Lesson 34: Obedience

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 119–22


Each young man will understand that he can show love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by obeying the commandments.


  1. 1.

    Scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Pencils for marking scriptures.

  3. 3.

    A few hymnbooks (or write the words of “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” hymn no. 19, on a poster or on the chalkboard).

Suggested Lesson Development

Obedience Is a Basic Principle of the Gospel


Have the young men listen to the story of how one young man displayed the principle of obedience.

“A young boy was playing baseball with his friends when his mother’s voice came loud and clear, calling, ‘Charlie, Charlie!’ He instantly threw down his bat, picked up his jacket and cap, and started for home.

“‘Don’t go yet; finish the game!’ cried the other players.

“‘I must go right this minute. I told my mother I would come when she called,’ was Charlie’s response.

“‘Pretend you didn’t hear,’ said the boys.

“‘But I did hear,’ said Charlie.

“‘She won’t know you did.’

“‘But I know it, and I’ve got to go.’

“One of the boys finally said, ‘Oh, let him go. You can’t change his mind. He’s tied to his mother’s apron string. He’s such a baby he runs the minute she calls.’

“As he ran off, Charlie called back, ‘I don’t call it babyish to keep one’s word to his mother. I call it manly, and the boy who doesn’t keep his word to her will never keep it to anyone else’” (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p. 65; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, pp. 43–44).

Chalkboard and discussion

Write obedience on the chalkboard.

  • What does obedience mean?

Let the young men answer the question; help them understand that to obey is to do what one is told or to comply with authority or law. Obedience is one of the most important and basic laws of God.

Scriptures and discussion

Have the young men take turns reading the following scriptures as the others follow along and mark their scriptures.

Discuss what each scripture has to do with obedience. You may want to summarize these points on the chalkboard.

  1. 1.

    Abraham 3:24–25 (We were sent to earth to see if we would obey.)

  2. 2.

    John 14:15 (If we love the Savior, we will keep his commandments.)

  3. 3.

    1 Nephi 3:7 (The Lord will prepare a way for us to obey his commandments.)

  4. 4.

    Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 (The Lord will do his part if we obey.)

  5. 5.

    Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21 (All blessings are based on obedience to particular laws.)

  6. 6.

    Matthew 7:21 (Only those who obey will live with Heavenly Father.)

Have a young man quote the third article of faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Testify that obedience is a basic principle of the gospel. If we have faith in Jesus Christ, we will keep his commandments and become like him. Only by being obedient can we return to our Heavenly Father’s presence.

Great Men Are Obedient


Men of God have always placed great emphasis on obedience. Share the following quotation with the class:

“When President N. Eldon Tanner returned from presiding over the European missions, he was asked what, in his opinion, was the most important attribute of a successful individual or missionary. After a short pause, pondering the implication of such a question, he spoke one word: ‘obedience’” (Ted E. Brewerton, in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, p. 92; or Ensign, May 1981, p. 68).

Chalkboard activity

As you write a name on the chalkboard, have the young men explain how they think that particular individual showed obedience.

Write Adam on the chalkboard.

Explain that Adam built an altar and offered sacrifices to God. An angel appeared and asked him why he was offering sacrifices. He answered, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (See Moses 5:5–6.)

Write Lehi on the chalkboard.

Explain that Lehi showed great faith by obeying the Lord’s commandment to leave his home and riches in Jerusalem. As a result Lehi endured much hardship. He was rewarded for his obedience by avoiding destruction in Jerusalem and was led to a beautiful land of promise.

Write Joseph Smith on the chalkboard.

Explain that Joseph Smith read that if he asked in faith, God would teach him the truth. Joseph obediently prayed for wisdom from God. He was blessed to learn the truth about God and to become a prophet.

Write Jesus Christ on the chalkboard.

Explain that when Jesus was thirty years of age, he left his home in Galilee to find John the Baptist in Jordan. When he found him, Jesus asked John to baptize him because he knew that John had the authority to baptize. John knew that the Savior was a sinless man who needed no repentance and said to him, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?”

The Savior knew that baptism was for the forgiveness of sins and that he had committed none. But he also knew that baptism is an ordinance required of all mankind. Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” (See Matthew 3:13–15.)

