The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand the responsibility the father has to plan and provide for the needs of his family.
A prophet of the Lord said: “The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity. Our purpose in life is to create for ourselves eternal family units” (Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 13; or Ensign, July 1972, 27).
Prophets and Apostles have taught 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 Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). This sacred obligation, given to us by the Lord, is the most important work a father will ever perform. President David O. McKay stated that “no other success can compensate for failure in the home” (quoting J. E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization , 42, in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116).
It is in the family that children should be cared for and taught eternal principles. “The most important of the Lord’s work will be that which we do within our own homes,” said President Harold B. Lee (Regional Representatives Seminar Report, Apr. 1972, 2). No other teacher can affect our children as much as we can as parents. For this reason, we must teach our children both by our example and our words. We are promised that if we and our wives and children are sealed together in the temple and faithfully live the principles of the gospel, we can live together as eternal families in the celestial kingdom (see chapter 47, “Exaltation,” in the Gospel Principles manual).
As fathers, we are expected to provide for the physical needs of our families. To meet the physical necessities of our family we should:
Work at an honest job.
Budget family resources in cooperation with our wife.
Teach our children to work.
Direct a program of home production and storage.
Modern scriptures teach that those who could work but do not “shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer” (D&C 42:42). The Lord has said that unless the idler changes his ways, he will not receive the blessings that those who work will receive. He may not even keep his place in the Church (see D&C 75:29). Of course, it does not matter what work we do as long as it is honest and satisfying work.
With his wife, a husband should organize a family budget. The income he acquires is not his alone—it belongs to the entire family. He is responsible to see that the financial needs of every family member are being met, not just his own. When he puts forth his best efforts to provide for the physical needs of his family, the Lord will bless him, and his wife and children can carry out their proper tasks in the family.
Show visual 12-a, “Families who work together are blessed both temporally and spiritually.”
Children should be encouraged and allowed to receive as much education as possible to make sure they are prepared for their life’s work. As far as possible, they should not be taken from school in order to work. This does not mean our children should not have work to do in the home. President Harold B. Lee instructed parents to give special chores to children to keep them from boredom and allow them to develop mature work habits (see “Preparing Our Youth,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 3).
One duty children could be given is to care for a family garden. We have been counseled to plant family gardens to produce some of our own food needs and then to store as much food as possible. President Spencer W. Kimball counseled each family to “grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. … Develop your skills in your home preservation and storage. We reaffirm the previous counsel the Church has always given, to acquire and maintain a year’s supply” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 170–71; or Ensign, May 1976, 124).
What are some tasks we can do as a family to teach our children to work? When we are unable to provide for the physical needs of our families, where can we obtain help? (We should always seek help first from family members and relatives who may be in a position to help. If they can’t help us, we should turn to the Church and contact our quorum leaders. Government welfare agencies should be contacted only if the Church is unable to help us in the ways we need help.)
To meet the spiritual needs of our family we can:
Teach the gospel to our wife and children.
Have daily family prayer.
Make our home a place that invites the Spirit of the Lord to abide with us.
Pay tithes and offerings to the Lord.
Hold worthwhile family home evenings.
These are all sacred responsibilities. The Doctrine and Covenants points out the importance of one of these duties in particular.
Have class members read Doctrine and Covenants 68:25, 28. What has the Lord commanded us to teach our children?
A father must make sure that his family is taught the gospel in the home. One of the best ways to begin this teaching is in family home evening. This provides a regular time for us to talk with and instruct our families. The First Presidency has urged all parents “to meet regularly with their families on Monday evenings, there to teach them the scriptures … and to bear testimony to them. Parents should take these opportunities to get close to their children, to listen to their problems and [goals], and to give them the personal direction that they need so much” (“Message from the First Presidency,” Family Home Evening manual, 1976–77, 3).
For a father to properly teach his children, he must organize his time to be home with his family often. He also needs to show the joy of living the gospel in his own life by faithfully paying tithes and offerings to the Church, accepting and fulfilling Church callings, and keeping the other commandments.
How can the Church help us teach our children?
Show visual 12-b, “King Benjamin provided for both the physical and the spiritual needs of his family.”
The Book of Mormon teaches us about a great prophet-king and father, King Benjamin (see Mosiah 2:12, 14). Even though he was a king and a prophet, he worked with his own hands to provide for his family. He did not expect others to support him. As fathers, we should follow his example and provide for our families.
Abraham is another father we can pattern our lives after. Because of his faithfulness, he was promised a righteous family and a great posterity (see Genesis 17:3–8). Abraham was blessed for his diligence in following the Lord and properly providing for his family. We can have these same blessings as we take care of the spiritual and temporal needs of our families. In addition, love will increase in our homes, and our families will progress spiritually.
The following story tells how blessings came to a father and his family as he accepted and lived the gospel:
Before Joseph Garcia joined the Church, he enjoyed drinking with his friends and spent little time at home. As a result, his wife often had to take small cleaning jobs to earn money to help support the family. His children barely knew him. They feared him more than they respected or loved him.
One day, however, he was introduced to some missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After six months of meetings with the missionaries, his life completely changed. He quit keeping company with his friends in the bars and soon joined the Church. He began spending time with his children, holding family home evenings and enjoying outings with them and his wife. He planned a careful family budget which allowed his wife to quit working and spend all of her time at home.
He quickly found that he enjoyed his home and the time he spent with his wife more than he ever enjoyed his former friends. His children learned to love him and today are trying to follow his example of righteous living.
Evaluate how well you are doing in meeting the spiritual and physical needs of your family.
Commit yourself to fulfilling the needs of your family.
Work out a plan with your wife and children to bring your lives in line with the scriptures and the counsel of Church leaders.
Before presenting this lesson: