Joseph Smith: A Man and Prophet

BYU has been blessed with many devotionals and speeches on the Prophet Joseph Smith by some of the most preeminent scholars in the field. In commemoration of the 172nd anniversary of the Prophet’s martyrdom, we invite you to get to know the man behind the Restoration with excerpts from some of these speeches.

Joseph Smith wiping a child's tears

Joseph’s Personality

Joseph was confident and sure of himself but did not take himself more seriously than the circumstances warranted. [Leonard J. Arrington, “The Looseness of Zion: Joseph Smith and the Lighter View]

Joseph Smith possessed the secret of making friends. His radiant personality, his acceptance of man’s innate goodness, and his love for all men won him many friends. . . . Parley P. Pratt described Joseph Smith as “possessing a noble boldness, an independence of character. His manner was easy and familiar, his benevolence unbounded as the ocean. Even his most bitter enemies were generally overcome if he could once get their ears” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 45–46). [Ivan J. Barrett, “Joseph Smith—the Chosen of God and the Friend of Man”]

Joseph’s Hobbies

Joseph Smith favored music, drama, debating, hiking, boating, athletics, parties, dancing, and picnics. He liked going for long walks, horseback riding, and getting out into the beauty of nature. [Leonard J. Arrington, “The Looseness of Zion: Joseph Smith and the Lighter View]

 Joseph and His Family

The Prophet enjoyed his family. . . . Joseph came downstairs from the room “where he had been translating by the gift and power of God” and began to romp and play with his children (Journal of Discourses, 2:214). . . . The Prophet’s journal mentions going with his family to musical concerts, the theater, and circus performances, and taking excursions on Mississippi riverboats. [Leonard J. Arrington, “The Looseness of Zion: Joseph Smith and the Lighter View]

Joseph and the Church

He could see no fault in the Church. He loved the majority of the Church members so well that he wanted to be resurrected with them. He was not concerned whether they were resurrected in heaven or in hell. In fact, he was to say that if we find ourselves in hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it. Wherever the Saints should be Joseph knew there would be a good society. [Ivan J. Barrett, “Joseph Smith—the Chosen of God and the Friend of Man”]

Joseph the Prophet

Joseph Smith’s life exemplified the role of what a prophet was, is, and should be. And he was not shy or reserved in letting others know that he was indeed a genuine prophet— one called and appointed by the very God of heaven Himself. His doctrinal teachings are profound, far-reaching, and all encompassing, and to those seeking additional light and truth, his inspired instructions and concepts are comparable in many instances to the eternal truths revealed in the canon of scripture. [Alexander L. Baugh, “Joseph Smith: Seer, Translator, Revelator, and Prophet”]

Here are more BYU speeches on Joseph Smith:

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith”

Russell Ballard, “What Came from Kirtland”

William E. Berrett, “The Life and Character of the Prophet Joseph Smith”

James A. Cullimore, “Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet”

Richard C. Edgley, “Joseph Smith—The Prophet”

Terryl L. Givens, “‘Lightning Out of Heaven’: Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community”

Jack H. Goaslind, “Joseph Smith’s Christlike Attributes”

David B. Haight, “Joseph Smith: The Prophet”

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith: ‘Praise to the Man’”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lessons from Liberty Jail”

Neal A. Maxwell, “Joseph Smith: ‘A Choice Seer’”

Bruce R. McConkie, “Joseph Smith: A Revealer of Christ”

David L. Paulsen, “Joseph Smith and the Problem of Evil”

Katherine D. Pullins, “But for Joseph”

Cecil O. Samuelson, “Stand by My Servant Joseph”

Heidi S. Swinton, “Joseph Smith: Lover of the Cause of Christ”

You may also be interested in

99+1 Initiative: President Russell M. Nelson’s Birthday

Personal Stories from Sacred Sites: The Kirtland Temple and Nauvoo Landmark Acquisition