Lesson 39: Missionary Work through Example

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 138–41


Each young man will radiate the gospel by his exemplary living.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

    3. c.

      A pencil for each young man.

  2. 2.

    (Optional) Prepare a poster with the following quotation:

    “Every Latter-day Saint should know that many souls are won or lost through the example and influence that each one of us conveys” (John T. Kesler, “Being an Example,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 58).

  3. 3.

    Prepare a copy of the handout “What Kind of an Example Am I?” for each young man (see page 141).

  4. 4.

    Ask two or three young men to be prepared to share an experience in which a good example encouraged them or someone they know to learn more about the gospel.

Suggested Lesson Development

We Can Interest Others in the Church by Our Example


Ask the young men to try to determine the main theme of the lesson as you share the following true story with them:

“‘When mother, Mary Graham, was about fourteen years old, her father was lying on his deathbed. An elder of the Church came to the door with a tract, telling of the restoration of the gospel. Her father read the tract and said, “Mary, my girl, that is true. I believe that young man has come with the true gospel. Search out this true gospel … and embrace it.”

“‘After the death of her father (her mother had died some years before), the orphaned Mary became a servant girl in the wealthy Allen family. When they learned she was investigating Mormonism, they angrily told her she was injuring their business by attending these meetings. People were beginning to think the Allens were sympathetic with this unpopular religion.

“‘One dark and rainy night the whole Allen family assembled and called Mary before them. Bitterly the father said, “Mary, there is the door. You take your choice right now. Either [stay in] our home and give up Mormonism, or [go] out of our home into the night.” She cried about it. Naturally she would like to stay, but she could not renounce the gospel, for she knew it was true. The homeless Mary walked out into the bleak night with only a shilling in her pocket. That shilling she paid to a friend of her father, who for that amount rented to her his hall in which the elders could preach.

“‘Friends were raised up for Mary. She obtained other employment, married, and had a family of thirteen children, born in Scotland. In 1872 they came to Utah. When [Mary’s family] arrived in Salt Lake City, the Allen family was there to welcome them and took them to their home for a wonderful banquet. “You are the cause of our being in the Church,” they declared.

“‘When Mary had so courageously left their home in Scotland rather than give up the true faith, the Allen family concluded that her religion must be something extraordinary. They knew her as one of the sweetest [and] best … girls of their acquaintance. Mr. Allen said, “I cannot help but feel that there is something more to Mormonism than we understand; it cannot be just a man-made religion.” He and his family investigated, joined the Church, emigrated to Utah, and welcomed Mary and her family when they arrived’” (as told by Robert D. Young, “Genealogical Evenings in the Home,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1965, p. 33).

  • What kind of person must Mary have been to have had such an influence on her employers?

Adviser presentation

  • Has anyone ever told you that they saw you somewhere—such as at a sporting event or in a store or movie theater—and you were not even aware that they were there?

  • Did it make you realize others were noticing you when you were not aware of it?

If possible, relate occasions when you noticed something one of the young men did when he didn’t know you were watching. Help them to realize that their actions are being observed by others whether they know it or not.

  • Why is it important that we set a good example at all times? (Our actions may interest someone in the gospel. However, an improper example could discourage others from wanting to know more.)

Scripture and discussion

  • How do you think Heavenly Father feels toward those who set bad examples?

Have a young man read Mark 9:42 and relate this verse to those who offend others by their bad examples.

Chalkboard or poster

Display the poster you have prepared or write the following quotation on the chalkboard: “Every Latter-day Saint should know that many souls are won or lost through the example and influence that each one of us conveys” (John T. Kesler, “Being an Example,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, p. 58).

  • How can our example help others find the truth?

Point out that many people have joined the Church because of a member’s righteous example.

Explain that introducing the gospel to others does not always mean that we must sit down with them and talk about religion. Some people will be more interested in the gospel if they can see by the way we live that it makes a difference in our lives. Following is a true story about a young man who inspired a friend in a way he little expected.


“Alan Harris and Ed Hoppes had become acquainted in the [military] service. Harris was a Latter-day Saint from Layton, Utah. He was a medical technician. Hoppes was an X-ray technician from Springfield, Ohio.

“They struck it off very well. Neither cared for the night spots. Whenever they had liberty, they went for long hikes. They visited places of historical significance.

“‘Sometimes we just laid on the grass and watched the clouds. I don’t think we talked to each other a great deal except about farming. We both liked everything about farming. I don’t think we discussed religion much. We just seemed to know that we both came from good religious homes,’ Alan said.

“Apparently, Alan didn’t learn for many years that his actions and his clean living habits communicated more to Ed than the words they exchanged.

“[When the war with Japan was over, both servicemen returned to their respective homes. Ed Hoppes became a contractor and became involved in building homes.] He … was laying plans to develop the village of Northridge with [a] shopping center, churches, schools and 2,200 new homes.

“[One day] three intent young married women came to his office. They said they represented a new branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“‘Is that the same as the Mormon church?’ Ed asked.

“‘We are known as Mormons,’ they said.

“They had been authorized by the leaders of the branch to contact Mr. Hoppes to see if he would sell them a piece of land where they could build a chapel.

“‘I had a good friend in the service who was a member of your Church,’ he told the women. ‘I was inspired and impressed by the clean and wholesome life he led. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you the ground you need upon which to build a chapel. It won’t cost you a penny.’

“Ed Hoppes delivered to the Springfield Branch Building Committee a deed for two acres of land valued at about $10,000. He also offered other valuable service to assist with the building. All this because he met a young Mormon who took his religion seriously and inspired another” (Dorothy O. Rea, “… When You Least Expect It,” Church News, Jan. 21, 1967, p. 11).

Scripture and discussion

Ask a young man to read Matthew 5:16. Have the young men mark this scripture.

Discuss how the people in the stories above let their light shine so as to influence others.


Allow the assigned young men the opportunity to share any personal experiences in their own families when a good example influenced someone to learn more about the gospel. Let any of the other young men share similar experiences they know about.

How I Can Be an Example


To help the young men think about what kind of example they are living, give each class member a copy of the handout “What Kind of an Example Am I?” and a pencil. After all the young men have completed the checklist, encourage them to comment on any of the questions. Suggest they take the checklists home and watch for ways they can improve their examples.

Scripture and quotation

Direct the young men to read Doctrine and Covenants 123:12. Emphasize the phrase “only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.” Then read the following statement:

“If we are setting a good example of how the gospel affects our lives, people will notice—and often become interested in what makes the difference in our lives. …

“The nonmember’s heart is first opened by a good impression of the Church and its members, and by the love and concern of the members he knows” (Jay A. Parry, “Converts Tell … What Brought Me In,” Ensign, Feb. 1978, p. 43).

Remind the young men that they have the opportunity to be an example to others by living the teachings of the gospel and by following Christ as the greatest example in their lives.

To emphasize this, have a young man read 1 Timothy 4:12 while the others follow along in their scriptures.



Challenge the young men to choose two or three areas from the checklist in which they can improve and to work on these during the coming week.