President Ezra Taft Benson

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 273–76


Introduction

Elder Mark E. Petersen, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:

“‘What is best for the Kingdom?’

“The answer to that question has been the deciding factor in every important matter that has come before President Ezra Taft Benson throughout his life.

“From his earliest youth, he has sought for what is best for the work of the Lord, for the kingdom of God on earth.

“Always he has arranged his own affairs to suit this objective. Always this has been the ultimate concern of his life” (“President Ezra Taft Benson,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, 2–3).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • We must study the Book of Mormon to escape the Lord’s condemnation. A serious study of the Book of Mormon brings great spiritual power (see “President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 212–14, par. 1–2, 12–16; see also 2 Nephi 25:21–22; D&C 84:54–57).

  • Pride is the universal sin. We should rid ourselves of pride and become humble (see “President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 213, 215, par. 3, 22–34; see also Mormon 8:34–37; D&C 23:1).

  • The faith and prayers of the Saints help open the doors of nations to missionary work. The gospel will continue to roll forth until it fills the earth (see “President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 213–14, par. 4–9; see also Daniel 2:31–45; D&C 65:2).

  • The roles of mothers and fathers are sacred and ordained by God (see “President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 214–15, par. 19–21; see also Alma 56:47–48; 57:20–21, 26; D&C 29:46–48; 68:25–28).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 601–15, 646–49.

Suggestions for Teaching

“President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 212–14, par. 1–2, 12–16. We must study the Book of Mormon to escape the Lord’s condemnation. A serious study of the Book of Mormon brings great spiritual power.

(20–25 minutes)

Show students the picture The Last Judgment from the appendix (p. 313). Ask: If you were the artist who painted this picture, what would you title it? Tell students the painting’s real title.

Write on the board the following questions:

  • How many people will face a final judgment?

  • Who will be our judge?

  • How will we be judged?

Have students read the following scriptures and look for answers: John 5:22; Romans 14:10; Revelation 20:12; Alma 5:15; Mormon 3:20.

Hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon and ask students what part they think it will play in our final judgment. Have them find an answer by reading 2 Nephi 25:22. Ask if neglecting the Book of Mormon can affect us in this life. Have them find the answer by reading Doctrine and Covenants 84:54–58.

Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.

“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 97; or Ensign, May 1975, 65).

Have students read paragraphs 1–2 of “President Ezra Taft Benson” in the student study guide (pp. 212–13). Discuss the following questions:

  • What year did Ezra Taft Benson become President of the Church?

  • What reason did he give for reemphasizing the Book of Mormon? (The Lord inspired him.)

  • Why do you think the Book of Mormon needed renewed emphasis during this time?

Have students read paragraphs 12–16 and select the one or two sentences that most impress them. Have them share with the class their thoughts about these statements. Bear your testimony of the Book of Mormon, and encourage students to study it throughout their lives.

“President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 213, 215, par. 3, 22–34. Pride is the universal sin. We should rid ourselves of pride and become humble.

(20–25 minutes)

Write on the board the following sentence, leaving a blank in place of the word pride: “Pride is the universal sin” (Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 6; or Ensign, May 1989, 6). Ask students what word they would use to fill in the blank. Have them read paragraph 3 of “President Ezra Taft Benson” in the student study guide (p. 213) and look for what President Benson warned the Saints about. Invite a student to read the following statement by President Benson:

“Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance (see Mosiah 3:11; 3 Nephi 6:18). In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby (see 2 Nephi 4:15; Mosiah 1:3–7; Alma 5:61).

“Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

“The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.’ It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 3; or Ensign, May 1989, 4).

Have students read paragraphs 22–34 of “President Ezra Taft Benson” and find at least eight ways we can overcome pride. List their findings on the board. Discuss the following questions:

  • How are these eight ways similar?

  • Which of these eight ways might seem difficult to us? Why?

  • How might young people today show pride?

Encourage students to choose one of these eight ways. Invite them to write on a piece of paper a step-by-step plan to develop humility in that way. Read the words to “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” (Hymns, no. 220) and discuss how the hymn relates to humility. Invite students to humbly follow the Lord.

“President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 213–14, par. 4–9. The faith and prayers of the Saints help open the doors of nations to missionary work. The gospel will continue to roll forth until it fills the earth.

