Sharing Time: Heavenly Father Prepares the Prophet


And God saw these souls that they were good, … and he said: These I will make my rulers (Abr. 3:23).

Heavenly Father Prepares the Prophet

Did you know that when you were born, you had certain gifts and talents given to you? These gifts came from Heavenly Father to help you bless others here on earth. Heavenly Father also gave our prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, certain gifts and talents and prepared him to become the prophet for our day.

As a boy, he learned to work hard, to study and learn, to respect all people, and to know that the Church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

When President Hinckley was two years old, he became severely ill with whooping cough. The doctor told his mother that he needed good clean air to breathe. His parents bought a farm outside of Salt Lake City, and the family moved there during summer months. While there, young Gordon learned to work hard pruning trees, weeding gardens, and caring for animals. He learned that you could only harvest food after you had planted and cared for it. He learned that Heavenly Father blesses us, but He expects us to do the work first.

One day when President Hinckley was about five years old, he was sitting on his front porch with some friends. A family of another race walked down the street in front of the house. Young Gordon and his friends made some unkind remarks about the people. His mother heard what they said, and she took them inside to talk with them. She told them that all people are sons and daughters of God. That day he learned that we must respect and help one another, regardless of race, religion, wealth, or anything else.

President Hinckley grew up in a home where learning was very important. His parents had a room filled with over a thousand books, and he and his brothers and sisters often went there and read. When he was young, he didn’t enjoy school very much, but as he grew older, he began to enjoy it more and more. Now in his nineties, he still loves to learn.

Soon after he was ordained a deacon, his father took him to his first stake priesthood meeting. To open the meeting, the men sang a wonderful song about the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Praise to the Man” (Hymns, no. 27). Of that experience, President Hinckley said: “Something happened within me as I heard those men of faith sing. It touched my heart. … I felt a great moving power, both emotional and spiritual. I had never had it previously in terms of any Church experience. There came into my heart a conviction that the man of whom they sang was really a prophet of God. I knew then, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God.” That feeling never left him, and throughout his life, Gordon B. Hinckley has borne a powerful testimony of our first latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith.

In his patriarchal blessing, President Hinckley was told, “Thou shalt ever be a messenger of peace; the nations of the Earth shall hear thy voice and be brought to a knowledge of the truth by the wonderful testimony which thou shalt bear.” President Hinckley has been a messenger of peace throughout all the world. He has visited at least sixty countries and spoken to more than two million people. Everywhere he goes, he shares his love for the people. He cares about each individual in the Church. By his example, President Hinckley invites each of us to follow the example of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

President Hinckley’s Example

  1. 1.

    Mount page 18 on heavy paper, then cut out the booklet pages.

  2. 2.

    Fill in the blanks, telling what you can do to prepare to serve others by following President Hinckley’s example.

  3. 3.

    Punch two holes in the top of each page, put the pages in order, with the title page on top, then thread string or ribbon through the holes and tie the ends in a bow.

President Hinckley’s Example

President Hinckley(click to view larger)

Illustrated by Jerry Harston

1. President Hinckley worked hard—and still works hard. I can follow his example by ___________________________ .

2. President Hinckley studied and learned—and still does. I can follow his example by ___________________________ .

3. President Hinckley developed a testimony of Joseph Smith. I can follow his example by ___________________________ .

4. President Hinckley respects all people. I can follow his example by ___________________________ .

5. President Hinckley serves Heavenly Father. I can follow his example by ___________________________ .

Sharing Time Ideas

(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook; GAK = Gospel Art Kit)

1. Prior to Sharing Time, and using a piece of plain paper the same size as the picture of President Hinckley in the meetinghouse library or GAK 520, make a jigsaw-type puzzle. Number each piece, draw or write on it something depicting something from President Hinckley’s life, and cut out the pieces. (Examples of experiences from his life: working on a fruit farm; a newspaper carrier; sledding and skating; testimony of Joseph Smith; a patriarchal blessing; reading books; missionary service to England; building a house; writing scripts for Church radio, filmstrips, and movies; called as a stake president; called as an Apostle.) Cover his picture with the puzzle pieces.

