5 Highlights for “Followers of the Prince of Peace” by Elder Soares

by | May 10, 2023

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5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

Can I say enough about this talk? Elder Soares gets an A+. I haven’t done much with Elder Soares’s talks in the past – but this one is second only to President Nelson’s talk (says me).

Soares (Swáh-ezz)

To be sure, it is full of back-to-back beautiful, unique, and timely quotes. Elder Soares goes right to the heart of one of our biggest challenges of existence. Dealing with difficult people and not being a difficult person ourselves. As our world falls into even more significant, loveless chaos – our need for strength to swim upstream also increases.

This lesson can foster a hearty discussion that blesses everyone who participates.

You can find his full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by Elder Ulisses Soares (unless otherwise noted).


Lesson Prep

  • If I were teaching this lesson, I would probably do quotes 1,2,4,3, and 5 in that order.
  • Please don’t worry if you only get through a couple of quotes. Discussion is golden; it resonates and teaches more than a lecture covering all points will.

Quote #1 (no matter)

Possible engagement tool: Tell your group that Elder Soares lists some fundamental attributes we need to develop to get close to the Savior. See which one stands out to you today.

Another important aspect to emphasize, and one that has direct implications on our discipleship and how we promote the peace of the Savior, is the manner in which we treat each other. During His earthly ministry, the Savior’s teachings focused—not only, but particularly—on the virtues of love, charity, patience, humility, and compassion—fundamental attributes to those who want to become closer to Him and promote His peace. Such attributes are gifts from God, and as we strive to develop them, we will begin to see our neighbor’s differences and weaknesses with more empathy, sensitivity, respect, and tolerance. One of the most evident signs that we are drawing closer to the Savior and becoming more like Him is the loving, patient, and kind way with which we treat our fellow beings, whatever the circumstances.

Oh goodness – the last little phrase. “…whatever the circumstances.”

Wham! Our justifications aren’t valid.

I’m generally a nice, friendly person who tries to be thoughtful and give service and have a pretty good temper and head about me…most of the time. That describes a lot of us.

It’s that last little bit that truly qualifies our discipleship. “Whatever the circumstances.” President Nelson used a very similar phrase in his talk about Peacemakers. “The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire—no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.”

“No matter how difficult” — “whatever the circumstances.”

I now wear a black silicone rubber band around my wrist and snap it whenever I trespass across the Savior’s clearcut lines. I’m becoming more aware and getting better.

Attributes

  • love
  • charity
  • patience
  • humility
  • compassion
  • patience
  • kindness

The bottom line – we can no longer justify our weak moments with the majority of our better moments. We’ve been doing that and coasting along at the same speed for a long time. Honestly, it’s the difficult moments, with difficult people that qualify whether we are compassionate, patient, kind, loving and a true follower of Christ.

Divine Code – Shawnie Cannon

If someone is nice 75% of the time and mean-spirited, rude, or unkind 25% of the time – do we characterize them as “nice.” Not really, because they’re unsafe. Or if they’re nice to most people or their friends but notably mean, disdainful, or arrogant to others — do we generally think of them as compassionate? We don’t! That’s how Christ described the publicans and sinners – nice to their friends and associates but not to others.

Possible quick discussion question: Which attribute stands out for you today? Why is that one important to you? According to Elder Soares, what do we need to become close to the Savior? (accept all reasonable answers – love, charity, patience, humility, and compassion) What does the phrase “whatever the circumstances” mean to you? (accept all reasonable answers – for me, the phrase means Elder Soares’s words were targeted right at me, and I have some work to do.) What helps you have more compassion and patience? Do we need heaven’s help to become better at those attributes?

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)

Quote #2 (gossip)

We often see people who engage in negative and even derogatory comments about the perceived characteristics, weaknesses, and opinions of others, mainly when such characteristics and opinions differ or contradict how they act and think. It is very common to see these people passing on such comments to others, who repeat what they heard without truly knowing all the circumstances surrounding a situation. Unfortunately, social media encourages this kind of behavior in the name of relative truths and transparency. Without restraint, digital [all] conversation often leads people to personal attacks and heated disputes, creating disappointments, wounding hearts, and spreading flaming hostility.

Possible discussion questions: Is social media the only place people pass on negative and derogatory comments about others? Who wants us to spread bad news, dirty laundry, and swipe at people’s reputations, Satan or Christ? (Whose design is gossip?) What is compassion, and how can it help us to do better? What can you do when you find yourself in a gossipy situation without coming across as holier than thou?

compassion: empathy, understanding, care, concern, sensitivity

Possible activity idea: Cut these seven excuses into a bowl/hat/bag. Tell your group you have seven justifications for gossiping. Have people draw one and read them one by one. Suggest they quietly note which one they can relate to.

Possible 2nd activity: repeat the same activity with the three ways to get out of gossip -or- hand them out as quotes and have people read them.

Possible 3rd activity: Or make both the seven excuses and 3 tips into a handout and ask people what stands out for them from these suggestions.

