Lesson 1: Who Am I?

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 1–3


Objective

Each young man will understand that he is a son of God and can become like his Father in Heaven.

Preparation

Materials needed:

  1. 1.

    Scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    A copy of the pamphlet and card For the Strength of Youth (34285 and 34287) for each young man.

Note

A young man who sees himself only in the present is much less able to make wise decisions and develop proper attitudes and habits than one who sees life from an eternal perspective. The first is more likely to seek after the pleasures of the moment and make choices that could damage his eternal welfare. The other is more likely to exercise faith and patience and make choices that will help him progress toward eternal life. Emphasize that how each young man lives now will affect his life the rest of eternity. Help him develop an eternal perspective.

Suggested Lesson Development

Each Young Man Can Become like His Father in Heaven

Quotation

Explain that since the restoration of the true Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days, Church members have known of their origin and destiny as children of God. A latter-day prophet, Lorenzo Snow, summarized this teaching clearly when he said, “As man is God once was; As God is, man may be” (in Thomas C. Romney, The Life of Lorenzo Snow [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1955], p. 46).

Story

Explain that many people outside the restored Church do not understand that they are sons and daughters of God. Then tell the following story:

“[Elder] John A. Widtsoe [a former member of the Quorum of the Twelve] traveled to England during the First World War, and the English immigration official who interviewed him said, ‘No, we are not going to let you land. We have been letting your missionaries in, but we do not want any of your leaders.’ He said, ‘Go and sit down.’ So [Elder] Widtsoe went and sat down.

“In a few minutes the official called him back and said, ‘If I let you land in my country, what will you teach my people?’”

  • If you had been Elder Widtsoe, what would you have answered?

“[Elder] Widtsoe said, ‘I will teach them where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.’ The officer looked up at him and asked, ‘Does your Church teach that?’ and [Elder] Widtsoe said, ‘It does.’

“‘Well, mine doesn’t,’ he said, and he came down with his stamp on the passport, signed it, and said, ‘You may enter’” (LeGrand Richards, “Patriarchal Blessings,” New Era, Feb. 1977, p. 4).

Discussion

Invite some of the young men to answer briefly the three questions mentioned in the quotation above (Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?).

Testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on earth that teaches the correct answers to those three questions.

God Helps Us Become like Him

Scriptures and discussion

Have the young men read and mark Abraham 3:22–25.

  • Why did we come to earth? (To prove ourselves.)

Explain that we came to earth to show that we would do everything the Lord commanded us and serve him with all our might, mind, and strength.

Have a young man read Matthew 5:48.

  • What commandment is given here?

  • Has any person other than Jesus lived a perfect life? (No.)

  • What do you think the Savior meant when he told us to be perfect?

The following stories illustrate our potential to become like our Heavenly Father.

Story 1

“When the prophet Enoch was called, he wondered why and said, ‘I … am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech’ (Moses 6:31). Yet Enoch knew that in responding to God the test is not our capability but our availability. Enoch kept the commandments and trusted in the Lord’s vision of his possibilities, going on to become the builder of the greatest city of all time. The only time in all of human history when a whole people’s righteousness did not relapse was in the City of Enoch. And it all began with a young man who was less than sure of himself” (Neal A. Maxwell, “I Am But a Lad,” New Era, May 1981, p. 4).

Write the following statement on the chalkboard: The Lord is more concerned with our availability than our capability because he knows our possibilities. Discuss this statement with the young men. Ask them to share personal experiences in which they were asked to do something they didn’t feel capable of doing but were able to accomplish with the Lord’s help.

  • How can you make yourself more available to the Lord? (Pray, repent, read scriptures, fulfill callings.)

  • How can we become capable of doing the Lord’s work? (By doing our best and seeking the Lord’s help.)

