The Prophet Joseph Smith enjoyed playing games with children. This was no surprise to those who knew the Prophet; he often showed his love for children. He once helped two children out of thick mud when they were stuck. He played with and loved little babies. When the Prophet played with children, he made the games fun, both for those participating and those watching.
One day Joseph played a game of ball with some of the young men in Nauvoo. The Prophet’s older brother Hyrum saw him. Hyrum had a great love for his brother, and he didn’t like to see people given a chance to find fault with him. Hyrum was afraid that if people saw Joseph having fun with the young men, they might think this wasn’t what a prophet should do.
After the ball game, Hyrum approached Joseph and said that such conduct was not proper for a prophet of the Lord. He spoke out of love, wishing to guide his brother.
The Prophet looked lovingly at Hyrum. He knew Hyrum was concerned about him, and he trusted and often listened to the advice of his older brother. But this time Joseph simply answered him in a mild voice. “Brother Hyrum, my mingling with the boys in a harmless sport like this does not injure me in any way, but on the other hand it makes them happy and draws their hearts nearer to mine; and who knows but there may be young men among them who may sometime lay down their lives for me!”1
The Prophet Joseph was right. When persecution again started for him, two young men in Nauvoo risked their lives to discover the Prophet’s enemies and their plots against him. The young men showed how much they had come to love the Prophet by how much they risked their own safety for his. Joseph Smith dearly loved children, and they loved the Prophet too.
“Men who knew Joseph best … loved and sustained him as a prophet.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Joseph, the Man and the Prophet,” Ensign, May 1996, 73.