“Sharing Time: Watchmen on the Tower,” Friend, Aug. 2001, 39
Imagine that you are standing on the top of a very tall building or a high mountain and are looking down on the city or valley below. The view from such a high spot is different from the one you would see if you were down below, isn’t it? From below, you see only the things that are near to you. But when you are up high, you can see many things that are not visible from below.
In the Savior’s time, farmers grew grapes in great fields called vineyards. Grapes were very valuable. Sometimes robbers would come into the vineyard to steal or destroy the crops. Wise farmers built tall towers just outside their vineyards. They would hire a trusted watchman to stand in the tower and watch for danger. From where he stood, the watchman could see things far beyond the vineyard. He had a much better view than those who were working on the ground. Because he could see so far, he could warn those below if danger was coming. The other workers would then have time to prepare to defend the vineyard.
Through the ages, Heavenly Father has given His children “watchmen.” These watchmen are called prophets and apostles. They have been called by Heavenly Father to watch over His children. They are given a better view of the dangers that lie ahead of us. They warn us about how we can be prepared and defend ourselves against those dangers, including those that are sometimes hard to recognize, such as temptations and evil influences.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are led by a prophet who is the President of the Church, and his two counselors in the First Presidency of the Church. We also have twelve Apostles whom we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. They are our watchmen today. While they don’t stand on a tower, they do receive direction and inspiration from Heavenly Father to know what dangers, problems, and challenges await us. They teach us how to prepare to face them as we try to keep our covenants and the commandments. If we listen to and obey their words, we can be prepared. We hear their counsel during general conference. We can also read their words in the Friend and the Ensign magazines. The prophets and apostles are our watchmen on the tower today. If we heed their words, we will be safe.
Cut pages 38 and 41 out of the magazine and glue them carefully onto heavy paper. Cut out the two windows near the top of the tower.
Cut out the wheel. Attach the tower to the front of the wheel by carefully pushing a brass fastener through the black dots on each piece. As you turn the wheel, you will see pictures of each of the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the tower’s top window. Below each picture is something that that Apostle has warned us to do to protect ourselves from the evil influences of the world. List some of the things you can do to obey their counsel on the lines above the tower.
President Boyd K. Packer
Follow the promptings of the Spirit.
Elder L. Tom Perry
Place a high priority on family home evening.
Elder David B. Haight
Use your time wisely.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Learn to serve and to forgive others.
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Obey God’s commandments.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Follow the Church leaders.
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Be an example.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Trust in Heavenly Father.
Elder Richard G. Scott
Know that Jesus Christ loves you.
Elder Robert D. Hales
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Henry B. Eyring
Study the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook; GAK = Gospel Art Kit)
1. Invite a Melchizedek Priesthood bearer from your ward or branch to portray King Benjamin. He may want to wear a simple costume over his clothes. Have him tell who King Benjamin was (a righteous Book of Mormon king who worked hard and taught his people to obey God’s commandments and to serve one another), when he lived, and who his people were (see Mosiah 2–5). Have him explain about the tower King Benjamin had built so that he could speak to all his people before he died; also have him teach a few of the principles that King Benjamin taught. For example: Mosiah 2:17—when we serve others, we are serving God; Mosiah 2:20–21—we should be thankful for all that we have; Mosiah 2:22—when we keep the commandments, blessings will come; Mosiah 4:15—we should love and serve one another; Mosiah 4:16—we should care for those in need.
Divide up into classes or groups. Give each group a reference from King Benjamin’s talk. Have the children look up the scripture, read it together, and discuss what they can do to follow this teaching. Invite each class to share the things they will do to follow King Benjamin. Then have them stand behind “King Benjamin” and sing the chorus of “Follow the Prophet” (CS, pp. 110–111). Repeat until the entire Primary has had a chance to “follow the prophet.” Testify that blessings come into our lives when we do what the prophets have asked us to do.
2. Have the children repeat the sixth article of faith with you. Explain that in the Church we have twelve Apostles, just as Jesus Christ had when He was on the earth. They are men called by Heavenly Father to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world. Ask twelve children to hold pictures of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles today (library pictures 64332, 64335, 64348, 64355, 64371–64373, and 64375–64379, or use pictures from the Ensign, May 2001.) Have each child tell one thing about the person whose picture she or he is holding (see the information on the back of the library pictures, or for information on some of the Apostles, see the Friend, Aug. 1990, pp. 12–13). We sustain these men as prophets, seers, and revelators. They are “watchmen on the tower,” warning us of approaching dangers and helping us to choose the right. Their counsel to us is a great treasure in our lives so that we can avoid temptations and choose the right.