Top 7 Excuses We Use to Justify Our Gossip Habits

  1. It’s fun! There’s nothing like a bit of gossip to introduce spice, relieve stress and pass the time.
  2. It helps me process things. When I’m frustrated with a colleague or manager it really helps to talk things over with someone I can trust, a confidant. It makes me understand the problem better and get over it. And because I trust this person, I can truly allow myself to let it all out (in other words, be nasty with no restraints).
  3. They deserve it. The person that I’m gossiping about practically asked for it—their behavior justifies me talking/complaining/gossiping about them.
  4. It’s easier to talk about it than to confront the person. The person who triggered my frustration is so difficult (or defensive, or aggressive) that it is simpler and more constructive to talk about them than to address the matter directly. Talking to that problematic person is futile and might even backfire.
  5. I need confirmation from someone objective. I need to hear that I am correct in my perception and justified in my upset.
  6. I (or we as a group) simply need to vent. I need to release steam or else I will explode. Venting is a healthy, normal, and justified activity.
  7. Gossiping helps me to (unconsciously) gain dominance, control, or strategic advantage. By pulling others into my discussion about the person’s shortcomings I am creating a mini community from which the person that we are talking about is excluded. I gain a position of importance within this group and an advantage over the person who is the subject of the discussion. (Courtesy of Bar-David Consulting)

Please read this to your group or paraphrase in your own words before you go over the three tips. “Be careful you don’t do any of the following suggestions with a holier-than-thou tone or body language. The idea is to win people over – not to create ill will or put people down. Gossip is hard-embedded into our culture and society. It will take saintly leadership qualities to turn it around. So let’s be careful we don’t alienate people in the process”!


I found these three tips online.

How To Get Out of Gossiping Politely

  • Disengagement – don’t reply, don’t be drawn in, and leave (note: this is only effective and credible to others if you don’t gossip yourself).
    Ideas: excuse yourself politely from the situation and leave. Tell them you need to make a call, have a meeting, need to get to class, have to pick up the kids from practice, whatever true statement can be made, and then leave. Don’t participate or get pulled in.
  • Harder to do but more effective: When the person gossiping finishes their negative comments about another person, turn it around by saying something positive about the person. For example: “I know you think Sarah is pretty crazy, but I have to tell you she is an incredible parent. I saw her with her young daughter the other day and she was……..” Turning the conversation to the positive about the person typically stops the gossiper in their tracks. You didn’t criticize the gossiper, which avoids them becoming defensive. You simply changed the tone and direction to a positive dialogue. It works like magic.
  • Most courageous: “I don’t feel comfortable talking about Sam like this. What I do want to talk to you about is this great movie I saw last week, it’s called The Heights. Have you seen it yet?”. Changing the subject to a safe topic also works great.

Every conversation with others is an opportunity to develop a relationship into something special. When you add something of value, you move it on. When you don’t, you move it back. That’s why one of the most essential rules of masterful communication is: watch what you say. (I love this last bit! Tips and last comment borrowed from Fox News 13)

Quote #3 (tricks)

Possible engagement tool: Invite your group to listen to how Elder Soares uses the word “tricks” twice in this quote. Why would he choose that word?

If we are not careful with our thoughts, words, and actions, we may end up being entangled by the cunning tricks of the enemy, destroying our relationships with the people around us and our loved ones.

Brothers and sisters, as the Lord’s peculiar people and promoters of His peace, we cannot afford to allow these tricks of the evil one to take place in our hearts. We cannot carry such a corrosive burden that destroys feelings, relationships, and even lives. The gospel represents good tidings of great joy.

trick: stratagem, ploy, deception, hoax, swindle

Possible discussion questions: What stands out for you from this quote? How can we keep the tricks of Satan out of our hearts? Why is it important to realize who is the author of derogatory comments and negativity? What is the opposite of Satan’s design? (accept all reasonable answers, good tidings of great joy) How does Satan deceive us into destroying the relationships within our ward or our families? What can help us stay focused on “good tidings of great joy”? (accept all reasonable answers – also…cutting negativity and resentment out of our lives – cultivating the gift of forgiveness and peace.)

Quote #4 (list)

This quote is so good – it might make a good ending quote if you are short on time.

My dear brothers and sisters, as we strive to develop attributes like the Savior’s, we can become instruments of His peace in the world according to the pattern that He Himself established. I invite you to consider ways we can transform ourselves into uplifting and supportive people, people who have an understanding and forgiving heart, people who look for the best in others, always remembering that “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

Are you

  • uplifting
  • supportive
  • understanding
  • forgiving

Do you

  • find the best in others
  • highlight what is virtuous, lovely, of good report (news), and praiseworthy around us.

Possible discussion questions: What does “seek after” mean? (accept all reasonable answers – we give that priority, and it’s our norm.) Have you had an experience lately where someone uplifted and supported you? How does it feel to be around people who are understanding and forgiving? Private question: About whom do you need to upgrade your thought processes and actions?

Quote #5 (promise)

This is a great closing statement or a quick insert quote if the direction of discussion calls for it.

I promise you that as we pursue and develop these attributes, we will become more and more cordial and sensitive to the needs of our fellow beings and will experience joy, peace, and spiritual growth. Undoubtedly, the Lord will recognize our efforts and give us the gifts we need to be more tolerant and patient with one another’s differences, weaknesses, and imperfections. Furthermore, we will be better able to resist the urge to take offense or offend those who hurt us. Our desire to forgive, as the Savior did, those who mistreat us or speak evil about us will surely increase and become part of our character.

This is a bit wry, but some of us have the perfect laboratory in our homes. We can become this person and have the ideal training ground to do so…

Summary

Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Soares’s talk (pronounced Swah-rez). Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

Thank you so much for researching this lesson and helping to create Zion.

Wow, this is a brave lesson! It’s also an empowering, necessary lesson. None of us can call down much power from heaven without first abiding by these precepts. There is so much to gain from mastering this topic in your life. Many blessings to you as you share this lesson with others and model it for years to come

If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” Please put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you.


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1 Comment

  1. Beth

    Shawnie,
    I enjoyed your 5 Highlights for the Followers Of the Prince of Peace article. It has literally changed my life. I was justifying some behaviors and thoughts, and now I see where I need repentance. It was a truly life-changing article for me. Thank you.

    Reply

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