In Sharing Time, explain to the children that they are to try to guess whose picture is under the puzzle as they take off each piece. Have volunteers draw, one at a time, a number from a container and remove the corresponding puzzle piece. As it is removed, tell what it represents. Choose a CS song that might reinforce the story being taught. (Examples: • missionary to England / “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” [p. 169] • working on a fruit farm / “When We’re Helping” [p. 198].) Discuss how all the things President Hinckley did prepared him to serve the Lord as our prophet. (See Friend, Oct. 1995, pp. 34–35.)

2. Invite the bishop/branch president to talk to the children about what it means when we raise our hands to sustain someone in a calling. Have him explain how members of your ward/branch sustain him by accepting callings, following his counsel, and praying for him.

Play a game about how we can sustain members in their callings. In a bag, place the titles of various Church callings, such as Primary teacher, music leader, Scoutmaster, Achievement Day leader. Have a child draw a title from the bag; then ask all the children how many ways they can support the person in that calling. Tell the children we also sustain our prophet, President Hinckley, by our actions. Have them list ways in which we can sustain him and choose one thing they will do during the coming week to sustain him.

3. Choose a few children to role-play (see Teaching, No Greater Call, p. 178) the stories from President Hinckley’s “Don’t Drop the Ball” (Friend, March 1997, IFC). Talk to the children about the temptations around them and about how they must not lose sight of what Heavenly Father expects us to do. Explain that sometimes we make mistakes and “drop the ball,” but we can repent and be forgiven.

Draw a large baseball mitt on a piece of paper and give each child a cutout ball to draw or write on. Have the children write/draw things they will do to not “drop the ball,” and attach the balls to the mitt. Give the mitt to the bishop/branch president.

4. Explain that President Hinckley is a wonderful example to each of us. He has shown us how we should live. He has counseled us to keep Heavenly Father’s commandments. From the GAK, select pictures depicting some of President Hinckley’s good qualities and counsel (hard work, obedience to parents, serving a mission, appreciating nature, respecting all people, testimony of Joseph Smith, temple work, scripture study, prayer, education and learning, etc.). Place the pictures on the wall. On the floor, place facedown pieces of paper with some of these qualities or teachings written on them. Have a child throw a beanbag onto a piece of paper, pick it up, and read it aloud. Help the children match the quality or teaching with the picture. Include songs to reinforce each quality or teaching.

5. Song Presentation: “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (Hymns, no. 19). Use role-playing, pictures from the GAK, and (if available in the meetinghouse library) Visual Aids Cut-outs (#08456 in the Church Materials Catalog) to help the children learn the first verse of the song. Have 8–10 children come to the front of the Primary. Give one boy a tie to wear as “prophet,” another child a Book of Mormon, and other children pictures depicting service (GAK 603–607, 612–615). Also give a child a two-sided wordstrip with “We thank Thee” on one side and “We feel it” on the other to hold up when those phrases are sung.

Explain that in the first verse, we thank Heavenly Father three times—first, for sending a prophet; second, for sending the gospel; and third, for every blessing. The verse ends with expressing our gratitude through cheerful service and obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

As you sing the first part of the song, up to “these latter days,” have the boy representing the prophet lead the others around in a circle. For the second part, up to “with its rays,” have the child with the scriptures hold them up. For the third part, up to “bounteous hand,” the children with the pictures/cutouts of home, family, and food should hold them up. While singing the last part, have the children with pictures of service and obedience (and a heart for “love”) hold them up. Repeat the verse several times using different children.

6. Additional Friend resources: “President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Oct. 1995, pp. 34–35; “Gordon B. Hinckley—Constant As the North Star” (music), June 1996, pp. 14–15; “Look, Feel, and Help,” July 1996, pp. 44–45; “Testimony,” Oct. 1998, IFC.

[photo] President Hinckley as a boy with his family (back row, second from left)

[photo] Above, he is shown (right) with his brother.