Each class member will develop a greater determination to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ by studying the life of Brigham Young.
See that each class member has a copy of the New Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants.
Obtain pencils and any other needed materials from the meetinghouse library.
Prepare copies of the handout “Brigham Young Word Search Questions” and “Brigham Young Word Search Puzzle.”
Obtain and prepare to display the following pictures: Calling of the Fishermen (62496; Gospel Art Picture Kit 209);
Brigham Young in the color section; the current prophet; and Sunflowers by Claude Monet in the color section.
Before class assign six class members to give the six short class-member reports relating to the life of Brigham Young. If you have fewer than six class members, you may need to give some of the reports yourself or assign more than one to each class member. Photocopy or hand copy the reports from the lesson.
Suggested Lesson Development
Chalkboard and discussion
Write the following letters on the chalkboard and ask the class members to figure out what important word these letters spell (answer: DISCIPLE).
L I S I C P E D
What does the word disciple mean? (A follower of Jesus Christ.)
Display the picture Calling of the Fishermen.
Have the class members turn in the New Testament to John 8:31 and read it.
How can we become followers of Jesus Christ? (By continuing [learning and obeying] in his word [commandments].)
Place the picture of Brigham Young next to the Calling of the Fishermen and write above or below Brigham Young’s picture the word Disciple. Then read or tell in your words the following:
Word search questions
Today we are going to study the life of Brigham Young—who was a disciple indeed. (At this time pass out a copy of the handout and a pencil to each class member.) We will begin with six short class-member reports. Listen carefully and answer questions on the handout as you can after each report. We will use the answers to these questions later in a group activity. Also, listen for examples from each report of how Brigham Young was a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Proceed with the six assigned class-member reports.
Learned Humility in His Early Years
Brigham Young was born 1 June 1801 in Whitingham, Vermont, into a good family who were poor. He had only eleven days of formal schooling. In his later years he said, “We never had the opportunity of letters in our youth, but we had the privilege of picking up brush, chopping down trees, rolling logs, and working amongst the roots and getting our shins, feet and toes bruised. [He also learned to make bread, wash dishes, milk cows, and make butter]” (Preston Nibley, Brigham Young: The Man and His Work [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1936], p. 1).
Found a Marvelous Book
In 1828 Brigham Young moved to Mendon, New York, just a short distance from where the Church would be organized. In 1830 he read a copy of the Book of Mormon. Samuel Smith, the brother of the Prophet Joseph, was on his first mission and sold the copy to Phineas Young, Brigham Young’s brother. Phineas read the book and was deeply impressed by it. He passed it on to his father, who read it, believed its teachings, and passed it on to Brigham. Brigham studied it very carefully and reported to his brother that he felt there was something in Mormonism.
Brigham Young later said, “‘I weighed the matter studiously for nearly two years … before I made up my mind to receive that Book. I looked at it on all sides … until I came to a certain knowledge of its truth. … I wished time sufficient to prove all things for myself’” (Susa Young Gates and Leah D. Widtsoe, The Life Story of Brigham Young [New York: Macmillan Company, 1930], p. 9). He was baptized in 1832.
What were some of the events or circumstances that prepared Brigham Young to be a prophet? (Accept varied answers such as learned to work, was taught discipline, was guided by the Lord to move to New York to receive the Book of Mormon.)
Loved the Prophet Joseph
No mortal man affected the life of Brigham Young as deeply as did the Prophet Joseph Smith. The meeting of these two now famous men occurred in September of 1832, five months after Brigham’s baptism and a few weeks after the death of his first wife, Miriam Works. Brigham Young, who with his brother Joseph and his friend Heber C. Kimball had journeyed to Kirtland, Ohio, recorded his thoughts about this meeting. Brigham said, “We found the Prophet, and two or three of his brothers, chopping and hauling wood. Here my joy was full at the privilege of shaking the hand of the Prophet of God, and received the sure testimony, by the Spirit of prophecy, that he was all that any man could believe him to be, as a true Prophet” (“History of Brigham Young,” Millennial Star 25 [11 July 1863]:439).
Brigham Young was a staunch friend and follower of the Prophet Joseph Smith from the time of this meeting. He said later, “I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith” (Discourses of Brigham Young [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 458).
