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Student Living Lessons

Student Living lessons help build your testimony in both your home and daily life.
Boy Roommates - Apr 2021

How can I build Zion in my own apartment?

Download this lesson as a PDF document.

The Lord commands us to "seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion" (D&C 6:6). We can respond to this call by living in a way that leads us to and places us in Zion. Truly, "we no longer think of Zion as where we are going to live; we think of it as how we are going to live" (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Israel, Israel, God is Calling," CES Devotional, Sept. 9, 2012). We can build Zion in our apartments through the practical, everyday work of living the basic principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Student Living-the principles and associated practices of love, shared responsibility, and mutual respect-represents a pattern for you to build little Zions in your apartments so you can build Zion in your home.
Prepare yourself spiritually
Why is building Zion important? How do you strive to live the principles of Zion in your apartment? When have you felt a spirit of unity in your apartment?

Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. What will inspire your roommates and fellow ward members to build Zion their apartments?


Begin the learning experience
Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this lesson:

  • Read together Doctrine & Covenants 6:611:612:6, and 14:6 and ask the members of the group to list words that come to mind when they think of Zion. Select a few words from the lists to discuss.
  • Read together Moses 7:18-19 and invite the members of the group to contemplate and discuss the characteristics of a home in the city of Enoch. What would an apartment in Zion look and feel like?

Learn together
Each of the activities below can help Home Evening group members learn how they can build Zion in their apartments. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for the group.

  • Watch a 7- minute clip of Troy Dougherty's devotional address "The Practical Work of Building Zion in Your Apartments and Homes." Discuss the following questions: What can I do now to build Zion in my apartment? What can I do consistently throughout the semester to build and maintain Zion in my apartment? What can my roommates and I do, collectively, to build Zion in our apartment? How can my roommates and I live in a way that leads us to and places us in Zion?
  • According to Moses 7:18-19, Zion is characterized by unity, righteousness (i.e., pure in heart), and an absence of the temporally and spiritually poor. In "Building Zion Together," President Clark connects seven patterns to each of these three characteristics of Zion. Select a few of the patterns to read together and ask the members of the group to consider the importance and relevance of each pattern to apartment life and roommate relations. How will these patterns, if genuinely applied, create and foster a culture of Zion in their apartments?
  • Read together the second and third paragraphs of Troy Dougherty's devotional address "The Practical Work of Building Zion in Your Apartments and Homes." What specific deeds may constitute the practical work of building Zion in your apartment? How do these deeds relate to each of the three guiding principles of Student Living (love, shared responsibility, and mutual respect)?
  • As a group, read 4 Nephi 1:10-18. What contributed most to the Zion-like state in which the Nephites and Lamanites lived during that period of time? What specific practices from the account in 4 Nephi can be applied to apartment life to bring about Zion? What impact can your love for God have on your interpersonal relationships with roommates?
  • The prophet Brigham Young declared, "The work of building up Zion is in every sense a practical work; it is not a mere theory. A theoretical religion amounts to very little real good or advantage to any person. To possess an inheritance in Zion or in Jerusalem only in theory-only in imagination-would be the same as having no inheritance at all. It is necessary to get a deed of it, to make an inheritance practical, substantial and profitable. I have Zion in my view constantly. We are not going to wait for angels, or for Enoch and his company to come and build up Zion, but we are going to build it" ("Building Up and Adornment of Zion By the Saints," Journal of Discourses, Volume 9(56), pp. 282-285. What can we learn about Zion from this excerpt? How can the lessons we learn from this excerpt apply to building Zion in our apartments?

Live what we are learning
A lesson is not complete until an invitation or challenge is extended that inspires and motivates participants to apply what they have learned. "It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals" (Thomas S. Monson, "A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 59-61).

