Honoring Fatherhood through the Priesthood
D&C 121:34-36 – Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson – that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
Fatherhood is the most crucial area of priesthood leadership. I have the privilege to know personally many fathers, in my family, in this ward, or both, that are excellent examples of men who honor the priesthood in their families and homes. They show the Priesthood proper respect and reverence, thereby showing the Lord proper respect and reverence. It is through examples such as these, that we can pattern our own lives, whether that means breaking free from generations of improper practice, or continuing a legacy of righteous leadership.
As far as the Father’s responsibility in honoring the Priesthood in the home, often we focus on the 3 “Ps” that are found in The Family, a Proclamation to the World, namely, that “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”
The paragraph preceding this statement, however, goes hand-in-hand with this charge, and really clarifies further what should be done. Note that this comes BEFORE the 3 Ps:
have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
These are some very significant responsibilities that are essential in our battle with Satan and his many forces, tricks, and lies. I challenge you to read through The Family, A Proclamation to the World again and think deeply on these instructions, adjusting as necessary, or continuing strong if you already follow them.
In addition to studying the duties and responsibilities of being a father, it is important to realize that being a father is a calling given to us from our Heavenly Father.
President Packer taught us in the current Ensign,
“Now, fathers, I would remind you of the sacred nature of your calling. You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary’s mischief will be that power. You will receive direction from the Lord by way of the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
“The you receive will depend on what you do with this sacred, unseen gift.
“Your authority comes through your ordination; your power comes through obedience and worthiness. …
“Power in the priesthood comes from doing your duty in ordinary things: attending meetings, accepting assignments, reading the scriptures, keeping the Word of Wisdom.”
As we come to understand the doctrine of the Character of God – that we have the potential to become like Him, we will change our attitude and behavior in working to preside, provide, and protect our families in righteousness. There are some who wish to be fathers and cannot for many reasons at the moment. However, we have the assurance that according to the doctrine of the Character of God, we can become like Him and inherit all that He is waiting and wanting to give us. His timetable is not ours, and we must trust in His timing. However, what we CAN and MUST do, whatever our circumstances may be, is work to accomplish His will, and do what He would do in our place. This is the ultimate application of the doctrine. This not only applies to our calling as Fathers, but also in our other church callings, and in our callings as Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers.
President Packer has stated, “Every elder should know that a call is more than an invitation or a request, even more than an assignment. Too frequently we hear such expressions as, ‘I have been asked to serve as a counselor in the elders quorum presidency.’ It would be more proper to say, ‘I have been called to serve as a counselor.’
“We do not call ourselves to offices in the Church. Rather we respond to the call of those who preside over us. It is the responsibility of those who preside to prayerfully consult the Lord as to His will concerning a position in the Church. Then the principle of revelation is at work. The call is then delivered by the presiding officer who is acting for the Lord.”
We must continue to apply the Doctrine of the Character of God as we work to accomplish our callings. This will mean that we seek to act, and not be acted upon. We seek opportunities to act as fathers to help teach our children to better understand the gospel and learn from mistakes. We seek opportunities to act as home teachers and visiting teachers to serve and come to better understand our friends that we are called to teach. We seek opportunities to act in our individual callings or responsibilities in the church to magnify (OR SHOW THE IMPORTANCE OF) our callings. Think of a magnifying glass. You use it to more carefully study, bring into better focus, and better view the importance of what is being studied. As we magnify our callings, we are that tool that helps others see the importance of the area that we called to serve in, as well as showing the importance of the Gospel itself. And as we magnify our calling as a father, we will magnify the importance of our Heavenly Father in our lives, and the Holy Ghost WILL testify of this to those who see your righteous example.
D&C 121:34-35 – Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men…
The French word for “Chosen” is “Elú”. The root of this word comes from the translated word, “Elect.” Thus, many are called, but few are “Elect.” How does this help with understanding this idea of being “chosen?”
D&C 84:33-34 – For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
Elder Bednar has taught, “To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen…I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen…the fundamental purposes for the gift of agency were to love one another and to choose God. Thus we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God.”
Considering that it’s Father’s Day, what can we do to magnify our calling as a Father?
President Henry B. Eyring in the last General Conference suggested four things we can do as a priesthood father to lift and lead your family home again to be with Heavenly Father and the Savior.
First, gain and keep a sure witness that the keys of the priesthood are with us and held by the President of the Church. Pray for that every day. The answer will come with an increase in determination to lead your family, in your feelings of hope, and with greater happiness in your service. You will be more cheerful and optimistic, a great blessing for your wife and family.
The second imperative is to love your wife. It will take faith and humility to put her interests above your own in the struggles of life. You have the responsibility to provide for and to nurture the family with her while serving others. That can at times consume all the energy and strength you have. Age and illness may increase your wife’s needs. If you choose even then to put her happiness above your own, I promise you that your love for her will increase.
Third, enlist the entire family to love each other. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
“In an eternal sense, salvation is a family affair. …
“Above all else, children need to know and feel they are loved, wanted, and appreciated. They need to be assured of that often. Obviously, this is a role parents should fill, and most often the mother can do it best.”
But another crucial source for that feeling of being loved is love from other children in the family. Consistent care of brothers and sisters for each other will come only with persistent effort by parents and the help of God. You know that is true from experience in your own families. Lead family prayers and family time, such as family home evenings. Give children opportunities to pray, when they can pray, for each other in the circle who need blessings. Discern quickly the beginnings of discord and recognize acts of unselfish service, especially to each other. When they pray for each other and serve each other, hearts will be softened and turned to each other and to their parents.
The fourth opportunity to lead your family in the Lord’s way comes when discipline is needed. We can meet our obligation to correct in the Lord’s way and then lead our children toward eternal life.
You will remember the words, but you may not have seen their power for a Melchizedek Priesthood holder preparing his family for living in the same sociality that they will have in the celestial kingdom. You remember the words. They are so familiar:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”
These four opportunities that President Eyring has specified will give us great power in seeking to be effective fathers. Wives and children can also follow these instructions to sustain their husband and father in being a magnifying glass in his callings.
I testify that as we seek to Honor Fatherhood through the Priesthood, we will be guided by the Holy Ghost in being the most effective in accomplishing our righteous desires. We will magnify our calling as a father, giving the Holy Ghost more opportunity to testify of proper Priesthood Leadership. Most importantly, we act in faith, in coming closer to our Heavenly Father by doing what He would do in our place, properly applying the Doctrine of the Character of God. As we do this, we CHOOSE God. We CHOOSE to be among His elect. I challenge each father, and prospective father, to follow these guidelines and CHOOSE God. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.