The 51 Best Harold B. Lee Quotes

He’s known for saying that the most important work you will ever do will be “be within the walls of your own homes.”

Harold B. Lee quotes are still relevant decades after his passing. In addition to authoring books such as Stand Ye in Holy Places, President Lee also gave many general conference addresses and BYU devotionals (similar to Russell M. Nelson quotes). To this day, he’s known for saying that the most important work you will ever do will be “be within the walls of your own homes.” This page features quotes from Harold B. Lee on a variety of topics, including the role of the Church, missionary work, the plan of salvation, welfare, and more. Please leave a comment if there’s a quote you’d like considered for inclusion.

Read more about Harold B. Lee in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee.

Table of Contents

Harold B. Lee Quotes about the Church

Encourage them

So must we, in dealing with our faltering saints, not be merely priesthood holders who criticize, scold, and condemn. We must, like the apostle Peter, take them by the arm, encourage them, and give them a sense of security and respect for themselves until they can rise above their difficulties and can stand on their own feet.

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000, 2011), 93.

Make leaders of members

Why be concerned about organization? … We organize to do the Lord’s work better and easier by sharing the workload, by delegating responsibility. We organize and make the work of the Lord easier and better by acceptance and discharge of responsibility, which makes leaders of members.

“An Enlarged Vision of the Church Organization and Its Purposes,” Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 26 June–3 July 1961, Church News, 8 July 1961, 8.

Strengthen homes

Every activity in the Church should be so planned as to strengthen—not to subtract from—the functioning of a well-ordered home.

“Everlasting Covenant,” MIA Conference Address, 29 June 1969.

Don’t overlook the soul

Much of what we do organizationally, then, is scaffolding, as we seek to build the individual, and we must not mistake the scaffolding for the soul.

In Conference Report, October 1967 (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1967), 107.
One of Harold B. Lee’s quotes emphasizes that the Church as an organization is meant to support souls.

Focus on the flock

Sometimes, in the past, we have lapsed into patterns which seem to stress our accountability for programs rather than for the flock. We urge all involved … to follow that fundamental injunction as to the purpose of it all: “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).

Address given at regional representatives’ seminar, 4–5 Apr. 1973.

Religion gives courage in the absence of answers

It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.

In Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 108.

Methods Change

The principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are divine. Nobody changes the principles and [doctrine] of the Church except the Lord by revelation. But methods change as the inspired direction comes to those who preside at a given time.

“God’s Kingdom – A Kingdom of Order,” Ensign, January 1971.

Harold B. Lee quotes about the family 

Orientation to life and marriage

Temple marriage is more than just a place where the ceremony occurs; it is a whole orientation to life and marriage and home.

“Special Challenges Facing the Church in Our Time,” regional representatives’ seminar, 3 Oct. 1968, 13–14.
President Harold B. Lee taught that the temple orients couples to marriages rather than only being the building wherein the ceremony occurs.

Basis of a righteous life

The home is the basis of a righteous life.

In Conference Report, October 1967 (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1967), 107.

Happy homes

Happiness comes from unselfish service. And happy homes are only those where there is a daily striving to make sacrifices for each other’s happiness.

“Inspirational Guidance the Year Round,” Primary June Conference Address, 1948.

Keep trying to help

No home is a failure unless it quits trying to help.

Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 30 September 1971.

What mothers make

Someone has said that the best school of discipline is the home, for family life is God’s own method of training the young, and homes are largely what mothers make them.

“The Three Phases of Motherhood,” Address Given to the General Session of Primary Conference, 3 April 1970.

The most effective teaching

Now the most effective teaching in the church is done in the family where the responsibility upon the father and the mother in the home is to teach their children while they’re yet small the basic principles of faith, repentance, belief in the Savior, those early principles of chastity, virtue, honor, and so on.

Interview with Tom Pettit for NBC, 4 May 1973.

Harold B. Lee on the most important work you’ll ever do

The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.

“Be Loyal to the Royal Within You,” BYU Speech, September 11, 1973.
President Henry B. Eyring expounds on Harold B. Lee’s teachings that the most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.

