Last night as I was reading the Book of Mormon, I was in Alma 17. It is the story about Ammon when he went to the Land of Ishmael. King Lamoni was pleased with him and wanted Ammon to marry one of his daughters. Ammon said he would not, but that he would be the king's servant.
Ammon goes to take the king's flocks to get water. The flocks are scattered and the other servants become dejected, but Ammon takes courage and sees an opportunity to be an example. Verses 27 through 30 are some of my favorites of the whole chapter:
27 Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways.
28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
29 Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.
30 And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.
My favorite part of these verses is how Ammon optimistic. It would have been really easy for him to be sorrowful just like his fellow servants and fear the king. But instead, he saw an opportunity and took it. Not only that, but I love the end of verse 30: "those whom he termed to be his brethren." To me, that is the true spirit of being an example. Being an example isn't just showing people "how its done," so to speak. I'ts really caring about the people and wanting them to follow the example you are setting because you love them.
Ammon's story continues. He protects the sheep from those who want to scatter them (verses 34-38), and then returns to water the flocks. Verse 39 simply says, "And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king..."
Ammon's fellow servants tell King Lamoni about how Ammon had so heroically protected the flocks from their contenders. As the king hears the full story, he is astonished and wants to know where Ammon was then. His servants reply, "Behold, he is feeding thy horses" (Alma 18:9).
Ammon went to the Land of Ishmael in order to preach the gospel to the people there. The thing I love about this story is how he begins with simply being a good example. It's as people always say: actions speak louder than words.
I know that as we strive to be examples to those around us, they will notice. We probably won't recognize it when they notice, but they will. I know that God has put us where we are today because we need to be there, to both influence and be influenced by the people in our every day lives. We have things we need to do. Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. We might not know what it is, but He does. I know that as we trust in the Lord, He will bless us and guide us. I know that as we diligently read the scriptures and pray to God, we will have the companionship of the Holy Ghost and be inspired as to what to do and say to those around us. Most of all, I know that Heavenly Father loves me individually, as he loves each and every one of us!