(10–15 minutes)

Display a map of the world. Ask students to list places where missionary work is currently allowed. Discuss the following questions:

  • What changes have you seen in the Church’s growth during your lifetime?

  • Read Daniel 2:34–35, 44. According to these verses, how much more will the Church grow?

  • What can you do to help the Church grow worldwide?

Read paragraphs 5–9 of “President Ezra Taft Benson” in the student study guide (pp. 213–14), and list on the board how the Church grew under President Benson. Ask:

  • Could this growth be considered miraculous? Why?

  • What part did the faith and prayers of the Saints play in these miracles?

  • How does it make you feel to be part of the Church at such a significant time in history?

  • Why is it important to pray and exercise faith on behalf of missionary work?

Share the following statement by President Benson, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Yes, as we indulge in retrospect after 150 years of existence, we rejoice and declare the progress has been marvelous and wonderful. We thank the Lord for His merciful blessings. We do not hesitate to ascribe the success and progress of the Church to His omnipotent direction.

“But now—what of the future?

“We assuredly expect additional progress, growth, and increased spirituality. We will see our missionaries cover the earth with the message of the Restoration. We will see temples in every land where the gospel has penetrated, symbolizing the truth that families, living and deceased, may be joined together in love and eternal family associations. But we must also be reminded that there will be ever-present efforts to obstruct the work” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 46; or Ensign, May 1980, 33).

“President Ezra Taft Benson,” Student Study Guide, pp. 214–15, par. 19–21. The roles of mothers and fathers are sacred and ordained by God.

(10–15 minutes)

Have the class compile a list of what they consider the five most important jobs in the world, and write it on the board. Ask: Why do you think these jobs are so significant? Have students read paragraphs 19–21 of “President Ezra Taft Benson” in the student study guide (pp. 214–15) and look for what President Benson said was one of the most important jobs. Discuss the following questions:

  • Why is the work of mothers so sacred and noble?

  • What would be a job description for mothers today?

  • What can you do to show respect and honor to your mother?

  • What can young women do to prepare to become righteous mothers?

Tell students that fathers are equally important. Share the following statement by President Benson:

“Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released. Callings in the Church, as important as they are, by their very nature are only for a period of time, and then an appropriate release takes place. But a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 59; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 48).

  • Why is it so important that parents teach their children the gospel?

  • What can you do to help and show respect to your father?

  • What can young men do to prepare to be righteous fathers?

Share the following list of ways President Benson said mothers can spend effective time with their children:

  1. 1.

    “Take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going.”

  2. 2.

    “Take time to be a real friend to your children.”

  3. 3.

    “Take time to read to your children.”

  4. 4.

    “Take time to pray with your children.”

  5. 5.

    “Take time to have a meaningful weekly home evening.”

  6. 6.

    “Take time to be together at mealtimes as often as possible.”

  7. 7.

    “Take time daily to read the scriptures together as a family.”

  8. 8.

    “Take time to do things together as a family.”

  9. 9.

    “Take time to teach your children.”

  10. 10.

    “Take the time to truly love your children” (excerpted from To the Mothers in Zion [address given at a fireside for parents, Feb. 22, 1987], 8–12).

Share also the following list of ways President Benson said fathers can provide spiritual leadership to their families:

“1.Give father’s blessings to your children. Baptize and confirm your children. Ordain your sons to the priesthood. …

“2.Personally direct family prayers, daily scripture reading, and weekly family home evenings. …

“3.Whenever possible, attend Church meetings together as a family. …

“4.Go on daddy-daughter dates and father-and-sons’ outings with your children. …

“5.Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. …

“6.Have regular one-on-one visits with your children. …

“7.Teach your children to work. …

“8.Encourage good music and art and literature in your homes. …

“9.As distances allow, regularly attend the temple with your wife. …

“10.Have your children see your joy and satisfaction in service to the Church. …

“May you always provide for the material needs of your family and, with your eternal companion at your side, may you fulfill your sacred responsibility to provide the spiritual leadership in your home” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 62–63; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 50–51).

Invite students to write letters to their parents expressing their gratitude and love. Encourage them to give them to their parents as soon as they are able.