President Harold B. Lee

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 268–69


Introduction

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“Through long years of dedicated service, [latter-day prophets] have been refined and winnowed and chastened and molded for the purposes of the Almighty. Could anyone doubt this after reading the lives of such men as Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and Joseph F. Smith? The Lord subdued their hearts and refined their natures to prepare them for the great and sacred responsibility later thrust upon them. It has been so with him who stands as President of the Church today, our beloved leader, President Harold B. Lee. I hope he will pardon me. I do not wish to embarrass him. But can one who knows something of his life deny the same influences at work? He came out of circumstances that would today be classed as poverty. From firsthand experience he knows the meaning of hard manual labor. He served as a missionary and was rejected by most of those upon whom he called. He sacrificed for an education. He has known serious illness when life seemed to hang by a thread. He has walked through deep and dark valleys of sorrow. Looking back upon the history of his life, it all appears to be part of a pattern, a refining process that he might better understand the trials, the afflictions, the sorrows of others. And yet, with all of this, there is a great buoyancy of spirit that rises above the tragic and the sorrowful and lifts to higher ground all of those he touches and influences” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 164; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 124–25).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • Keeping the commandments brings spiritual and temporal safety to individuals and nations (see “President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, pp. 205–6, par. 1, 8; see also Leviticus 26:3–13; Mosiah 2:41; D&C 5:21–22).

  • As we respond to the Spirit, the Lord will guide and protect us (see “President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, p. 206, par. 2, 7–8; see also 2 Nephi 5:5; D&C 45:57).

  • Sin is a heavy burden. The Lord has sent prophets to warn us about the “awfulness of sin” (see “President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, p. 206, par. 9–10; see also 1 Corinthians 15:55–56; Alma 34:32–35; D&C 19:15–17).

  • As we study the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets, we strengthen our testimonies, learn and teach the truth, and receive the Lord’s guidance (see “President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, pp. 206–7, par. 11–15; see also 2 Timothy 3:15–17; Mosiah 1:6–7; D&C 21:1, 4–6).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 566–78.

Suggestions for Teaching

“President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, pp. 205–6, par. 1, 8. Keeping the commandments brings spiritual and temporal safety to individuals and nations.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask students if either of their parents has served in a Church calling that took a lot of time. Ask: What could you do to help them in their calling?

Tell students: Imagine that you are a parent and that you have been given a demanding calling. You gather your children for a family council and tell them about your calling. Your oldest child asks, “What can we do that would help you the most?” Discuss with students possible answers to this question.

Explain that President Harold B. Lee had a similar experience when he became President of the Church. Read paragraph 1 of “President Harold B. Lee” in the student study guide (p. 205) and look for President Lee’s answer to this question. Ask:

  • How would it help a President of the Church to have his children be “true to the faith”?

  • How might your living the gospel help your parents as they serve in their callings?

  • What effect could our living the gospel have on the world?

Tell students that as wickedness grows in the world, it can become more difficult to find safety and security. Have students read paragraph 8 and list what President Lee taught that we can do to have safety and security. Write their answers on the board. Have students cite teachings of the current prophet that promote safety and security. Testify of the importance of following the teachings of the living prophets.

“President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, p. 206, par. 2–8. As we respond to the Spirit, the Lord will guide and protect us.

(15–20 minutes)

Show the class a product with a warning label. Ask students:

  • Why is it important to be aware of this warning?

  • How does the Lord give us warnings today?

Have students give examples of times the Lord warned of danger. (They could use examples from the scriptures, their own lives, or the lives of someone they know. Scriptural examples include 2 Nephi 1:1–4; 5:1–6; Mosiah 23:1–5; Ether 9:1–3; Moses 8:22–24.) Invite a student to read paragraph 7 of “President Harold B. Lee” in the student study guide (p. 206). Ask:

  • How did the Lord warn President Lee of danger?

  • What did President Lee learn from this experience?

  • How might this experience have influenced the rest of his life?

  • What other benefits can we receive from the promptings of the Spirit? (see 2 Nephi 32:3; Moroni 10:5).

Discuss the following questions as you read paragraphs 2–6 of “President Harold B. Lee”:

  • How would you describe President Lee’s spirituality?

  • To what was he “quick to respond”?

  • What are some of the contributions President Lee made as a General Authority?

  • How did a lifetime of following the impressions of the Spirit influence what President Lee became?

  • How might the way you respond to the Spirit determine what you become?

Read paragraph 8 of “President Harold B. Lee.” Encourage students to seek the blessings that come from listening to the Holy Ghost.

“President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, p. 206, par. 9–10. Sin is a heavy burden. The Lord has sent prophets to warn us about the “awfulness of sin.”

(15–20 minutes)

Invite a student to the front of the class. Put an empty backpack on the student’s shoulders, and ask: How would you like to go through life carrying this weight? Add more weight by putting items into the pack (such as books, canned goods, and rocks). After each item, ask the same question. Continue until the student says the weight is too much to carry. Ask the class:

  • What might the heavy burden represent?

  • What do you think is the heaviest burden anyone can carry?

Read with students paragraphs 9–10 of “President Harold B. Lee” in the student study guide (p. 206) and look for what President Lee said is the heaviest burden. Ask:

  • Why do you think he taught that sin is the heaviest burden we can carry?

  • What kind of burden does sin put on us? (Loss of the Spirit, guilt, shame, loss of confidence.)

  • Why do you think President Lee was convinced that we need to teach “the awfulness of sin” rather than just “the way of repentance”?

  • How can you get rid of the burden you might already be carrying?

Have students read 1 Corinthians 15:55–56; Alma 34:32–35; Doctrine and Covenants 19:15–17. Invite them to write a letter to an imaginary friend about “the awfulness of sin.”

“President Harold B. Lee,” Student Study Guide, pp. 206–7, par. 11–15. As we study the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets, we will strengthen our testimonies, learn and teach the truth, and receive the Lord’s guidance.

(10–15 minutes)

Display a Bible, a triple combination, several issues of the Ensign (including at least one conference issue), and several books by Latter-day Saint authors. Ask students which of the items are scripture.

Write on the board the headings What Is Scripture and Blessings of Studying the Scriptures. Invite students to read paragraphs 11–15 of “President Harold B. Lee” in the student study guide (pp. 206–7). Have them identify what President Lee said is scripture and what blessings he said come from studying the scriptures. Write their findings on the board under the appropriate headings.

Scripture Blessings

Discuss ways we can better understand and follow the teachings of the scriptures and the living prophets.