Harold B. Lee Quotes About Freedom, America, and the Constitution

Pray for Government Leaders

Wherever you are, wherever you live, pray for the leaders of your country, for remember that they too hold in their hands all that you hold dear. Again, I repeat the Lord’s injunction: “Be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet” (D&C 58:22).

Conference Report, 9 April 1972, 124.

Basic Virtues Make Us Free

Oh, that all who are citizens of this favored land could learn the lessons taught by their noble ancestors and could understand that our inheritance in this land of liberty is not merely liberty and freedom that are bequeathed to us without effort on our part, even as the air we breath. The only true inheritance we have from our pioneer heritage is the knowledge and understanding that the basic principles of courage, honesty, integrity, virtue, and charity are the verities that have made men free.

“True Patriotism—An Expression of Faith,” Church News, 12 July 1941, pp. 3-4.

Involvement in Political Processes

We must urge all members as individuals to become involved in public issues within and without political parties. … If we were in it at the beginning and were studying the issues and the people, active in our own parties, we would be far more influential.

Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 2 April 1971.

The Constitution of the United States

To the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Constitution of the United States is as a tree of liberty under whose cooling branches one might find a haven from the scorching sun of turmoil and oppression and have his rights protected according to just and holy principles. To them, the Constitution was established by the hands of wise men whom God raised up for this very purpose, and they devoutly believe that if it should be in danger of being overthrown, their lives, if need be, are to be offered in defense of its principles.

“True Patriotism—An Expression of Faith,” Church News, 12 July 1941, pp. 3-4.

Out of Zion Shall Go Forth the Law

I have often wondered what that expression meant, that out of Zion should go forth the law. Years ago I went with the Brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition of the meaning of that term—”out of Zion shall go forth the law.” Note what they said:

“We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document. …. We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfil the ancient prophecy of Isaiah [and Micah] that ‘… out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

British Area Conference Report, 28 August 1971, pp. 138-42.

President Harold B. Lee quotes about the Holy Ghost and revelation

More powerful than sight

The most powerful witness you can have that [the Savior] lives comes when the power of the Holy Spirit bears witness to your soul that He does live. More powerful than sight, more powerful than walking and talking with Him, is that witness of the Spirit.

Address given at Lausanne Switzerland conference, 26 Sept. 1972.

Walk by the spirit of revelation

If you learn to give heed to the sudden ideas which come to your minds, you will find those things coming through in the very hour of your need. If you will cultivate an ear to hear these promptings, you will have learned to walk by the spirit of revelation.

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000, 2011), 55.

Harold B. Lee quotes about love and kindness

When we truly love others

Our success … will be measured in part by our capacity to love those whom we seek to lead and to serve. When we truly love others it can eliminate the bad motives that often prevail in human relationships. When we truly love others we will act in their eternal interests and not to meet our own ego needs.

“By Love Unfeigned,” Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 April 1969.

Love and sacrifice

Great love is built on great sacrifice, and that home where the principle of sacrifice for the welfare of each other is daily expressed is that home where there abides a great love.

In Conference Report, April 1947, 49.

How to learn to love God

If you want to learn to love God, you must learn to love His children and to love serving His children. No person loves God unless he loves service and unless he loves our Heavenly Father’s children.

Los Angeles California Temple dedicatory service, 161–63.

Harold B. Lee quotes on meditation

You can come closer to the Lord than you imagine

President [David O.] McKay said, “We don’t take sufficient time to meditate.” I get up early in the morning … , five o’clock, when my mind and spirit are clear and rested. Then I meditate. You can come closer to the Lord than you imagine when you learn to meditate. Let your spirits be taught by the Spirit.

Open-Air Meeting for the Temple Workers of the Provo Temple, 9 July 1972.

They come when we are relaxed

The Twelve will not soon forget President David O. McKay’s admonition in our council meeting one morning when he impressed the vital importance of taking time to meditate in order to keep spiritually attuned. … “It’s a great thing to be responsive to the whisperings of the Spirit and we know that when these whisperings come it is a gift and our privilege to have them. They come when we are relaxed and not under pressure of appointments.”

“With Love Unfeigned,” address to regional representatives’ seminar, 3 Apr. 1969.