Explain that Brigham Young was willing to do whatever was asked of him by the Lord and the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Served as a Missionary in England
In the city of Nauvoo living conditions were unhealthy because of the swamps near the Mississippi River, and many of the Saints had become sick from malaria associated with the mosquitoes. At this time, Brigham Young and his fellow Apostles were called by the Lord to leave their families and to preach the gospel in England. They were not only very sick, but left their families sick as well. Brigham Young reports: “My health was so poor I was unable to go thirty rods [160 yards] to the river without assistance. … I left my wife sick, with a babe only ten days old, and all my children sick and unable to wait upon each other” (“History of Brigham Young,” Millennial Star 25 [10 Oct. 1863]:646). But he left his loved ones in the care of the Lord, whose servant he was, having the assurance that they would be cared for.
He was in England twelve months and sixteen days. As the president of the mission, he and his companions “baptized between seven and eight thousand [people], printed five thousand Books of Mormon, 3,000 Hymn Books, 2,500 volumes of the Millennial Star [a publication of the British mission], and 50,000 tracts” (Millennial Star 26 [2 Jan. 1864]:7). Also a shipping agency was established and a thousand converts emigrated to Nauvoo (see Millennial Star 26:7).
Brigham Young served as a missionary in Church service almost continuously for ten years after joining the Church.
How does this information about the life of Brigham Young indicate his faithfulness? (He was totally committed to follow the Prophet and fulfill all callings from the Lord.)
Defended the Prophet Joseph
Brigham Young recorded:
“On a certain occasion several of the Twelve, the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and others of the Authorities of the Church, held a council in the upper room of the [Kirtland] Temple. [They met because a few men, including some of the General Authorities, were opposed to the Prophet Joseph Smith and wanted to depose him and appoint David Whitmer as President of the Church.] Father John Smith, brother Heber C. Kimball and others … were opposed to such measures. I rose up [Brigham Young said], and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God and sink themselves to hell. Many were highly enraged [said Brigham] at my decided opposition to their measures. … This meeting was broken up without the apostates being able to unite on any decided measures of opposition” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801–1844, ed. Elden Jay Watson [Salt Lake City: Smith Secretarial Service, 1968], pp. 15–16).
Did Not Seek Positions
Early in his career, responsibility fell to Brigham Young. He was a captain in Zion’s Camp, a small military force organized by the Prophet Joseph in 1834 to go to the aid of the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, who had been driven from their homes. Brigham was President over the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and led the British Mission. Yet he did not seek such positions. His only desire was to proclaim the message of the restored gospel and to be schooled in the mysteries of God by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Brigham himself said, “I never let an opportunity pass of learning what the Prophet [Joseph] had to impart. This is the secret of the success of your humble servant” (in Journal of Discourses, 12:270).
What did Brigham Young say regarding learning from the Prophet? (He “never let an opportunity pass of learning what the Prophet had to impart.”)
Brigham Young was willing to do whatever was asked of him. He stood close by the Prophet, supporting him in all circumstances. He also learned what he could from the Prophet.
How could you best describe, in one single statement, Brigham’s relationship with Joseph Smith? (Allow varied responses such as: He stood by the Prophet.)
Optional word search puzzle
If there is time for review, explain that answers to the “Brigham Young Word Search Questions” are hidden in the puzzle. To solve the puzzle, find and circle the hidden answers. Answers may be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or even backwards in the puzzle. (Allow approximately 10 minutes to complete and correct the activity and then move quickly to the next section of the lesson.)
Disciples Follow the Lord’s Prophet
Picture, chalkboard, and discussion
Display the picture of the current prophet and write on the chalkboard next to it the word you.
What did Brigham Young’s relationship with the Prophet Joseph teach us about what our relationship should be with the prophet today? (We should obey, support, learn from, and stand by the prophet.)
Have the class read Doctrine and Covenants 1:38. Then point out to the class that the Lord says that whether he speaks or his servants [the prophets] speak, it is the same.
Display the picture of the sunflowers as you tell the following:
The sunflower has been used as a symbol of loyalty. “According to legend, this common but beautiful flower follows the sun from early hours till it reaches its zenith, is constant and steadfast through the long afternoon, and, as the sun declines, follows it until it finally disappears into the horizon” (Relief Society Courses of Study, 1986, p. 171).
We should be like the sunflower and Brigham Young in our loyalty. We should follow Jesus Christ by following his living prophet. President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency said, “Glorious and wonderful are [God’s] promises to those who keep their covenants and walk in obedience to his divine commandments” (“Live Up to Your Inheritance,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, p. 82).
Testimony and Challenge
Challenge the class to be true “disciples” of Jesus Christ by following his living prophet today. Bear testimony that this is Christ’s Church; he is in charge and leads his Church through a living prophet today.
Brigham Young Word Search Answers
Book of Mormon