"For this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us."
|Minerva Teichert's "Jesus and the Children"|
Back in 2003 Elder Jeffery R Holland, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, gave a talk called “A Prayer for the Children”. In it he addresses the importance of something we, as parents and role models for children must do.
“As parents we can hold life together the way it is always held together—with love and faith, passed on to the next generation, one child at a time.
In offering such a prayer for the young, may I address a rather specific aspect of their safety? In this I speak carefully and lovingly to any of the adults of the Church, parents or otherwise, who may be given to cynicism or skepticism, who in matters of whole-souled devotion always seem to hang back a little, who at the Church’s doctrinal campsite always like to pitch their tents out on the periphery of religious faith. To all such—whom we do love and wish were more comfortable camping nearer to us—I say, please be aware that the full price to be paid for such a stance does not always come due in your lifetime. No, sadly, some elements of this can be a kind of profligate national debt, with payments coming out of your children’s and grandchildren’s pockets in far more expensive ways than you ever intended it to be.
Parents simply cannot flirt with skepticism or cynicism, then be surprised when their children expand that flirtation into full-blown romance. If in matters of faith and belief children are at risk of being swept downstream by this intellectual current or that cultural rapid, we as their parents must be more certain than ever to hold to anchored, unmistakable moorings clearly recognizable to those of our own household. It won’t help anyone if we go over the edge with them, explaining through the roar of the falls all the way down that we really did know the Church was true and that the keys of the priesthood really were lodged there but we just didn’t want to stifle anyone’s freedom to think otherwise. No, we can hardly expect the children to get to shore safely if the parents don’t seem to know where to anchor their own boat. Isaiah once used a variation on such imagery when he said of unbelievers, “[Their] tacklings are loosed; they could not … strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail.” 6
I think some parents may not understand that even when they feel secure in their own minds regarding matters of personal testimony, they can nevertheless make that faith too difficult for their children to detect. We can be reasonably active, meeting-going Latter-day Saints, but if we do not live lives of gospel integrity and convey to our children powerful heartfelt convictions regarding the truthfulness of the Restoration and the divine guidance of the Church from the First Vision to this very hour, then those children may, to our regret but not surprise, turn out not to be visibly active, meeting-going Latter-day Saints or sometimes anything close to it.”
I’ve returned to this talk several times in the past few months, and pondered how I can personally be sure that my children and grandchildren will have a sure knowledge of my testimony. When reading just yesterday, I came across a passage in the book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” by Spencer W Kimball. He supports Elder Holland’s statements by clearly telling us what our negligence in making our testimony known (Or, our lack of secure, firm Gospel living) can do:
“Such people fail to bear testimony to their descendants, destroy faith within their own homes, and actually deny the “right to the priesthood” to succeeding generations who might otherwise been faithful in all things.” (pg. 43)
As I’ve pondered these passages, it has turned my mind to what I need to do as a parent and role model to make my testimony known to the children in my life. I want my children to understand and build upon the same foundation of the Gospel that I have, as laid for me by my ancestors. I pray that my children will be able to say, as did the Stripling Warriors, “We did not doubt our mother knew it.” (Alma 56:49)