Sharing Time: The Prophet’s Example

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Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim. 4:12).

The Prophet’s Example

Has one of your friends ever said or done something to hurt you? That happened to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Not long after William W. Phelps joined the Church, he became one of the Prophet’s close friends. A well-educated man, he was appointed printer for the Church. He moved his family to Missouri and became a leader in the Church there.

Later, because of some faults he thought he saw in the Prophet Joseph, William left the Church. He became a bitter man and an enemy of the Prophet. He signed a certificate defending the actions of one of the enemies of the Church. Because of William’s and others’ actions, Joseph not only lost a loved and trusted friend, he and some of the other leaders of the Church were sent to prison! Joseph suffered for many miserable months in jail.

Two years later, William Phelps realized that what he had done was wrong. “I am as the prodigal son,” he wrote in a letter to the Prophet. “I know my situation, you know it, and God knows it, and I want to be saved if my friends will help me. … I have done wrong and I am sorry.”

He begged for Joseph’s forgiveness and asked to be received again as a member of the Church.

Joseph answered immediately with love and forgiveness. He wrote: “Believing your confession to be real, and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal. … ‘Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, / For friends at first, are friends again at last.’” *

In spite of the terrible things that William did to hurt the Prophet, Joseph forgave his friend, and William became a valiant servant of the Lord once more. He wrote the words to fifteen hymns; many of them were included in the first LDS hymnbook. One of them, “Praise to the Man,” was written especially about his forgiving friend, the Prophet Joseph.

Sometimes our friends say things or do things that hurt us. We can forgive them, just as the Prophet Joseph forgave his friend. Joseph told William that he wanted to follow the example of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He wanted to be as kind and forgiving as They are. We can do that, too. As we follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will be happy. We will be keeping our baptismal covenant, and we may be able to help our friends keep their covenants, just as the Prophet Joseph Smith helped his friend, William.

Latter-day “Examples of the Believers” Game

Our prophets are wonderful “examples of the believers” (see 1 Tim. 4:12). On pages 10–11 is a matching game to help you remember some of their good examples that you can follow. Mount pages 10–11 on heavy paper or lightweight cardboard. Cut out the pictures and the example-stories. Mix them all up well, then place them facedown on a table or other flat surface. With a friend or in a family home evening, take turns turning over one card and then trying to match it with the correct picture or example-story. When a match is made, the person making it reads aloud the example-story, then thinks of a way he/she might follow the example of the believer. (In a family home evening, the other players might suggest additional ways to follow the example.)

After his mother died, Gordon B. Hinckley felt responsible for his younger brother and sisters and helped them in many ways. He worked hard and saved money for his schooling. When it was time for his sister Ramona to graduate, he realized how important it would be to her to have a new dress for that special time. Thinking more about her needs than his own, he used some of his hard-earned money to buy her a beautiful new dress.

As a young boy, Howard W. Hunter was a dependable, hard worker. He helped his neighbors with mowing, yard work, and picking fruit. Sometimes he was paid for the work, but many times he did it just because he enjoyed helping others. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout—only the second boy in Idaho to earn Scouting’s highest rank.

Ezra Taft Benson was called “T” by all his friends and family. One day, a neighbor commented that “T” walked straight and tall. “Why shouldn’t he?” “T’s” uncle responded. “He’s the only boy I know who has never done anything of which he should be ashamed.” Competitive sports taught “Ezra T” an important lesson: “It is better to lose than to lose your temper.”

So that he could learn all the words by heart, Spencer W. Kimball practiced the hymns even while he milked cows. When a Church leader suggested that everyone read the scriptures, Spencer realized that he had never read the Bible. That very night he set a goal to read it from cover to cover. He lighted a little coal-oil lamp and began to read. He read a little every night. One year later, he had completed his goal.

When he was just a little boy, Harold B. Lee started to climb over a fence to explore some old buildings in a neighbor’s yard. He heard a voice saying, “Harold, don’t go over there.” Looking around, he could see no one, and he realized that the Spirit was warning him of danger, so he didn’t go. He never learned what the danger might have been, but he always testified that the experience had taught him that the Lord knew who he was and was watching over him.