  • Invite the members of the group to consider what they learned from this lesson. Ask them to write down and share (if appropriate) what they feel impressed to do.
  • If this activity was not already conducted as part of the discussion, divide the Home Evening group into small sub-groups of two or three people and invite each sub-group to answer the following questions: What can I do now to build Zion in my apartment? What can I do consistently throughout the semester to build and maintain Zion in my apartment? What can my roommates and I do, collectively, to build Zion in our apartment? How can my roommates and I live in a way that leads us to and places us in Zion?

What impact can my love for God have on my relationships with my roommates?

Download this lesson as a PDF document.

"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself' (Matthew 22:37-38). Mark concludes the account with the Savior's statement: 'There is none other commandment greater than these' (Mark 12:31). We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all" (President Thomas S. Monson, "Love—the Essence of the Gospel," Ensign, May 2014).
Prepare yourself spiritually
What does it mean to love God? How is loving God a necessary and powerful foundation for loving our roommates? When has your love for God helped you love someone else?Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. What will inspire your roommates and fellow ward members to love God and their roommates?


Begin the learning experience
Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this lesson:

  • Watch together "The Greatest Commandment." Why do you think the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor? How are these commandments related?
  • Read President Monson's quote found at the beginning of this lesson. Discuss the key principles presented in this quote and how they relate to apartment life.
  • Sing together "Love One Another" (Hymns, no. 308). Invite group members to share what the words of this hymn mean to them.

Learn together
Each of the activities below can help Home Evening group members learn how they can build Zion in their apartments. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for the group.

  • Read together 4 Nephi 1:15-16. What contributed most to the state of the people at this particular period of time? What impact can our love for God have on our relationships with our roommates? Share your testimony of how loving your roommates is a natural extension of your love for God.
  • If the first "Begin the learning experience" activity was not already used, watch "The Greatest Commandment" and read together 1 John 4:20-21. Ask group members to consider an apartment in which the two great commandments are genuinely observed. What does this apartment look and feel like? How would you describe the interaction among roommates? What can you do now and throughout the semester to create and foster an apartment environment in which love for God and love for roommates prevails?
  • As a group, watch or listen to the first 3:19 of President Thomas S. Monson's address, "Love—the Essence of the Gospel." How is the Savior the perfect example of love? How do group members manifest their love for God in their apartment? How can they cultivate a more sincere and genuine love for God?

Live what we are learning
A lesson is not complete until an invitation or challenge is extended that inspires and motivates participants to apply what they have learned. "It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals" (Thomas S. Monson, "A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 59-61).

  • Ask group members to consider their relationship with Heavenly Father and to write down something they will do this week in their apartment to show their love for God.
  • Invite members of the group to pray for the gift of love (see Moroni 7:48).

How can I show love for my roommates in practical ways?

Download this lesson as a PDF document.

"True love requires action. We can speak of love all day long—we can write notes or poems that proclaim it, sing songs that praise it, and preach sermons that encourage it—but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal'" (1 Corinthians 13:1; Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "You Are My Hands," Ensign, May 2010).
Prepare yourself spiritually
Why is it important to love our roommates? In what practical ways have roommates shown love to you? What are some things you have done to show love in your apartment?

Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. How can you help group members recognize that their love for roommates can be manifested in everyday practical ways?


Begin the learning experience
Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this lesson:

  • Read President Uchtdorf's quote found at the beginning of this lesson. Ask group members to share something that a roommate has done for them that made them feel loved.
  • Discuss the meaning of "practical" and identify specific ways in which love can be practical among roommates.

Learn together
Each of the activities below can help Home Evening group members learn how they can build Zion in their apartments. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for the group.

  • Divide the group into two or three smaller sub-groups and assign each of the sub-groups to read one or two sections of President Uchtdorf's talk "You Are My Hands." The sections are: "We are the Hands of Christ," "Our Hands Can Embrace," "Our Hands Can Comfort," and "Our Hands Can Serve." Ask members of each sub-group to share what they can do to embrace, comfort, and/or serve roommates in their apartment. In what practical ways can roommates become the hands of Christ?
  • Watch the 5-minute "Love" segment of Brother Dougherty's talk "The Practical Work of Building Zion in Our Apartments and Homes." Review a few of the "I love God by" statements from the talk. Which statements resonate most with group members? Why? What are they doing now in their apartments to show love for their roommates? What would they like to do? How can even the smallest acts of smiling, sharing, and serving foster a spirit of love in an apartment? What are some other practical ways we can show love for our roommates?
  • Read together 1 John 3:16-18. Ask group members how they sometimes "shut up [their] bowels of compassion from [their roommates]." What changes in their lives do they need to make to become more compassionate and loving? What does it mean to express our love to our roommates "not . . . in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth"? How is this accomplished on a day-to-day basis?

