The Visiting Teacher:

Family: A Center of Spiritual Growth

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    The Book of Mormon tells of two thousand remarkably faithful young men who fought for liberty with Helaman. “Never had I seen so great courage,” wrote Helaman. He then explained the source of their faith: “They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” (Alma 56:45, 47.)

    Elder James E. Faust explained the power of what we learn at home: “It is in a home and with a family that values are usually acquired, traditions are fostered, and commitments to others are established. There are really no adequate substitutes [for home and family].” (Ensign, May 1987, p. 81.)

    Putting the Lord First

    The Hurtado family—a widowed mother and her four children—ran a small store in their home in Bolivia. Sunday was the day the store did the most business. Missionaries taught and baptized the whole family. The week after they were baptized, one daughter asked Sister Hurtado who would stay home to tend the store on Sunday. Her mother announced that the store would now be closed on Sunday. Her daughter reminded her that they would lose their best business, but Sister Hurtado remained firm. Eventually, the store’s overall sales actually increased.

    Her mother’s faith helped strengthen the daughter’s commitment to the gospel. Later she served a mission. And as she taught, she often told about her mother’s decision to obey the commandments. (See Ensign, Apr. 1987, pp. 34–35.)

    Family priorities are of eternal significance. President Ezra Taft Benson asked, “Are we striving to put the Lord first and to please Him?” (Ensign, May 1988, p. 5.)

    What are some ways we can put the Lord first in our families?

    A Place to Grow Spiritually

    When we put the Lord first in our home, it becomes a place where our spirits can be renewed and strengthened. Margaret Murdock of Salt Lake City, a single mother of five, was asked to teach a Relief Society lesson about the scriptures. As she prepared her lesson, she began to realize that she had never studied the scriptures enough to make them part of her everyday thinking and that she needed more guidance.

    Sister Murdock began studying the scriptures for a half hour each morning and also at night. As a result, she is finding that the Lord’s words come to mind when she has problems at home or at work. “Now I see the people I deal with at work as children of our Heavenly Father, whether they are religious or not,” says Sister Murdock. One of her co-workers is hard to work with, but sister Murdock is making an effort to get along with him. “He’s a child of God, too,” she says. “He just doesn’t know it yet.”

    Because she is taking the time for the Lord at home, Sister Murdock is feeling greater peace—whatever difficulties may arise.

    Our family may be large or small. It may include a married couple or a single adult. It may or may not include children. But whatever the circumstance, each of us can make our family a center of spiritual growth.

    What activities can help us grow spiritually?

    Illustrated by Ron Peterson