Joseph Fielding Smith loved to study the scriptures. He finished his chores in a hurry so that he could go to his father’s library and study. When he was eighteen, he walked home from work each day, carrying a small copy of the New Testament, which he studied until it was too dark to read. Then he put the book in his pocket and worked on memorizing the scriptures he had just read.

David O. McKay loved to play baseball. Once, when he was at bat, the umpire called, “Strike two.” The pitcher thought that it was strike three and became angry, threatening to crack the bat over David’s head. Calmly David replied, “The umpire called only two strikes. Go back to the pitcher’s mound and try to get me out. You have one more chance.” On the next pitch, David got a two-base hit and then scored the winning run! Everyone cheered for him. They were glad that he had stood up to the bully when he knew that he was in the right.

As a young boy, George Albert Smith was very ill with typhoid fever, a disease that killed many people at that time. The doctor advised his mother to give him coffee to drink, but George refused it. Instead, he asked for a priesthood blessing from their ward (home) teacher. The next morning, when the doctor arrived, he found George Albert in the yard, playing. “I was grateful to the Lord for my recovery,” he said. “I was sure that He had healed me.”

“Laugh at yourself and keep trying” might have been the motto of young Heber J. Grant. His friends thought that he was too little and weak to play baseball, but he saved his money and bought his own ball. Then he practiced many hours and became a much better player. One day, he helped his team win the championship! His uncle challenged Heber and his cousin to read the Book of Mormon and offered a prize to the first one to complete it. Heber knew that if he read fast, he would not understand it, so he read slowly and still finished first!

Returning from a mission to Hawaii at the age of eighteen, Joseph F. Smith was stopped by drunken men threatening to kill any Mormon they could find. “Are you a ‘Mormon’?” one man demanded of Joseph F. in a loud, angry voice. Without hesitating, Joseph F. looked the man in the eyes and answered boldly, “Yes, siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through!” Surprised, the man took Joseph F.’s hand and said, “Well, you are the … pleasantest man I ever met! Shake, young fellow, I am glad to see a man that stands up for his convictions.” Then he and the other men rode off.

When Lorenzo Snow was a young boy, he ran for his life from a charging bull! He quickly climbed a tall white oak tree and sat shivering from cold as the bull pawed the ground around the tree and slashed the air with his horns. With teeth chattering and his hands numb, Lorenzo prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all your blessings. And please, dear Lord, tell my father to come and help me.” Just then, his father came riding on his horse and carrying a bullwhip. One crack from it sent the bull running. Lorenzo’s prayer had been answered by a loving Heavenly Father.

From his early teens, Wilford Woodruff searched for the true church. Once he gained a testimony that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God, Wilford tried to do everything the Prophet asked. When Joseph counseled the Apostles to keep a history of their lives, Wilford wrote daily in his journal. “Whenever I heard Joseph Smith preach, teach, or prophesy,” Wilford said, “I always felt it my duty to write it.” In the Church Historian’s office are stored seven thousand pages of Wilford Woodruff’s journals. The record he kept was invaluable for himself, his family, and the Church.

When John Taylor was a young boy in England, he felt a strong impression that he would go to America and preach the gospel. Several years later, his family moved to Canada. He joined the Church there, and a year later he met the Prophet Joseph. John not only preached the gospel in America, but he returned to England as a missionary. He also served missions in France and in Germany, and he became well-known for his ability to defend the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a young man, long before he learned about the Church and the Word of Wisdom, Brigham Young would not drink liquor. When others offered it to him, he always said, “No thank you, it’s not good for me.” He wrote in his journal, “I have conceived from my youth that I could have my liberty and independence just as much in doing right as I could in doing wrong.”

When Joseph Smith was only seven years old, a bone in his leg became infected. The infection grew worse until the doctor decided that part of the bone must be cut out. There was no hospital, and no anesthetic, so the doctor offered Joseph a drink of brandy (a kind of liquor) to ease his pain. Joseph would not drink it. The doctor wanted to tie Joseph to the bed so that he would not move during the operation. Again Joseph bravely refused. His father held him tightly in his arms all during the operation, which was successful. Joseph began to get better, and he grew strong and healthy.


Gordon B. Hinckley Gordon B. Hinckley Show kindness and concern for others.

Howard W. Hunter Howard W. Hunter Work hard and be dependable.

Ezra Taft Benson Ezra Taft Benson Have integrity.

Spencer W. Kimball Spencer W. Kimball Set hard goals and always do your best.

Harold B. Lee Harold B. Lee Listen to and obey the Spirit.

Joseph Fielding Smith Joseph Fielding Smith Study and memorize the scriptures.

David O. McKay David O. McKay Stand for the right.

George Albert Smith George Albert Smith Have faith to be healed.

Heber J. Grant Heber J. Grant Be persistent—keep trying.

Joseph F. Smith Joseph F. Smith Have courage.

Lorenzo Snow Lorenzo Snow Pray and know that prayers are answered.

Wilford Woodruff Wilford Woodruff Follow the prophet.

John Taylor John Taylor Be a valiant missionary.

Brigham Young Brigham Young Obey the Word of Wisdom.

Joseph Smith Joseph Smith Be brave.

Sharing Time Ideas

(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)

1. Ask the children to think of scriptural heroes whom they want to follow; have them tell why. Sing “Heroes of the Scriptures” (Friend, June 1998, p. 14). On slips of paper, write the name of each hero mentioned in the song and place the slips in a container. Let a child choose a slip, then act out a charade for the rest of the children to guess which hero was chosen. Discuss with the children the example of the scripture hero and identify the qualities they will follow. Help the children memorize 1 Tim. 4:12. Perhaps the younger children could learn just the first phrase, but challenge the older ones to learn it word-perfect. You might write on the chalkboard or large piece of paper the first letter of each word: B t a e o t b, i w, i c, i c, i s, i f, i p. Suggest to the children that they use the same method to help their families learn this scripture in family home evening.

2. Invite several adults to tell stories of people who have loved and served others. Use examples from your ward or neighborhood, or see the June 1996 Friend for several appropriate stories (especially pp. 2–4, 8–10, 28–30, 35–37, 40–41). Sing songs that correlate with the stories (see “Love” and “Service” in the Topics index of the CS). Have the children draw something they have done or will do to love and serve others. Assemble all the children’s pictures on a long sheet of paper to place in a roller box (see Teaching, No Greater Call, pp. 178–179) and show it to the children the following week in Primary. Have appropriate songs from the CS played while the children view their artwork.

3. For younger children: On six pieces of cardboard, draw stick figures representing Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Grandma, and Grandpa. The children could sit or stand in a circle and sing “Kindness Begins with Me” (CS, p. 145) as they pass the figures around the circle. When the song ends, have each child holding a figure tell one thing he/she could do to show love for that person in his/her family. For additional songs, see “Kindness,” “Service,” and “Love” in the Topics index of the CS. Give each child enough paper to prepare a set of figures representing her or his own family. Let the children take the figures home to share this activity with their families during a family home evening.

4. Additional Friend resources: “Samuel’s Scriptures” (Jan. 1998, pp. 2–3), “The Blind Postman” (June 1996, pp. 42–43), “Tami Cobb’s Sister” (Jan. 1997, pp. 40–43), “Speaking Kind Words” (Jan. 1997, pp. 26–27), “I Forgive You” (Sep. 1994, pp. 46–47). See also “Forgiving,” “Friendship,” and “Selfishness” in Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 186–189, 222–223.

From top left: Portraits by William F. Whitaker, William F. Whitaker, Knud Edsberg, Judith Mehr, David Ahrnsbrak, Shauna Clinger, Alvin Gittins, Lee Greene Richards, Charles J. Fox, Albert E. Salzbrenner, Lewis A. Ramsey, H. E. Peterson, A. Westwood, George M. Ottinger, Alvin Gittins

[illustration] Illustrated by Robert T. Barrett

Show References

  1.   *

    History of the Church, volume IV, pages 141–142, 163–164.


    Hymns, no. 27.