Live what we are learning
A lesson is not complete until an invitation or challenge is extended that inspires and motivates participants to apply what they have learned. "It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals" (Thomas S. Monson, "A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 59-61).

  • Invite each member of the group to write the following statement on a piece of paper: "I will show my love for [consider the name of a roommate] by [consider something practical]." This statement can be written two or three times according to the inspiration of each group member.
  • Ask each group member to fill in the blank of the following statement: "I have felt the most love from a roommate when __________." Now, invite group members to perform that very act for one of their current roommates.

What does it mean to be my brother's keeper?

Download this lesson as a PDF document.

Both ancient and modern-day prophets have collectively and consistently testified of our covenant responsibility to care for, encourage, protect, and even rescue our brothers and sisters. Elder David A. Bednar affirmed: "We...want an environment on this campus where appropriately and genuinely concerned 'neighbors,' in the true scriptural sense of the word neighbor, would remind, help, and encourage us to consistently think, speak, and act in a way that invites the Spirit of the Holy Ghost among us" ("In the Path of Their Duty," BYU-Idaho Devotional, Sept. 1, 1998). This is the essence of being our brother's keeper. This is the role of the loving friends, classmates, and, especially, roommates at BYU-Idaho.
Prepare yourself spiritually
Why are we asked to be our brother's keeper? How does being our brother's keeper apply to our roommate relationships? What experiences have I had in my life where someone has looked out or cared for me? Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. What will encourage your roommates and fellow ward members to be their brother's keeper?


Begin the learning experience
Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this lesson:

  • Sing the hymn "Lord, I would Follow Thee" (Hymns, no 220). Discuss what it means to be my brother's keeper. Refer to Elder Bednar's quote at the beginning of the lesson for additional insight.
  • Read together Moses 7:18-19 and invite the members of the group to contemplate and discuss the characteristics of a home in the city of Enoch. What would an apartment in Zion look and feel like?

Learn together
Each of the activities below can help Home Evening group members learn how they can build Zion in their apartments. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for the group.

  • Watch "To the Rescue," Discuss together or in small groups the following questions: What are your impressions of the video? How does this account relate to being your brother's keeper? How can the Code of Silence affect our relationships with our roommates? How can we best assist roommates or neighbors who may be spiritually wounded?
  • Watch the "Parable of the Good Samaritan." Invite group members to liken the story to themselves. Discuss together or in small groups the following questions: How would you feel if you were the wounded man on the side of the road and saw the others pass by you? What correlation exists between physical wounds and spiritual wounds? What is the relationship between "neighbor" and "brother"? What type of transformation-both in us and in our roommates-may occur as we strive to be our brother's keeper?
  • Read together two consecutive paragraphs from President Howard W. Hunter's talk "A More Excellent Way," starting with "The world in which we live would benefit greatly if men and women everywhere would exercise the pure love of Christ . . . " What role does love play in being your brother's keeper? How can you cultivate a genuine love for your roommates?

Live what we are learning
A lesson is not complete until an invitation or challenge is extended that inspires and motivates participants to apply what they have learned. "It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals" (Thomas S. Monson, "A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 59-61).

  • Invite the members of the group to consider what they learned from this lesson. Ask them to write down and share (if appropriate) what they feel impressed to do.
  • Invite members of the group to ask the Lord in their prayers over the next week to bless them with an increased awareness of those in their apartment or apartment complex who may need their help. Challenge them to act on the promptings they receive. Make sure to follow up at next week's Home Evening.

