savior. As we learn to see, feel and think like Him, we will begin to live like Him and our light will shine in such a way that God will be glorified and our brothers and sisters will come to Him.
This can happen in spontaneous acts of kindness or organized service projects. Both are plentiful during the holiday season, from smiling at a stranger to serving at the local soup kitchen or food bank, from helping shovel snow to making packages for the troops or wrapping toys for hospitalized children.
And these service opportunities are an important part of our discipleship. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explains, “Our Savior gave Himself in unselfish service. He taught that each of us should follow Him by denying ourselves of selfish interests in order to serve others” And the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet teaches
Service to others is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Certainly service is an important component of a Christ-centered holiday season, but Mosiah 4:27 reminds us to “ see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.” We must serve when we can, but be wise and in tune with the Spirit as we make decisions of when, where and how often to serve.
Don’t just serve silently; talk to strangers. Share your thoughts of Jesus, the greatest servant, whose life you are celebrating and emulating.
3. Share a Pass Along Card with Waitresses and Sales Clerks
We feel such pressure to hurry as we see the lines of people on Black Friday or groups waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Pause and see the needs of the harried sales clerk or waitress. Slow down. Smile. Share a pass along card and a simple message such as, “Merry Christmas. Thank you for serving me today. This is how I found Christ, the greatest servant of all.”
Sister Marjorie Hinckley shares this story of President Harold B. Lee: After two busy days of conferences the Hinckleys and Lees arrived at their hotel at 9:30pm and went to the restaurant to get dinner before finishing a tiring day. Even in his own busyness and exhaustion, President Lee took time to share a gospel message and get to know the young waitress who served them. Before finishing the meal, he arranged for missionaries to visit her.
We must learn to see the people around us for who really are—people, not obstacles to our to-do lists, or distractions from our own worries and stress. Let’s slow down and share our testimonies.
And then follow up. If this is a store or restaurant where you frequently go, check in with them later and ask what questions they have. If it is not, consider writing your email address on the pass along card if they have questions.
4. Participate in Family History Work and Temple Work
The Christmas story revolves around the temple.
- The angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias in the temple, declaring that he would have a son who would prepare the way for the Savior (Luke 1:9-21).
- Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord and offer sacrifice (Luke 2:22-24).
- The Holy Ghost led Simeon to the temple where he recognized Jesus as the Christ, fulfilling the promise that he would see the Savior before he died (Luke 2:25-35).
- Anna spent all of her time in the temple and she too recognized Jesus to be the Savior (Luke 2:36-38).
- Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to Jerusalem and the temple each year to celebrate Passover (Luke 2:41).
The temple is a place where Christ is recognized, proclaimed and shared. Let’s take time to make the temple a part of our Christmas story this year.
Strangers are waiting on the other side of the veil for the saving ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can spend some of our family time during the holidays getting to know ancestors who are currently strangers to us. This time of year when hearts are open, the hearts of the children will so easily turn to their fathers.
We can learn their stories and prepare to go to the temple to offer them the ordinances they need for eternal life. As we attend the temple and perform those ordinances in their behalf, they will be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph 2:19).
Elder Quentin L. Cook said,
What a wonderful way to celebrate what Christ offers to all of God’s children.
Temple and family history work is not just about us. Think of those on the other side of the veil waiting for the saving ordinances that would free them from the bondage of spirit prison.
How special the Christmas season will be this year as we join with the shepherds in seeking Christ and proclaiming the wonder of His life. Let us also be shepherds to watch over His sheep and lead them back to Him.