Being a Prophet: Traits of the Trade

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will define the role of prophets/advocates in society and name qualities and characteristics of an effective prophet.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • describe the role of a prophet/advocate in society.
  • represent symbolically characteristics of a prophet/advocate.
  • distinguish between true and false prophets/advocates.
  • explain why some persons will sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Home Connection 

Learners will ask their family to name someone they would consider a contemporary prophet. They will record their family’s responses and reasons for their choices on the Family Survey Sheet (Handout Three). (This activity will serve as a catalyst for discussion in Lesson Four: Modern Advocates for Change.)



  1. Anticipatory Set:Play a recording of "Another Day In Paradise" from the CD But Seriously by Phil Collins. It expresses one person’s response to encountering a homeless person on the street. Ask for learner comments/observations at the conclusion of the song.

    (Teacher Note: There are many other songs that speak about social action, justice or /injustice. The aim is to initiate learner reflection on societal problems.)


  2. Review the definition of social justice from Lesson One: What Is Your Gripe?

  3. Introduce the definition of prophet as a person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression or the chief spokesperson of a movement or cause. Explain that such a person is also called an advocate, meaning one writes, speaks or acts in favor or support of a cause. Have the learners write these definitions in their notebooks.

  4. Give one or two examples, such as courage or wisdom, of qualities or characteristics of a prophet who makes positive contributions to the common good. Teacher Note: You may have to clarify for students the two roles of a prophet: to "forth-tell" – telling the people what they perceive is happening and to "Fore-tell" predicting the future. The role of the prophet being used in this lesson is to "forth-tell."

  5. Ask the learners to illustrate three qualities or characteristics of their own. Discuss why a prophet will sacrifice personally to benefit others.

  6. Share responses with the class, having each learner note which one characteristic is most important. Ask that they support their choice with at least one reason. Designate a scribe to record a list of class responses. Answers that are repeated would be designated by a check mark each time they are mentioned.

  7. After all learners have shared their responses, note which qualities were mentioned most often, either summarizing verbally or writing the summary on the board. Invite learner comment and discussion on why such similarities arose.

  8. Distribute A True Prophet Versus a False Prophet. (Versions are included for both public and parochial schools.) (Handouts One and Two) Read through the handout with the class. Note how many of the characteristics they had brainstormed on their own. How is it possible for a true prophet to influence the making of significant change when they are not often readily accepted by many in the community?

  9. Assign work Family Survey (Handout Three) for the school/home connection.


Observation of learner discussion and the ability to articulate prophetic qualities and explain/defend their importance/significance will assess learning in this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.