Image retrieved from Mormon.org
Being a celebrity probably isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Oh, there’s money, sure—but the price of fame ensures that every decision made will be highlighted, every fashion choice scrutinized, and every mistake magnified. Though this prominence may be taxing at times, it does provide those who have it with a unique opportunity to publicly express their opinions and stand for their beliefs.
Many not of our faith have provided the Church with exposure and renown, both on the screen and on the stage. It’s been said that “any publicity is good publicity,” and that may be true—but the best publicity comes straight from the source.
Mormons have the responsibility to act like a disciple of Christ in word and deed, and for a Mormon who’s under the constant watchful eye of the public, that responsibility naturally compounds. Luckily, there are plenty of famous members whose actions reflect positively on the Savior—and some of them are even returned missionaries.
Lindsey Stirling (New York City)
Violinist, composer, dancer, and internet sensation Lindsey Stirling has performed all over the world. She’s played with John Legend, Michael Buble, and Josh Groban, and her YouTube videos have generated over a billion views. But before the fame, Lindsey did something that she still considers to be “one of the best journeys of [her] life.”
She went on a mission.
“Every day you are thinking about others,” Lindsey bloggedof her experience. “I learned so much about relationships, love, and being selfless.”
For 18 months, Lindsey put aside her adoration of popular music and stylish clothing as she taught the restored gospel to the people of New York City. “This was a big sacrifice,” she said, “but it was so worth it . . . . I had to reach down inside myself and realize that there is more to me than my desires, my style, and my hobbies.” She continued, “God helped me discover a new side of myself.”
Though she’s now a household name, Lindsey still feels the effects of her mission. “I feel my mission was preparatory for my mission in life,” she told theDeseret News. “It prepared me to do what I’m now doing and use it . . . to try to bring light to people . . . . I will be forever grateful that I got to serve a mission.”
Jeremy Guthrie (Spain)
Image retrieved from Instagram
On October 24th, 2014, the collective eyes of the sports world were on Jeremy Guthrie. A star pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, the 35-year-old Guthrie took the mound in Game 3 of a World Series that was tied at one game apiece. Under the daunting lights of baseball’s biggest stage, Guthrie stole the show—giving up only four hits and earning a critical road win.
But what many people don’t know is that Guthrie didn’t always plan on making it to that stage. After a frustrating freshman season at BYU, he made the decision to give up baseball and serve a mission. “I left my glove behind, I left my ball behind . . . because that’s really what is asked of a missionary,” he said in a press conference. “And when I came back, I had no expectations.”
Shortly thereafter, Guthrie transferred to Stanford University, where he found success and eventually paved a path to the pros. “I knew that whatever happened for me would be [God’s] will,” he said, “and the more I asked myself questions about why my baseball career turned around . . . the only answer I had was that [it] was just a tremendous blessing.”
Many years later, Guthrie still credits his successes in life to his service. “What I learned as a missionary,” he said, “is the foundation for everything that happens to me.”
Elaine Bradley (Germany)
“It started with a whisper.”
The lyrics to one of Neon Trees’ most popular songs could also accurately describe the spiritual transformation of their drummer, Elaine Bradley. A rock and roll girl since birth, Elaine’s musical prowess brought her into an environment where, in her younger years, she made some poor decisions. However, a series of spiritual promptings inspired her to eventually serve a mission in Germany.
Shortly after returning home, Elaine teamed up with fellow returned missionaries Tyler Glenn, Chris Allen, and Branden Campbell to form Neon Trees. Since then, the band has enjoyed tremendous success—touring with Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift, performing on late night talk shows, and climbing the Billboard charts.
“When I had [my] spiritual realization,” Elaine told Mormon Women, “I quit drinking, I quit doing drugs . . . I just quit it all.” Now, as key players in an industry that encourages riotous living habits, Neon Trees has a policy of abstinence. “There’s definitely a moral strength and comfort that comes from it,” she said. “[Drugs and alcohol are] never a temptation because we’ve already agreed.”
Whatever heights she and her bandmates reach, Elaine is devoted to remaining grounded in the gospel—and she credits her determination to her missionary service. “From then on I was committed,” she said. “I never wavered after that.”
Mitt Romney (France)
Image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons
“I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it,” said Mitt Romney in a speechhe delivered during his first campaign for President of the United States. “Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.”
Romney has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in business and politics. He’s been a presidential candidate, the CEO of a major corporation, and he even rescued the 2002 Olympics. Being one of the most powerful men in the country has its perks, but Romney’s prominence in the public arena has left him vulnerable to harsh criticism on the basis of his religion. However, despite the opposition, Romney remains true to the faith.
Image courtesy of Mitt Romney
Perhaps his service as a missionary has something to do with that. Romney’s testimony strengthened dramatically over the course of his 30-month mission in France. “Being in a foreign place [preaching] in a foreign language [about] a foreign faith, you do a lot of soul-searching about what you really believe,” he said.
But Romney put forth the effort, and it paid off. A fellow missionary of then-Elder Romney told a French news service, “I’ve never known a harder worker than he.” After serving an honorable mission, Romney returned home with the leadership skills that would make him one of the most successful businessmen and politicians of the last century.
The strain and spirit of Romney’s missionary service have shaped the rest of his life. “On a mission, your faith in Jesus Christ either evaporates or it becomes much deeper,” he said. “For me, it became much deeper.”
David Archuleta (Chile)
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Serving a full-time mission in Chile, David Archuleta thought he had, for the time, put his singing career behind him—but the Church had a different idea. “My mission president . . . called me,” David said in an interview with FM 100.3. “He said, ‘We have a special request from the Church. We don’t want to distract you from your work, but we think this is a good missionary opportunity.’”
The opportunity, as it turned out, was to record the song “Glorious” for the Church-produced documentary Meet the Mormons.
An accomplished and popular singer, David is used to taking requests—but singing “Glorious” proved to be a little more challenging than he expected. “When I recorded it the first time, I had a Spanish accent,” he said. “I couldn’t pronounce the words very well.”
Amidst all the hype, though, David admits that something was missing. “As I was in the wave after American Idol . . . the only focus was trying to make everybody else happy, and in the process, I lost myself,” he said. “I’m so grateful for the mission because I found myself again.”
David cites the decision to serve as one of the best he’s ever made. Despite considerable pressure from people within the music business to stay home, the choice was ultimately his. “It’s not because someone told me that I’m supposed to do it, and not because I no longer want to do music,” he said upon announcing his departure. “I’ve felt I need to do this with my life.”
Click here for a DVD about David’s missionary service!
American Idol runner-up David Archuleta surprised fans in 2011 when he announced that he was putting his music career on hold to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In David Archuleta: Called to Serve, see the pop star proselyting on the streets of Chile, hear why he decided to serve, and how his faith directs every decision in his life.