Story 2

“During the time of the Korean War, a young man, Rhee Ho Nam, was pressed into a helping role by an American military unit. … At the time, being dislocated from his regular way of life looked like a tragedy. Ho Nam, however, made the best of his challenges as did Joseph in ancient Egypt. He developed English as a second language. He carefully observed the things the American soldiers did, especially an LDS lieutenant who was ‘different’ from his fellow soldiers and much admired by Ho Nam. They discussed things often. One day the lieutenant asked Ho Nam what the purpose of life was. Rhee Ho Nam could not answer, saying only that philosophers had struggled in vain with that question for centuries. Thereupon, the officer took out a plain sheet of paper and drew an outline of the plan of salvation. At that very moment, the Lord bore testimony through the power of his Spirit to Rhee Ho Nam’s heart that what the American had told him was true. Ho Nam studied, then joined the Church, keeping that piece of paper for years as a treasured reminder of that special moment.

“The Korean War was soon over, but Ho Nam’s life in the Church had just begun. While in his thirties, Rhee Ho Nam became the first stake president of the first stake of the Church on the mainland of Asia. He [later served] with distinction as a mission president in Pusan, Korea, as an outstanding leader among his people” (“I Am But a Lad,” p. 5).

  • How did adversity help Rhee Ho Nam learn and grow?

  • What did the Lord know of Ho Nam’s possibilities?

Emphasize to the young men that they have important callings ahead of them if they will keep themselves available to serve the Lord at all times.

Story 3

“A few years ago in Italy, LDS missionaries were harassed by some Italian youths. Among the group on two occasions was a young man named Felice Lotito. He was challenged by a bold elder to come to the local LDS branch so that he could judge for himself. It was a dare which Felice accepted. He came. He heard. He studied. He believed. He was baptized. Later he was sent on a mission to England, where he increased his faith and his facility with English. He served honorably, came home, married a lovely Italian girl in the Swiss Temple, and became one of the directors of the seminary and institute program in Italy. …

“In July of 1980, Felice Lotito left at age 32 to be the mission president in the Italy Padova Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! God saw in Felice possibilities that Felice did not see in himself. When the gospel was presented to him, Felice had the integrity of heart and intellect to believe it, even though he had been hassling the missionaries just days before. The Lord reached out for Felice Lotito who [could then] reach out to thousands of his countrymen and touch hundreds of missionaries—missionaries like those of whom he was so critical just a few years before” (“I Am But a Lad,” pp. 5–6).

  • How have you seen the Lord reach out to those who have lost their way and help them back on the path of progression?

Give a copy of For the Strength of Youth to each young man. Review the First Presidency’s statement, and explain that this guide can help the young men maintain the Lord’s standards and become like him.

Conclusion

Testimony

Bear testimony of the truths taught in the lesson. Emphasize again that the Lord knows what the young men can become and that he will help them reach their potential. Help the young men realize the importance of trusting the Lord, despite their own feelings of inadequacy. The things they do now in life will affect them in mortality and in the life to come. Remind them that they can grow to be like their Heavenly Father.

Quotation

Read the following statement from Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity. The prophet [Joseph Smith] taught that there are many things to be done, even beyond the grave, in working out our salvation.

“And so what we do in this life is chart a course leading to eternal life. That course begins here and now and continues in the realms ahead. We must determine in our hearts and in our souls, with all the power and ability that we have, that from this time forward we will press on in righteousness; by so doing we can go where God and Christ are. If we make that firm determination, and are in the course of our duty when this life is over, we will continue in that course in eternity” (“The Seven Deadly Heresies,” in 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1981], pp. 78–79).

  • If we are in the path of perfection in this life but die before we have become perfect, what has Elder McConkie said will happen?

Explain that none of us knows when the end of his mortal life will be, but if we are on the right path we will continue until we become as our Father in Heaven is, and we will be able to live with him forever in the celestial kingdom.

Challenge

Challenge the young men to begin each day by reminding themselves of their divine potential and by approaching the day’s activities with an eternal perspective. Encourage them to review the standards in For the Strength of Youth regularly to help them reach their potential.