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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)

Jairo Mazzagardi, “The Sacred Place of Restoration,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 56–58

Craig C. Christensen, “I Know These Things of Myself,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 50–52

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:

  • During the week, invite one of the youth in your class to review Joseph Smith—History 1:5–17 and come prepared to share what Joseph Smith did to find answers to his questions. As a class, review Elder Jairo Mazzagardi’s talk “The Sacred Place of Restoration,” looking for how Elder Mazzagardi went about finding an answer to his question. How is Elder Mazzagardi’s experience similar to Joseph Smith’s? What questions about the gospel do the youth have? How can they accept Elder Mazzagardi’s challenge to “follow the example of the Prophet Joseph Smith” when they have questions?
  • Invite class members to read the section titled “Let Him Ask of God” in Elder Craig C. Christensen’s talk “I Know These Things of Myself.” Invite them to list on the board possible answers to Elder Christensen’s question “Do you see in Joseph’s experience a pattern you could apply in gaining or strengthening your own testimony?” Encourage them to search Joseph Smith—History 1:5–17 for answers to this question.
  • 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 attitude as he searched for truth. Help the youth define any unfamiliar words. How can the youth follow Joseph Smith’s example in their search for truth? As part of this activity, consider showing the video “Origin.”
  • 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.

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.