Right now I’m struggling with some of my younger roommates in Provo. They are really struggling to see the importance of the gospel in and doing some pretty immature stuff. Sometimes I get really frustrated with them, but I remember that I also had my own issues when I was their age. I want to be a good example to them, but I don’t want to come of as self righteous or send the wrong message. Any advice on how I could be better at that? Thanks!
First off I want to say I admire you. You sound like a very loving, righteous young man who cares deeply about the well being of other people, in particular your friends. You are to be commended for that. I respect you for caring about them and worrying about their long term salvation. You are also correct (and in a way, you answered your own question) by saying that you need to be a good example to them by your own behavior and not come across as obnoxious or holier than thou or send them the wrong message-which will just push them further from you and they’ll begin to isolate you from them. Instead of preaching to them or flooding them with requests to go to church or partake in a volunteer church activity you might want to focus on mutual interests. There is such a thing as “good, clean, fun” and there is nothing wrong with playing clean video games, shooting pool, going to sporting events, and appropriate movies or concerts.
The first thing I’d like you to remember is that they are your friends, and you will never agree with someone one hundred percent of the time. Humans are diverse and distinct and we don’t all feel the same way about all the same issues, even if we share religions, political views and the same basic morality. Human nature is such that we are programmed to be fundamentally different-and that’s okay. If we were all the same the world would be an incredibly boring place.
The next thing I’d like you to remember is that you should rarely let differences in morals or views be the sole reason to end a friendship or relationship. Common sense is needed in this of course-you don’t want to maintain a friendship with someone who is robbing banks, getting into bar fights, or engaging in repeated illegal activity with no thought of the consequences or how it effects others-but if you are friends with someone who sometimes does something you might not agree with (maybe uses a foul mouth, drinks alcohol occasionally, or watches R rated movies) it might be best to silently pray for them while maintaining your own standard of behavior. People generally respond better to how someone behaves rather than what they say. That old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” is one hundred percent correct.