We Can All Be Obedient


Explain that the previous examples were of prophets and the Savior. Emphasize, however, that we do not have to be prophets to be obedient. We all can and should be obedient. Like the prophets, we show our love for the Savior by being obedient.

  • If the prophet tells us to do something, how should we respond?

As the young men discuss this, point out that we should always follow the counsel of the prophet. When our Church leaders give us counsel, it is as if the Savior were giving us counsel himself.

Quotation and discussion

“To obey means to follow and to accept direction. Our prophet today has given us a direction to ‘lengthen our stride,’ to extend ourselves, to stretch forward and to seek goals which require extra effort to achieve. If we are obedient to this direction, we will find ourselves achieving things we never thought were possible. I was impressed by the remarks of Elder A. Theodore Tuttle of the First Council of the Seventy, when he asked a young man if he was preparing to go on a mission. The young man replied, ‘I don’t want to go on a mission.’ Elder Tuttle’s response was, ‘What does that matter? The Lord wants you to go.’ This is a perfect example of how the law of obedience should be exercised” (Keith Brian Rutledge, in Conference Report, Melbourne Australia Area Conference 1976, p. 18).

  • What do you think Elder Tuttle meant when he said, “What does that matter?” (We should do what the Lord wants us to do regardless of what we want to do.)


Have the young men listen to the following examples of how members of the Church were blessed because they were obedient.

“In the Brazil Sao Paulo South Mission there was an Elder Malheiros who entered into the field not being able to read or write very proficiently. He was even a little fearful of giving a prayer in public. But this young man … became one of the greatest missionaries imaginable. [His mission] president asked him toward the end of his mission how he had turned into such a dynamic, very successful missionary. (He had baptized more than two hundred people and had baptized every week for fifty-two consecutive weeks.) In a very humble manner Elder Malheiros answered, ‘Well, president, I never doubted you. You said one could baptize every week, so I knew I could baptize every week. I never doubted. It was not always easy, but I tried to obey’” (Ted E. Brewerton, in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, p. 93; or Ensign, May 1981, p. 69).

  • How was Elder Malheiros blessed? (He overcame his fear and baptized many people.)

  • If Elder Malheiros had not obeyed his mission president, in what ways might his mission have been different?


“Why is Floriano Oliveira, a member of the high council in a stake in Brazil, so successful as a missionary? Because he obeyed the Lord’s counsel to open his mouth and share the gospel. One day as he was driving through the congested traffic of Sao Paulo he took his eyes off the road for but a second and crashed into the car in front of him. He jumped out of the vehicle, hurried up to the car he had hit, opened the door and said, ‘I am so sorry I hit you. It was all my fault. I accept the full blame and will pay the total costs. I had no intention to do this, so please forgive me. Yet if I hadn’t hit you, you wouldn’t have received this message I have for you, the message that you have waited for all your life.’ He then explained the restoration of the gospel to this man, who was a medical doctor, and the man joined the Church two weeks later” (Ted E. Brewerton, in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, p. 93; or Ensign, May 1981, p. 69).

  • Why was Brother Oliveira so successful as a missionary? (He was obedient to the Lord’s request to share the gospel.)

Joy through Obedience

Adviser presentation

Explain that we should be happy and have a good feeling about being obedient. If we have the right attitude about being obedient, it will bring us joy and happiness.

Have the young men think of the feeling they get when they are obedient in filling assignments that are given to them, such as administering the sacrament, gathering fast offerings, obeying the Word of Wisdom, or obeying any of Heavenly Father’s commandments. Then have them describe this feeling to you. Lead them toward discussing the positive, satisfying feelings that come from obedience.


Have the young men sing the first verse of “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” or have one of them read the words (Hymns, no. 19). Have them pay special attention to the last line of the hymn.

“We thank thee, O God, for a prophet
To guide us in these latter days.
We thank thee for sending the gospel
To lighten our minds with its rays.
We thank thee for every blessing
Bestowed by thy bounteous hand.
We feel it a pleasure to serve thee,
And love to obey thy command.”


Scripture and testimony

Have the young men read and mark Mosiah 2:41.

Bear testimony of the benefits of obeying Heavenly Father’s commandments.

Explain that being obedient shows our trust in Heavenly Father and our love for him. If we truly love and trust him, we will be obedient to him throughout our lives.