Leaders: Be Mindful of Your Example
Excerpt from the talk titled: The Davids and the Goliaths by Spencer W. Kimball
Long years ago when I was in the stake presidency in the St. Joseph Stake in Arizona, one Sabbath day I filled an assignment in the Eden Ward. The building was a small one, and most of the people were sitting close to us as we sat on the raised platform about a foot and a half above the floor of the building itself.
As the meeting proceeded, my eye was attracted to seven little boys on the front seat of the chapel. I was delighted with seven little boys in this ward conference. I made a mental note, then shifted my interest to other things. Soon my attention was focused on the seven little boys again.
It seemed strange to me that each of the seven little fellows raised his right leg and put it over the left knee, and then in a moment all would change at the same time and put the left leg over the right knee. I thought it was unusual, but I just ignored it.
In a moment or two, all in unison would brush their hair with their right hands, and then all seven little boys leaned lightly on their wrists and supported their faces by their hands, and then simultaneously they went back to the crossing of their legs again.
It all seemed so strange, and I wondered about it as I was trying to think of what I was going to say in the meeting. And then all at once it came to me like a bolt of lightning. These boys were mimicking me!
That day I learned the lesson of my life—that we who are in positions of authority must be careful indeed, because others watch us and find in us their examples.
Example is an important characteristic of a boy’s life. Generally there are many people who will follow and few who will lead. It is therefore important that all you young men develop the power of leadership and then all be sure to give good examples.
This will be true in your lives. If you have little brothers, remember that they watch you and listen to you, and they are likely to do about what you did and say about what you said.
I hope you will keep this in mind as you come to teenage. Remember that, generally, if you attend your meetings and if you do your duty, it is quite likely that your little brothers will follow your course, and the opposite is also true.
This is also true as to your missionary work. If your little brothers see you faithful in seminary and institute and that you have the right attitudes and that you are preparing yourself to fill a mission, their thoughts will be along the same line.
It was Terence who said: “I bid him look into the lives of men as though into a mirror, and from others to take an example for himself.”
And in Aesop’s fables, Aesop said, “Do but set the example yourself, and I will follow you.”
Example is the best precept, and [Samuel] Johnson said that “Example is more efficacious than precept.”