Today is Father’s Day and I would like to share some of my feelings on being a father and about my father. When I first became a father 38 years ago, I had no idea of the joy and sorrow that I would experience as I learned how to be a good father to my children. I have found joy in every new step, every new experience and every new success that my children experienced. I sorrowed with them and for them as they made mistakes, broke bones, failed a test, skinned their knees and wandered from the gospel path.
Now that I have experienced the blessing of being a father, I wish that I had been a better son and not caused so much grief for my father. I don’t think that I was willfully rebellious or disobedient but like most children I did not appreciate what my parents were going through and I did not always show them the respect that they deserved. Like all parents they were trying to learn how to do the best that they could. They had that same manual for raising children, that I had – the example of their parents. Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke of the special relationship between a father and his son:
“You see, we’re all on a journey. Dads are a little further down the road, but none of us has yet arrived at our final destination. We are all in the process of becoming who we will one day be. Fathers and sons can play a critical role in helping each other become the best that they can be.
“I know that father-son relationships are never perfect, but everything I am going to suggest to you tonight is possible if you will put in the effort to make it happen.
“Young men, you are your father’s pride and joy. In you they see a promising future and their hope for a better, improved version of themselves. Your accomplishments are a joy to them. Your worries and problems are their worries and problems.
“Fathers, you are the primary model of manhood for your sons. You are their most meaningful mentor, and believe it or not, you are their hero in countless ways. Your words and your example are a great influence on them. (“Fathers and Sons: A Remarkable Relationship”, M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2009)
My father has been gone for almost eight years. He tried the best that he knew how to raise his sons. All of us have grown up to be fathers to our own children and now our sons are fathers and the cycle of life continues. What a wonderful experience it is to see your sons grow up to be wonderful, loving fathers. All of this happens in spite of the inadequacies and mistakes we made along the way.
The best place we can look for good examples of fathers is in the scriptures. In the very first verse of the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us that he was born of goodly parents and that they taught him many things including the goodness and mysteries of God. Nephi and his brothers were taught to keep the commandments and to enquire of the Lord when they needed answers to their prayers. Some of Lehi’s children followed those teachings and some did not.
Another example of a father’s love for his children is found in Mosiah 27. Alma the Younger and the Son’s of Mosiah are among those who are not keeping the commandments and they caused many members to fall away. Because of the prayers of the Prophet Alma an angle appeared to Alma the Younger and the Son’s of Mosiah and called them to repentance. Alma continually prayed for his wayward son and never gave up on him and his friends. We should never stop praying for our children, especially those who have wandered from the gospel.
The best example we have of a father and son relationship is that of our Father in Heaven and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus was baptized and came up out of the water The Father said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Also after Christ was resurrected and appeared to the people here in America, The Father announced him by saying: “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him”. (3 Nephi 11:7)
Moses was taught about the plan of salvation and how Christ was chosen to be the Savior of mankind and how Satan rebelled and tried to take the glory away from The Father.
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.
Christ’s whole purpose was to do the Father’s will and not take any glory to himself. Lucifer on the other hand rebelled against The Father and also wanted all the glory for himself. What are our motives, do we bring honor to our fathers or are we trying to bring ourselves the glory of the world. While teaching the people in Jerusalem Christ taught about how he always does The Father’s will:
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
That all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (Matthew 5)
What a great example for us to follow and to teach our sons to do the same. If we want our sons to do our will, we need to have our lives in harmony with the gospel principles. In They Family: A Proclamation to the World it says: “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.”
I am grateful for my earthly father as well as my Heavenly Father. I am grateful to be a father and as I strive to do my father’s will I hope my sons will do the same. I am grateful that my sons have grown up and are now great fathers even though I made many mistakes. I invite you to click on the video clip below to watch a father’s day message from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I welcome your comments and questions.