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What does Joseph Smith’s example teach me about learning the gospel?

Joseph Smith sought spiritual knowledge while acting as the Lord’s instrument in restoring the gospel. He pondered the scriptures, asked inspired questions, and acted upon what he learned. As we follow the Prophet’s example, we can receive answers to our questions and inspiration to guide our own lives.

Prepare yourself spiritually

Study the life of Joseph Smith. What does his example teach you about gospel learning? What can you share with the youth?

D&C 76:15–21 (Joseph Smith pondered the scriptures)

Joseph Smith—History (Joseph Smith likened the scriptures to himself, asked inspired questions, and acted upon what he learned)

Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 261–70

“Joseph Smith’s First Prayer,” Hymns, no. 26

Video: “Origin”

Make connections

During the first few minutes of every class, help the youth make connections between what they are learning in various settings (such as personal study, seminary, other Church classes, or experiences with their friends). How can you help them see the relevance of the gospel in daily living? The ideas below might help:

  • Invite the youth to ask questions they have about a doctrine they are studying.
  • Invite each youth to draw a simple picture on the board that represents something he or she knows about the life of Joseph Smith (or display and discuss pictures of events from his life; see Gospel Art Book, 89–97). Write on the board, “What does Joseph Smith’s example teach me about learning the gospel?” Invite the youth to suggest some answers and to continue to think about this question throughout the lesson.

Learn together

Each of the activities below can help the youth learn from Joseph Smith’s example as a student of the gospel. Following the guidance of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Help the youth make a list of principles and attributes that help us learn the gospel (such as humility, pondering, likening the scriptures, and asking inspired questions). Assign each youth one of the following passages from Joseph Smith—History: verses 10–20, 21–26, 28–33, 34–47, 48–54, 68–75. Ask the youth to search these verses for additional principles of learning and examples of Joseph Smith applying these principles. How can the youth apply these principles in their own efforts to learn the gospel?
  • Read together the words to “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” (Hymns, no. 26), and find words that describe Joseph Smith’s approach to learning. Help the youth define any unfamiliar words. How can the youth follow Joseph Smith’s example in their own gospel learning?
  • Divide the class into groups, and give each group a section of the chapter “Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths” from Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. Invite the youth to draw something that represents Joseph Smith’s teachings about how to improve their study of the gospel.
  • Show the video “Origin,” and ask the youth to share what they learn about how to search for truth. How can the prophet Joseph Smith’s example help us in our personal search for truth?

Ask the youth to share what they learned today. Do they understand what Joseph Smith’s experiences teach about learning the gospel? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be worthwhile to spend more time on this topic?

Invite to act

Invite each youth to write down one thing he or she will do to be a better gospel learner based on the example of Joseph Smith. Invite the youth to share with each other what they wrote.