Take time to meditate

Let that be something to remember—you do likewise. Take time to meditate. Many times you will be wrestling with problems, the solution of which can be spiritually discerned.

“With Love Unfeigned,” address to regional representatives’ seminar, 3 Apr. 1969.

Harold B. Lee quotes about missionary work

Live gospel ideals

The best way in the world to make men interested in the gospel is to live the ideals and the standards which we expect of those who profess membership in the Church.

Address to Brigham Young University stake conference missionary session, 19 Oct. 1957.

Be careful how you act

Be careful how you act, because you may be the only Standard Church Works some people may ever read.

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000, 2011), 162.

Missionary work and home teaching [and ministering]

Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members.

Improvement Era, Dec. 1964, 1078.
President Harold B. Lee taught that there is a close correlation between missionary work and home teaching (now called “ministering”).

Teach the old doctrines

Now you as teachers are not being sent out to teach new doctrine. You’re to teach the old doctrines, not so plain that they can just understand, but you must teach the doctrines of the Church so plainly that no one can misunderstand.

“Loyalty,” An Address to Seminary and Institute Faculty, Brigham Young University, 8 July 1966.

Harold B. Lee quotes about ordinances

Ordinances are invitations to learn

All of the gospel principles and all of the gospel ordinances are but invitations to the learning of the gospel by the practice of its teachings. That’s all they are—invitations to come and practice in order that you can know.

“Learning the Gospel by Living It,” address to 52nd annual Primary conference, 3 Apr. 1958.

Harold B. Lee quotes about the Plan of Salvation

We have only one life

We do use words rather loosely when we speak of the ‘life before this, and this life, and the next life,’ as though we were a cat of nine lives, when as a matter of fact, we only have one life. This life we speak of did not begin with mortal birth. This life does not end with mortal death.

Address at the funeral of Edwin Marcellus Clark, 5 Apr. 1955.

Be entitled to receive favors due a faithful child

Every child must be taught that he is an offspring of divine parentage and that it is the business of every child to learn to act like a son or daughter of God so that in time of need he might pray and be entitled to receive favors due a faithful child.

“For Every Child, His Spiritual and Cultural Heritage,” Children’s Friend, Aug. 1943, 373.

Preparation for death

The all-important thing is not when we die, but how prepared are we when we do die. This is a day of preparation for men to prepare to meet their God. How great and merciful He was in allowing us a period of probation during which time man should be perfecting himself.

Address given at the funeral of William G. Sears, 13 Mar. 1943.

Harold B. Lee quotes about prayer

Do we say prayers—or talk with God?

There is a lot of difference between saying a prayer and talking with God.

“How Primary Teachers Can Strengthen Their Testimonies,” address to the 47th annual Primary conference, 3 Apr. 1953.

Courage to act

It takes a lot of courage to act when directed as an answer to prayers.

Qualities of Leadership, address to the Latter-day Saint Student Association convention, Aug. 1970, 5.

Harold B. Lee quotes about prophets

The role of prophets in conversion

Until the members of this church have that conviction that they are being led in the right way, and they have a conviction that these men of God are men who are inspired and have been properly appointed by the hand of God, they are not truly converted.

In Conference Report, April 1972, 118.

We have prophets

We don’t have to depend solely upon what is in the standard Church works. In addition to what the scriptures have told us, we have what the prophets today are telling us here and now.

Alpine Stake Conference, January 14, 1962. See also Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000, 2011), 84.

They sometimes speak their own opinions

There have been times when even the President of the Church has not been moved upon by the Holy Ghost. There is, I suppose you’d say, a classic story of Brigham Young in the time when Johnston’s army was on the move.

The Saints were all inflamed, and President Young had his feelings whetted to fighting pitch. He stood up in the morning session of general conference and preached a sermon vibrant with defiance at the approaching army, declaring an intention to oppose them and drive them back. In the afternoon, he rose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address in which the tempo was the exact opposite of the morning sermon.

Whether that happened or not, it illustrates a principle: that the Lord can move upon his people but they may speak on occasions their own opinions.

“A Sure Trumpet Sound,” Improvement Era 68 (November 1965): 1016.

