First Presidency Message

Teaching Children of God


Teaching Children of God

This message is directed to all who are presently serving in positions of leadership in the Church, to those who may eventually take over such positions, and to those who will be following their leadership.

As members of the Church each of us must recognize his individual responsibility to promote the kingdom of God, which is His church on earth. There are certain fundamental things we must recognize in order to properly assume and discharge these responsibilities.

First of all, we must recognize that we are all spirit children of God, and I can think of no better way to explain who we are and why we are here than to quote from the words of the well-known song, “I Am a Child of God”:

I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.
I am a child of God,
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I’ll live with him once more.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

(Sing with Me, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978, p. B-76).

It is a marvelous privilege to be a member of and work in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints under the direction of a prophet, knowing that we are doing the will of our Father in Heaven. I know and bear testimony that President Spencer W. Kimball is a prophet of God and directs the affairs of His church on the earth today.

In my opinion no greater call can come to anyone than to be a teacher in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are all teachers in one way or another, whether we have been called and set apart as such or not. The Savior himself was known as the greatest of all teachers. Let us try in every way to emulate him and his example.

My heart is always touched when I think of his visit to the people on the American continent. This story, other stories of his life, and his parables are the best way I know to help us understand that Jesus Christ actually lives, that he is interested in us, that he loves us, that he wants us to do right in order that we might be happy.

Certainly there is no better way of emphasizing to children—and we are all children in the eyes of our Father in Heaven—the great love and concern Jesus has for them than by reading the scriptures about this event.

“And it came to pass that he commanded that their little children should be brought.

“So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him.

“And it came to pass that when they had all been brought, and Jesus stood in the midst, he commanded the multitude that they should kneel down upon the ground.

“And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel.

“And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.

“And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;

“And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.

“And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.

“And it came to pass that Jesus spake unto them, and bade them arise.

“And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.

“And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.

“And when he had done this he wept again;

“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.

“And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them” (3 Ne. 17:11–24).

Can you imagine a sweeter picture or more wonderful experience? This story teaches us that the Lord loves us and that angels are watching over us. We also learn that we can pray to a loving Father in Heaven who hears and answers our prayers. One of the most effective ways to influence the thinking and lives of our children is to keep good thoughts before them in the form of good stories, pictures, and ideals.

We are most fortunate as members of the Church to know and be able to bear testimony beyond any doubt that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that they are personally interested in us, and that we have the true and everlasting gospel. Let us live every day so as to let others know that we do have this testimony; that there is no doubt in our minds; that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength; and that we are prepared to serve him in all things. He has said:

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

I have observed and proven many times in my life the truthfulness of the admonition and promise given by the Savior in these words:

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

It is so easy today to allow ourselves to become more interested in worldly affairs and in the enjoyment of worldly things than to continue religiously to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. It is most important, therefore, that we are always on the alert, remembering that one teaches more effectively by example than by precept. Let us never forget the old axiom: “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

What a great world this would be if the leaders in every organization could live so they could properly say, “Come, follow me,” as the Savior said, and know that our Father’s children were being led in the paths of truth and righteousness.

I have always been impressed with the following verse which I learned many years ago:

I am the child.
You hold in your hand my destiny.
You determine, largely, whether I shall succeed or fail.
Teach me, I pray, those things that make for happiness.
Train me, I beg, that I may be a blessing to the world.

If we can so live and so teach that by our example and word we can help others to make the world a better place to live, we will have fulfilled a part of our obligation to our Heavenly Father. May we all determine so to do.

[illustration] Look to Your Children, by Minerva Teichert