Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy gave a talk entitled, "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" this last conference and I enjoyed it when I heard it but it was when I read it that the message had a profound effect on me. It is powerful and life-guiding. (I'm sorry that it is such a long post but I couldn't do it any other way :) I hope you will read on or if anything simply go read his talk.
A Commandment to Teach Faith -
He shares so perfectly the importance of teaching our children Faith in Jesus Christ, "As parents, we have been commanded to teach our children “to understand the doctrine of . . . faith in Christ the Son of the living God” (D&C 68:25)...faith is truly a spiritual gift worthy of our utmost efforts. We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little."
I love that last statement. We live in times of chaotic and full schedules. We live in times when people measure themselves on the total of their material possessions. We live in times that urge us to give our children both experience and material things. But are we making sure that during this time we are taking the time to give them faith? He clearly states that those other things add up to be much of nothing, that if we give them those things without faith "we have given little".
Throughout the rest of Elder Pearson's talk I have pulled 3 ways to build and strengthen the faith our children (all along the way strengthening our own faith in Jesus Christ):
1 - Bear Testimony to Your Children (this stirs up a seed of faith)
“Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith” (Bible Dictionary, 669; see also Romans 10:14–17). Do your children know that you know? Do they see and feel your conviction?"
I love the use of the word 'kindled' here. As we simply give our children opportunities to hear us bear our testimonies or to hear the testimonies of others their faith will light up, it will start burning, it will be ignited.
Do Your Children Know That You Know?
2 - Be an Example of Exact Obedience (this strengthens faith)
"If we desire more faith, we must be more obedient. When we teach our children by example or precept to be casual or situational in obeying God’s commandments, we prevent them from receiving this vital spiritual gift. Faith requires an attitude of exact obedience, even in the small, simple things."
I was struck by the bolded phrase above and particularly the word PREVENT. This thought simply multiplies the feeling of obligation we as parents must have be strictly and exactly obedient in our example because when we as parents are examples of casual obedience we are responsible for preventing our children of receiving the vital spiritual gift of faith. We rob ourselves of more faith and as our children follow our example we prevent them from gaining their own personal faith. What a responsibility the Lord has entrusted us with.
3 - Avoid and Overcome the Forces that Erode Faith
"Because there is an opposition in all things, there are forces that erode our faith. Some are the result of Satan’s direct influence. But for others, we have no one but ourselves to blame. These stem from personal tendencies, attitudes, and habits we can learn to change. I will refer to these influences as the “Six Destructive Ds.” As I do, consider their influence on you or your children."
You may watch this video of the 6 Destructive Ds or read a short definition of each below:
- Doubt - Lack of confidence in one's self or abilities
- Discouragement - Missed expectations
- Distraction - A lack of focus
- Lack of Diligence - A reduced commitment to remain true and faithful
- Disobedience - Lack of obedience
- Disbelief - The state of having CHOSEN to harden one's heart.
I find it powerful that each D leads to the next. It makes it simple to know that if we stop the destruction early we will never reach the state of disobedience or disbelief. If we recognize and avoid the work of Satan in our lives and overcome the bad personal tendencies that we have formed we will never be lead to the destruction of our faith and we can help our children to avoid and overcome these influences in their lives.
The D's are a well thought out plan or map in watching ourselves and our children. It is a guide to checking where we are at and where we should be. I will use these 6 Destructive D's in my life and as a parent. I am so excited for such a simple list because looking back on my life I can see some of the steps taking place little by little and I wish I would've caught them sooner.
I also find it interesting that the destruction begins with each of us personally and our faith in ourselves, it does not necessarily begin with the eroding of our faith in Christ, although they are so closely connected. Elder Pearson doesn't explain the first D of Doubt as doubting our faith but simply the lack of confidence in ourselves. Satan works in such small ways to bring us down in such big ones. He starts with confidence in ourselves to eventually lead us to a state of disbelief.
The Savior's Promise
"Challenging times require greater spiritual power. Consider carefully the Savior’s promise: “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moroni 7:33)." What a wonderful promise.
I don't think that I have even skimmed the surface of explaining what this talk has taught me and the profound effect it has had on me, I don't know how. I do know that it was a powerful message, one that we as parents need to listen to and follow. With all that is going on in the world today adding more faith to both our own and our children's lives will be essential.
Let us strive to bear our testimonies to our children more often. Let us strive to be more exact examples of obedience. Let us recognize, avoid, and overcome the destructive influences that attempt to erode our faith. Let us remember that these thoughts are not only to help us gain stronger faith but that it is a commandment to teach our children the doctrine of faith. "Challenging times [do and will] require greater spiritual power."