In what practical ways can I exemplify mutual respect in my apartment?

Download this lesson as a PDF document.

"Respect is an expression of our sense of universal brotherhood or sisterhood-a testimony of our membership in the human family. It acknowledges our common humanity and shows our reverence for children of God. The gospel teaches us that we are to hold the same esteem for others that we hold for ourselves (see D&C 38:25; Matthew 7:12). Acting disrespectfully suggests that we do not esteem the other person as ourselves. . . . True respect, then, comes as we develop our ability to love our brothers and sisters as ourselves" (Terrance D. Olson,"Cultivating Respect," Ensign, Oct. 2001).
Prepare yourself spiritually
Why is it an essential characteristic of a disciple of Christ to esteem another as oneself? How do you strive to show genuine respect to roommates? Is your apartment today one in which mutual respect is truly exemplified among roommates? Why or why not? Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. How can you help group members understand that their love for God can be manifested in practical ways among roommates and neighbors?


Begin the learning experience
Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this lesson:

  • Read together Matthew 7:12 and discuss the relationship between the Golden Rule and mutual respect.
  • Watch the video "The Sermon on the Mount: The Higher Law." In what ways does our society support the Law of Moses in terms of how we treat one another? How can following Christ's teachings and example elevate our relationships and interactions with our roommates?

Learn together
Each of the activities below can help Home Evening group members learn how they can build Zion in their apartments. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for the group.

  • Divide into two groups and read "The Doctrine" and "The Bottom Line" sections of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk "The Merciful Obtain Mercy." Ask each group to highlight and share key points from their respective section. Next, read and discuss together the questions and the exhortations posed by President Uchtdorf in the section "The Way of the Disciple." Determine ways that roommates and neighbors can overcome tendencies to criticize, belittle, gossip, and withhold forgiveness. How can mutual respect help us be more Christ-like in our interactions?
  • Watch the "Mutual Respect" section from Brother Troy Dougherty's devotional "The Practical Work of Building Zion in Your Apartments and Homes." Discuss and respond to the interview questions presented in that section. How can you be more respectful and considerate of your roommates? How can you develop the habit of anticipating how your actions will affect others?
  • Elder Joe J. Christensen taught: "Don't be too critical of each other's faults. Recognize that none of us is perfect.... 'Ceaseless pinpricking' (as President Kimball called it), can deflate almost any [relationship]. Generally, each of us is painfully aware of our weaknesses, and we don't need frequent reminders. Few people have ever changed for the better as a result of constant criticism or nagging" (Marriage and the Great Plan of Happiness, Ensign, May 1995). Emphasize that people change as a result of God's love and our love and respect for them. Discuss the following questions: Do you look for and recognize the good in your roommates? Do you speak of their virtues more than you speak of their faults? Do you praise more than you pinprick? Do you overlook certain idiosyncrasies or harmless habits and accentuate the positive? Do you value and esteem your roommates as brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of God?
  • Read together the quote found at the beginning of this lesson as well as Philippians 2:1-5. Invite group members to consider why it is sometimes difficult to esteem others as ourselves. Ask group members to share personal or scriptural examples of the practical manifestation of the Golden Rule. In what ways does living the Golden Rule positively change both the situation and the people involved?
  • Watch "The Civility Experiment" and discuss the following questions: Have you ever misjudged someone? Have you ever been misjudged? How did you feel? In what ways do we misjudge or disrespect our roommates? How can we ever learn to err on the side of civility and respect and give a roommate the benefit of the doubt?

Live what we are learning
A lesson is not complete until an invitation or challenge is extended that inspires and motivates participants to apply what they have learned. "It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals" (Thomas S. Monson, "A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 59-61).

  • Invite group members to identify someone in their apartment or ward about whom they need to change the way they feel. Have them write a specific goal as to how they are going to go about living the principles taught in this lesson to mend or build a better relationship with that person.
  • Distribute Elder Christensen's quote found in the "Learn together" section to individual members of the group. Ask group members to write three compliments for each of their roommates on the back of the quote. Invite them to express the compliments to each of their roommates throughout the week.

