The following is the talk Jenson gave in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday August 24th 2014 prior to his leaving to serve his mission in the Mexico Tijuana Mission
Good morning brothers and sisters, today I would like to speak on preparing to become a worthy husband and father, and how my mission plays a role in that preparation.
The very first verse of the Book of Mormon reads:
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
I would like to focus my thoughts today around the beginning of that verse, where Nephi tells us that he was born to goodly parents and has been taught in all the learning of his father. I believe that the central roles of a parent, in this case a father, are to lead, and to teach obedience, love, and endurance to the end.
Lehi, Abraham, and Alma are three of the great examples of Fathers from the Scriptures, and we can use each one as a pattern for one of the roles of a father.
Lehi, the father of Nephi, was shown in a vision the destruction of Jerusalem and called to preach repentance unto the people. His words and preachings were not taken well by the Jews; in fact we can read in 1 Nephi chapter 1 verses 19 and 20 exactly how he was received:
19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.
20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away.
Even among threats of death, Lehi stood firm in his obedience to God’s commandment to him to teach repentance to the people. Shortly thereafter Lehi is told to take his family and depart into the wilderness, leaving behind their riches and the lands of their inheritance. Once again, Lehi does so without wavering, and even though he receives persecution from within his own family, he leads them to the promised land across the sea.
Lehi is an excellent example of leadership as a father. He leads his entire family out of the wickedness of Jerusalem and into the promised land, no matter what trials and persecution he faced, and he kept true to God’s commandments the entire time.
Young men, we can prepare to follow Lehi’s example of leadership now by magnifying all of the callings we might receive. Elder D. Todd Christoffersen, of the quorum of the Twelve, said this in his talk entitled “Brethren, we have work to do”:
“Of the many places you are needed, one of the very most important is your priesthood quorum. We need quorums that provide spiritual nourishment to members on Sunday and that also serve. We need leaders of quorums who focus on doing the Lord’s work and on supporting quorum members and their families.”
Our quorums are great practice for learning how to work in a family unit. We may be called to do things that are outside our comfort zone. We may be asked to work with people we do not always get along with. But, at the end of the day, we are all brethren in the priesthood and will support and sustain each other.
The next role of a father is to teach. One of the most important lessons is that of obedience. In Genesis 22, Abraham is commanded to take his young son to the top of a mountain and offer him as a burnt offering. Abraham does so without question, even though the thought of killing his own son must have been nearly paralyzing. Abraham’s obedience allowed him to receive incredible blessings from the Lord, found in Genesis 22:17
“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;”
Abraham’s example also led the way to two generations of righteous sons: Isaac and Jacob, later called Israel. Abraham’s posterity was and still is the covenant people of the Lord, and it is because of his obedience to the commandments of God. By looking to examples such as Abraham, as well as our own fathers, we as young men can learn to be obedient to the commandments and promptings from our Heavenly Father and prepare to partake in the blessings that come along with that obedience. It will not always be easy, but our righteousness will lead directly to blessings.
A father needs to know how to love. Alma the elder, the prophet from the Book of Mormon, had a son, also named Alma, who during his teenage years went around doing his best to bring down the church that his father was the head of. One day, as Alma the younger and four of his friends are walking down the road, and angel appeared unto them and chastised them for persecuting righteous people. Alma the younger, being so overwhelmed, collapsed and went into a sort of coma. When his father heard the news the scriptures say he “rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God.”
Alma’s love for his son is apparent. We can see that he only wants the best for him, and even though his son is doing very wicked things, his love for his son never falters. We can only imagine the long nights Alma spent thinking about his son, and the many prayers that were surely offered in his behalf. We can only imagine the joy that he must have felt when his son awoke from his sleep and told of how he had seen Christ in a vision, and how his sins had been forgiven. And we can only imagine the pride he must have felt in his son as he left the home to become one of the greatest missionaries in all of scripture.
Jesus Christ also talked a lot about love, and he even shares a parable that parallels Alma’s experience. In Luke 15, we read of a man who had two sons. The younger son asked his father for his inheritance, and the promptly left his home and went to a far off land to party. When his money runs out, he realizes the error of his ways and decides to return home to try and make amends. His father sees him coming down the road and runs to him, kisses him, and has a feast in his honor.
When the older brother comes in from the field and sees what is happening, he is angry because he stayed and was righteous. He confronts his father, and his father says to him, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet to make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
This father’s love for his both of his children never wavered, even though they were doing completely opposite things. One was working hard and staying righteous, while the other was off sinning and being disobedient, but at the end of the day they both came home to a loving father, and we can do the same. Our father in heaven loves each and every one of us perfectly and will do his best to support us and guide us as we seek him, and at the end of the day, we will be able to return home to his love.
As we learn to be obedient and to love those around us, we will also develop a desire to work and to serve. In the talk “Brethren, we have work to do,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson tells the story of a young man named Amar who lives in India. Says he:
“He gets up early and works two jobs, before and after school, six and a half days a week. His income provides a substantial part of his family’s livelihood. He hurries home on his worn bicycle from his second job after dark and somehow squeezes in a few hours of homework before dropping onto his bed on the floor between sleeping siblings around eleven o’clock at night. Although I’ve never met him, I feel proud of him for his diligence and courage. He is doing the very best he can with his limited resources and opportunities, and he is a blessing to his family.”
Amar’s sacrifice may not be one that we ever have to make, but we need to be prepared to do so anyway. We can practice service and love for each other once again through our quorums. Whether it is taking the sacrament to someone who cannot come to receive it for themselves or spending a Saturday morning doing yard work for someone else, as we serve others we learn to love them even more, and we will draw closer together because of it.
As fathers, our ability to work and serve is incredibly important. We will no doubt be called upon to support our families, which is a responsibility we must prepare to take on. We need to learn now how to work and to serve so that when the time comes, we are not caught off guard.
As we strive to be obedient and love and serve those around us, we will be faced with trials and temptations of every kind, which we must learn to rise above. For an example in the scriptures, I look to Jesus Christ, the perfect example. In Matthew chapter 4 verses 1-11, Lucifer himself appears to Christ and tempts him with all manner of things. Jesus resists and rebukes the temptation each time, and each time he does so he begins by saying, “it is written.”
We can take a valuable lesson from this. We need to keep ourselves near to our Savior by continually reading and searching the scriptures, so that we can have the knowledge to come away from any temptation we might face without succumbing to it. We need to keep ourselves worthy to hold and exercise the priesthood which we have been given to help us lead and guide our families in righteousness. This worthiness is essential as it allows us to receive guidance and direction from the Holy Ghost in regards to our own families and their needs.
I was asked specifically to talk about how serving a mission will help me become more prepared to become a worthy husband and father. Elder Christoffersen says this:
“Consider missionary work. Young men, you have no time to waste. You can’t wait to get serious about preparing until you are 17 or 18. Aaronic Priesthood quorums can help their members understand the oath and covenant of the priesthood and get ready for ordination as elders, they can help them understand and prepare for the ordinances of the temple, and they can help them get ready for successful missions. Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society can help parents prepare missionaries who know the Book of Mormon and who will go into the field fully committed. And in each ward and branch, these same quorums can lead out in an effective collaboration with the full-time missionaries who are serving there.”
Serving a mission will help me in all of the areas I have discussed. A mission is a calling from God, so by serving a mission I am doing my best to magnify that calling. I will also learn to be obedient as I strive to keep all of the mission rules, no matter what. And I will learn to love those around me even more as I serve and teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Making all of these things habits will aid me in having a foundation to build on as I prepare to be a worthy husband and father.