“Sharing Time: The Prophets’ Examples,” Liahona, Nov. 2000, 16
William W. Phelps was one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s close friends. William was appointed printer for the Church. He moved to Missouri and became a leader in the Church there.
Later, because of some faults he thought he saw in the Prophet Joseph, he became an enemy of the Prophet. He signed a certificate defending the actions of one of the enemies of the Church. Because of William’s and others’ actions, Joseph not only lost a loved and trusted friend, he and other Church leaders were sent to prison!
Two years later, William realized what he had done was wrong. “I am as the prodigal son … ,” he wrote to the Prophet Joseph. “I know my situation, you know it, and God knows it, and I want to be saved if my friends will help me. … I have done wrong and I am sorry.” He asked to be received again as a member of the Church.
Joseph answered immediately with love and forgiveness. He wrote: “Believing your confession to be real, and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal. … ‘Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, / For friends at first, are friends again at last.’” (See History of the Church, 4:141–42, 163–64.)
Joseph forgave his friend, and William became a valiant servant of the Lord once more. William wrote the hymn “Praise to the Man” (Hymns, number 27) about his forgiving friend, the Prophet Joseph.
Sometimes our friends say or do things that hurt us. But we can forgive them, just as the Prophet Joseph did. Joseph told William he wanted to follow the example of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He wanted to be as kind and forgiving as They are. As we follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will be happy. We will be keeping our baptismal covenant, and we may be able to help our friends keep their covenants, just as the Prophet Joseph Smith helped his friend William.
Each prophet is a wonderful “example of the believers.” Play a game to help you remember some of our prophets’ good examples. Mount pages 6–7 on heavy paper. Cut out the pictures and the stories. Spread them out facedown. Take turns turning over two cards, trying to match the correct picture and story. When a match is made, the player reads aloud the story, then thinks of a way he or she might follow that prophet’s example.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Show kindness and concern for others.
Howard W. Hunter
Work hard and be dependable.
Ezra Taft Benson
Spencer W. Kimball
Set goals and always do your best.
Harold B. Lee
Listen to and obey the Spirit.
Joseph Fielding Smith
Study and memorize the scriptures.
David O. McKay
Stand for the right.
George Albert Smith
Have faith to be healed.
Heber J. Grant
Be persistent—keep trying.
Joseph F. Smith
Pray and know that prayers are answered.
Follow the prophet.
Be a valiant missionary.
Obey the Word of Wisdom.
Gordon B. Hinckley worked hard and saved money for his schooling. When it was time for his sister Ramona to graduate, he realized she needed a new dress. He used some of his hard-earned money to buy her a beautiful dress.
When Howard W. Hunter was a young boy, his neighbors knew he was a hard worker. He helped them with mowing, yard work, and picking fruit. Sometimes he was paid for the work, but many times he did it because he enjoyed helping others.
Ezra Taft Benson was called “T” by his friends and family. One day, a neighbor commented that “T” walked straight and tall. “Why shouldn’t he?” his uncle responded. “He’s the only boy I know who has never done anything of which he should be ashamed.”
When a Church leader suggested that everyone read the scriptures, Spencer W. Kimball realized he had never read the entire Bible. He set a goal to read it from cover to cover. He lit a lamp and began. He read a little every night. One year later, he had completed his goal.
As a little boy, Harold B. Lee started to climb a fence. He heard a voice saying, “Harold, don’t go over there.” He could see no one. He realized the Spirit was warning him of danger, so he didn’t go. That experience taught him the Lord was watching over him.
Joseph Fielding Smith loved to study the scriptures. When he was 18, he walked home from work each day carrying a small copy of the New Testament, which he studied until it was dark. Then he worked on memorizing the scriptures he had just read.
David O. McKay loved baseball. Once, a player wrongly accused him of being unfair and threatened him. David spoke calmly. Then he hit the ball and scored the winning run! Everyone was glad he stood up to the bully when he knew he was in the right.
As a young boy, George Albert Smith was very ill. The doctor advised his mother to give him coffee to drink, but George Albert refused it. He asked for a priesthood blessing. The next morning, when the doctor arrived, he found George Albert in the yard, playing.
His uncle challenged Heber J. Grant and his cousin to read the Book of Mormon and offered a prize to the first to complete it. Heber knew if he read fast, he would not understand what he read. He decided to let his cousin win. He read slowly—and finished first!
Returning from a mission at age 19, Joseph F. Smith and his companions were threatened by drunken men. “Are you a ‘Mormon’?” one man demanded. Joseph F. answered yes. Surprised, the man said, “I am glad to see a man stand up for his convictions.”
When Lorenzo Snow was a young boy, he ran from a charging bull! He quickly climbed a tall tree as the bull pawed the ground. Lorenzo prayed for help. Just then, his father came riding up on his horse. One crack from his bullwhip sent the bull running.
Wilford Woodruff tried to always follow the prophet. Joseph Smith counseled the Apostles to keep a history. “Whenever I heard Joseph Smith preach, teach, or prophesy,” Wilford said, “I always felt it my duty to write it.” Today the Church has 7,000 pages of his record.
When John Taylor was a young boy in England, he felt he would go to America and preach the gospel. Several years later, his family moved to Canada. He joined the Church there. John not only preached the gospel in America, he also returned to Europe as a missionary.
Long before he learned about the Church, Brigham Young would not drink liquor. He wrote in his journal, “I have conceived from my youth that I could have my liberty and independence just as much in doing right as I could in doing wrong.”
When Joseph Smith was seven, a bone in his leg had to be cut out. The doctor offered Joseph liquor. Joseph would not drink it. The doctor wanted to tie Joseph to the bed. Again Joseph refused. His father held him tightly in his arms during the operation.
Invite several adults to tell stories of people who have loved and served others. Use examples from your ward or branch. Sing songs or hymns that correlate with the stories. Have the children draw something they have done or will do to love and serve others. Assemble all the children’s pictures on a long sheet of paper to put in a roller box (see Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching , 178–79) and show it to the children the following week. Sing songs or hymns while the children view their artwork.
On six pieces of paper, draw simple figures representing Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Grandma, and Grandpa. Have the children sit in a circle and sing a song or hymn about kindness as they pass the figures around the circle. Each time the song ends, have each child holding a figure tell one thing he or she could do to show love for that person in his or her family. Have each child prepare a set of figures representing her or his own family. Let the children take the figures home to share this activity during family home evening.