How can I be a better roommate?

Download this lesson as a PDF document.

"Get to know those with whom you live. Attend your meetings together, and plan activities with each other. You may room with people from many different backgrounds. Some will be easier to get to know than others; you will have more in common with some than with others. But working together and striving to create a spirit of harmony and love will bring you some of your happiest moments, and you will be able to say to your roommates . . . with true conviction, 'Ye are they whom my Father hath given me; ye are my friends'" (D&C 84:63; Babzanne P. Barker, "Ye Are My Friends," New Era, Nov. 1979).
Prepare yourself spiritually
What qualities do you appreciate in a roommate? What do you do to be the kind of roommate you want for yourself? In what ways could you be a better roommate? Prayerfully study the following scriptures and resources. What will inspire the members of your group to become better roommates?


Begin the learning experience
Choose from these ideas or think of your own to introduce this lesson:

  • Read Sister Barker's quote found at the beginning of this lesson. Ask group members to share a time in which they felt a spirit of harmony in their apartment. What did individual roommates do to contribute to such a spirit?
  • Ask each group member to make a list of characteristics that embody a good roommate. Briefly discuss a few of the characteristics and consider how they relate to the Savior's character and disposition.

Learn together
Each of the activities below can help Home Evening group members learn how they can build Zion in their apartments. Following the inspiration of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for the group.

  • Read together Mosiah 18:8-9 and ask group members to consider these passages in relation to apartment life. Discuss practical ways in which roommates can bear one another's burdens, mourn with and comfort one another, and witness to one another the goodness of God. How would an apartment benefit from a culture in which these practices were exemplified by roommates? How would each roommate benefit?
  • Divide into two groups and read Ephesians 4:29-32. Ask each group to discuss the following questions: What represents "corrupt" communication in the apartment? How can the way in which you communicate with your roommates affect the Spirit in your apartment? How can the way in which you communicate help you become a better roommate? What role does forgiveness play in helping you become a better roommate? What prevents you from forgiving others? How can you develop the humility and love to forgive your roommates "even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (v. 32)? Reunite as a larger group and reflect on the key points and insights that were shared in each respective sub-group. Encourage additional depth to the discussion.
  • Provide each group member with a copy of the following quote and ask someone to read it aloud: "A few short months ago in October, my wife and I performed vicarious sealings in the Rexburg Temple. During the ceremony, the sealer paused to share an inspired thought with the assembly. He asked us to consider the beautiful sunsets that are frequently present on the horizon in the great state of Idaho. He reminded us that we never look at a sunset and regretfully sigh, 'Oh, I wish there were more hues of red or stronger hues of purple in this sunset. If there were only a little more orange or not so much yellow. It's a bit off-center or not quite evenly distributed.' We simply enjoy the sunset for what it is and cherish and value its distinctive beauty. Though he wasn't very explicit in stating why he shared this thought with us, we all recognized the lesson: see the good in others and accentuate the positive" (Troy Dougherty, "The Practical Work of Building Zion in Our Apartments and Homes," BYU-Idaho Devotional, Jan. 21, 2014). How does this particular experience relate to being a better roommate? Discuss the following questions: Do you lift roommates through kindness and compliments? Do you do all you can to make them feel good about themselves? Do you overlook certain idiosyncrasies or harmless habits and accentuate the positive?

Live what we are learning
A lesson is not complete until an invitation or challenge is extended that inspires and motivates participants to apply what they have learned. "It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals" (Thomas S. Monson, "A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 59-61).

  • Ask group members to consider the impressions they have had throughout the discussion. Invite each individual to identify specific ways in which he/she can be better a roommate. Encourage group members to write down their commitments and refer to them often. Reporting commitments to others may also aid them in their progress.
  • Distribute "Thank You" cards to group members and invite them to write a brief note of gratitude to a roommate for something he/she has done to bless the group member's apartment and/or college experience.