Prepare a treasure hunt by cutting out several slips of paper. On each slip, write a question about one of the current members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and then a clue as to where the next slip of paper is hidden. The last clue should lead to the most recent conference issue of the Ensign or Liahona in which you have underlined statements that apply to the children from addresses given by these Apostles. Hide the clues before Primary. Divide the children into small groups. Ask the first group a question. After they answer it, read the clue to help them find the next slip of paper. When they find it, have them ask the second group the question on the paper. When the question is answered, someone in the first group reads the clue for the second group. Repeat until each group has answered a question and discovered a slip of paper or the magazine. Have each group read a marked statement from the magazine and tell what they can do to follow that counsel. Bear your testimony about these special witnesses of Jesus Christ.
3. Prepare a quiz on prophets. Ask questions such as: “Who was the first prophet?” (Adam); “Who is the prophet and President of the Church today?” (President Gordon B. Hinckley); “Name a prophet from the Old Testament”; “Name a prophet from the Book of Mormon”; “Who wrote the Articles of Faith?” (Joseph Smith), etc. Display pictures of as many of the prophets you ask questions about as you can find in the GAK. As the children answer each question, have them hold up the picture of that prophet. If pictures are not available, hold up the book of scriptures where that prophet’s teachings are found. Each of these prophets has counseled the people in his day to do the things the Savior wants them to do. Tell how Joseph Smith was asked by a newspaper reporter what the Church believed. In response, Joseph wrote a letter. He listed thirteen basic beliefs of the Church. The Prophet’s list became the Articles of Faith. Ask, “Who knows the thirteenth article of faith?” Have the children repeat it together. Joseph Smith used the teachings of another prophet, Paul in the New Testament, when he wrote, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (see Philip. 4:8). Have the children tell or pantomime things that they do every day to follow the teachings found in the thirteenth article of faith (watch only appropriate television shows, read books and listen to music that is uplifting and motivates us to think and act and feel in righteous ways, etc.). Sing “Hum Your Favorite Hymn” (CS, p. 152).
4. Have the children tell you some things that the prophet has asked us to do (keep the Sabbath day holy, read the scriptures, be a friend to others, be kinder, have family home evening, etc.). Write on the board their responses. Make several large musical notes. Write the page number of a song from the CS that will go with some of the teachings likely to be mentioned. Display the notes. Ask a child to choose one. Have the pianist play the first few notes of the song and see if the child can name the song. (His or her class may help.) Decide which teaching the song goes with and place the note on the board by the appropriate response. Sing the song, then have the child tell how they can follow the prophet’s counsel.
For younger children: Give each class a piece of poster board or a large piece of paper. On the bottom of each poster, write something that the prophet has asked us to do (see above). Have each class draw something on the poster that they can do to follow that teaching. Ask the pianist to play, or listen to a tape of, Primary songs during the activity. Have each class tell about their picture and what they will do to follow the prophet. If time permits, choose a song that supports the teachings chosen by the class. Display the posters in the Primary meeting room.
5. Music presentation: “Stand for the Right,” (CS, p. 159). Sing the song through for the children and ask them which phrase is repeated four different times. (“Be true.”) Who asks us to “be true”? (“Our prophet.”) What does it mean to “be true” to something? (To be loyal and to do what is right, regardless of the circumstances.) Explain that our prophet wants us to be true to the teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Have everyone sing the song again, then ask, “When should we be true?” (“At work or at play, In darkness or light”). “When are we in darkness or light?” Have the children tell of times when they have felt that they were in darkness or light. Listen to the last phrase of the song as you all sing it through again. When do we “stand for the right”? (When we do what is right). Pass a beanbag or other small, soft object around as you all sing the song again. When the music leader holds up a “Stop” sign, ask the child holding the beanbag to tell you what they have done or can do to stand for the right. Provide help for the child, as needed. Repeat several times. Testify that great blessings come as we follow the prophet and are true to the teachings of the Savior.
6. Additional Friend resources: “The Calling of the Twelve” (May 1995, pp. 48–IBC), “Benjamin: Nephite Prophet-King” (Apr. 1996, pp. 48–IBC), “Moroni: Last and Lone Nephite Prophet” (Sep. 1996, pp. 48–IBC), “Daniel’s Choice” (Mar. 1997, p. 28), “Choose Like Daniel” (Mar. 1997, p. 29).