Lessons Learned From A Butterfly

Monarch egg on a milkweed leaf

In a talk given to over 2,000 teenagers in Bountiful, Utah by Elder Neil L. Anderson, he talked about 4 spiritual lessons individuals can learn from the monarch butterfly.

1. You are a child of God with eternal possibilities available to you.

“You are a child of God with eternal possibilities available to you, and one of the greatest things you can do with your life is to accept who you are, where you came from, and where you are going,” he said. “Now, with a monarch butterfly it is very innate. We as sons and daughters of God feel this is true, but we must confirm it and believe it.”

Cycle2Monarch caterpillar

“Come to believe that you are a child of God,” he said. “Sometimes when you feel like you are a caterpillar and say to yourself: ‘I’m not smart, I’m not very coordinated, I’m different, I don’t have this, I don’t have that’—keep in mind who you are. We don’t all have to be the same. We come in different sizes, different shapes, different colors. Some have some talents, some have others; we don’t have to be exactly like someone else.”

Individuals must look on their potential and think, “One day I will fly,” Elder Andersen taught.


2. To become who God would have you become, you will need the gifts of the Savior and your own correct choices.

Elder Andersen explained the process a caterpillar goes through to become a beautiful butterfly. He showed a time-lapse video showing the metamorphosis of a caterpillar weaving the chrysalis and finally emerging as a butterfly.


Much like the caterpillar, individuals have the potential to become something beautiful. In one’s youth, they make decisions that set the stage for the rest of their life.

“Inside each of you, there is a development going on,” he said. “Help that development move toward what you want to become. What happens inside of you is very important, and it is important when you are young.”

It is through making right decisions and relying on the Atonement for course corrections when needed that people are able to stay close to Heavenly Father and help others to do the same.  “When we do things that are wrong, there must be a way to be forgiven, and only He can do that. But there are things we do that make it possible.”

“We have times we have to repent, we have to change. But let us be the ones who are true and faithful that others can come to us, and let us help them.”

Elder Andersen, quoting from For the Strength of Youth, said: “The Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you. He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges. You will … come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and feel Their love for you.”

3. Your spiritual senses are refined and delicate and are protected by honesty and obedience.

A butterfly’s wings are very delicate and refined, and so are spiritual gifts and powers, Elder Andersen said.

monarch-emerging (1)

“The Holy Ghost is like that,” Elder Andersen declared. “You can’t just go one night and do whatever you want and forget what you know to be true and think in a day or two, or a week or two, everything is going to be fine.”

It is through taking responsibility and doing those things that will bring individuals closer to Heavenly Father that will help their delicate and refined testimony.

Quoting from For the Strength of Youth: “You are responsible for the choices you make. … Have the moral courage to stand firm in obeying God’s will even if you have to stand alone.”

4. As you see beyond yourself, you begin to see who the Lord would have you become.


“Somehow, somewhere in your life, you have to see your life bigger than you,” he said.

Elder Andersen shared the southern migration pattern of butterflies. Four generations of butterflies are needed to complete the cycle and find their way home in the north.  Just like the butterflies, each individual has an important role in helping the next generation return home.  Drawing from his wife, Sister Andersen’s family, Elder Andersen spoke of her relative who joined the Church in 1898 in Florida and now, five generations later, how their family is full of Church members. Elder Andersen showed a picture of his two grandsons Clayton and Christian Hadlock, who also participated that evening, and spoke of how they fit into the generations that came before.  “They are part of what all of these generations brought into their lives, and they have a responsibility,” he said.


“Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  He loves you, and He will help you become what you need to become.” 

One of the foundations of our lives needs to be the scriptures.  Elder Anderson implored the youth to read them daily – not for school, or church, or seminary, or because someone wants them to  – but because they want to do it for themselves.  Speaking further, he specifically talked about the Book of Mormon and how it increases our understanding and love for our Savior, Jesus Christ – who is our sure foundation.

“If I could convince you, persuade you, implore you to on your own read the Book of Mormon—not just with your family, not just in seminary, not because someone asks you to do it but because you want to, something you don’t report to anyone—it could be a year you would always remember and would set a foundation for you forever.”

“In your lifetime … you will better understand why this sacred book testifies that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”  Elder Andersen encouraged all to kneel by their beds, alone when no one is looking, and to put to practice Moroni’s promise.

“That manifestation comes usually line upon line,” he said. “My understanding of the Book of Mormon is clear; it is a physical manifestation of God’s love for us and that He knows us. Jesus is the Christ, and He has restored this gospel.”


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