Harold B. Lee quotes about repentance

Daily pruning of evil growth

To be truly righteous there is required a daily pruning of the evil growth of our characters by a daily repentance from sin.

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000, 2011), 29.

It’s more than being a “card carrying” member

Conversion must mean more than just being a “card carrying” member of the Church with a tithing receipt, a membership card, a temple recommend, etc. It means to overcome the tendencies to criticize and to strive continually to improve inward weaknesses and not merely the outward appearances.

In Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 92.

Faith comes by sacrifice

Every child must learn that faith sufficient to perfection can only be developed by sacrifice and except he learns to sacrifice of his appetites and [physical] desires in obedience to the laws of the Gospel he cannot be sanctified and made holy before the Lord.

“For Every Child, His Spiritual and Cultural Heritage,” Children’s Friend, Aug. 1943, 373.

Harold B. Lee quotes about scriptures

Purest at the source

Through these generations the messages from our Father have been safeguarded and carefully protected, and mark you likewise that in this day the scriptures are the purest at their source, just as the waters were purest at the mountain source; the purest word of God, and that least apt to be polluted, is that which comes from the lips of the living prophets who are set up to guide Israel in our own day and time.

In Conference Report, Oct. 1943, 101.

How to find doctrinal answers

If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren’t able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures!

“Finding Answers in the Scriptures,” Ensign 2 (December 1972): 3.

A hazardous thing

With respect to doctrines and meanings of scriptures, let me give you a safe counsel. It is usually not well to use a single passage of scripture in proof of a point of doctrine unless it is confirmed by modern revelation or by the Book of Mormon. . . . To single out a passage of scripture to prove a point, unless it is [so] confirmed . . . is always a hazardous thing.

Regional Representatives’ Seminar, October 4, 1973.

Harold B. Lee quotes about testimony

Recapture it every day

Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it’s as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it every morning of your life. You have to hold on by study, and by faith, and by prayer.

LDS Student Association and Young Adults, 4 November 1972. See also Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000, 2011), 43.
One of Harold B. Lee’s quotes teaches that you have to recapture your testimony each morning of your life.

Harold B. Lee quotes about trials and suffering

Becoming a truly great soul

Rarely, if ever, is there a truly great soul except he has been tried and tested through tears, and adversity.

“Life Under Control,” Brigham Young Commencement Address, 4 June 1951, cited in Church News, 6 June 1951.

The refining process of suffering

There is a refining process that comes through suffering, I think, that we can’t experience any other way than by suffering. … We draw closer to Him who gave His life that man might be. We feel a kinship that we have never felt before. … He suffered more than we can ever imagine. But to the extent that we have suffered, somehow it seems to have the effect of drawing us closer to the divine, helps to purify our souls, and helps to purge out the things that are not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

Address at Funeral Services for Alfred W. Wesemann, 8 December 1969.

How you take it

The all-important thing in life isn’t what happens to you, but the important thing is how you take it.

Education for Eternity, address given at Salt Lake Institute of Religion “Lectures in Theology: Last Message Series,” 15 Jan. 1971.

Harold B. Lee quotes about welfare

Great significance

The welfare program has a great significance in the Lord’s work. We must take care of [people’s] material needs and give them a taste of the kind of salvation they do not have to die to get before we can lift their thinking to a higher plane. Therein is the purpose of the Lord’s welfare program that He has had in His Church in every dispensation from the very beginning.

“Let Others Assist You,” address to welfare meeting, 4 Apr. 1959.

We expect people to do all they can

We expect the individual to do all he can to help himself, whether it be an emergency for a single family or for a whole community, that the relatives will do all they can to help, then the Church steps in with commodities from the storehouse, with fast offerings to meet their needs that commodities from the storehouse will not supply, and finally, the Relief Society and the priesthood quorums will assist with rehabilitation.

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000, 2011), 171.

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By Chad Nielsen

Biotech professional. Armchair historian. Latter-day Saint.

One reply on “The 51 Best Harold B. Lee Quotes”

From Elder Glen L. Rudd’s life history about Pres. Marion G. Romney and Harold B. Lee:

“Elder Romney was a remarkable man—much greater than most people thought. He and Elder Lee knew the Book of Mormon better than anyone.”

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