Sunday, June 20, 2010

Examples of Good Fatherhood in the Book of Mormon

Today in sacrament meeting one of the speakers said they were asked to talk about lessons they learned from the scriptures. Since it’s Father’s Day, I started to thinking about what lessons and what good examples the Book of Mormon contained of righteous fathers.

Lehi taught all his sons (surely not just Nephi) somewhat in all his learning--in the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. He shared his dream about the tree of life because he was concerned about the spiritual status and future of his sons Laman and Lemuel. He also gave blessings to all his sons before he died.

King Benjamin taught his sons in all the language of his fathers to help them become men of understanding so that they could appreciate the scriptures and understand the mysteries of God.

Alma the Elder prayed with much faith for his rebellious son Alma to be brought to a knowledge of the truth. (This must have been after all he could do to teach him the truth.)

King Mosiah allowed his sons to go on a dangerous mission to preach to the Lamanites. He taught his sons to work so they did not burden the people. This gave Ammon valuable shepherding skills that he used to serve others in his missionary work.

Alma the Younger took his sons with him in his ministry and gave them responsibilities to teach the gospel. He gave all his sons charges according to their spiritual needs, each of which were quite different. He shared his conversion story and bore testimony that he had been supported by trusting in God. He shared words of wisdom. He reprimanded his son Corianton for sin, explained why it was wrong, and admonished him to repent. He also answered Corianton’s questions about the gospel to make sure he understood.

Helaman gave his sons Nephi and Lehi names to try to inspire them to do as their righteous ancestors had done. Undoubtedly he also rehearsed to them the stories of Lehi and Nephi and their lives of faith.

Mormon wrote letters to his son Moroni to share revelation he had received about issues Moroni was dealing with.

When you look at what things these fathers did, they were pretty simple:
  • Gave their children good names to remind them to do good.
  • Teaching language, understanding, the gospel of Christ, mysteries of godliness.
  • Telling stories of ancestors, telling their conversion stories.
  • Answering questions, reprimanding, writing letters of instruction.
  • Teaching their children to work.
  • Teaching their children skills.
  • Giving their children teaching responsibilities.
  • Allowing their children to do difficult things.
  • Praying for their children.
  • Blessing their children.
When I look at that list, I see that my father has been a good father; he’s done everything for me that I just listed that the Book of Mormon fathers did.

What effect did these fathers have?

Nephi prayed and pondered on the words Lehi spoke about his dream and obtained a personal witness and angelic visitation and vision about that dream.

Enos’s soul hungered and he sought forgiveness for his sins because he remembered the words his father Jacob had often spoken about the plan of salvation and the joy of the saints.

King Mosiah recognized the mysteries of godliness he read from the account of Ether which he translated and he began to understand the dangers of kingship, so he worked to set up a system of judges instead.

Alma the Younger was able to ask for forgiveness of his many sins because he remembered the words his father had taught about Jesus Christ and His redeeming power.

Mosiah’s four sons gave up any claim to the kingdom and preached to the Lamanites, converting many to the gospel.

The stripling warriors cared so much about the freedom of their fathers that they were willing to take an oath to fight in all cases to protect them.

Moroni worked hard to engrave into the Book of Mormon several letters his father Mormon had sent him, which he evidently treasured. He also continued his father’s work on the Book of Mormon by abridging the Book of Ether, which Mormon hadn’t been able to complete before he was killed.

One of the effects my father has had one me is to build my appreciation of the scriptures. Because he was willing to share his thoughts about the scriptures, I have followed his example, and this blog is a product of that. Happy Father’s Day!


S.Faux said...

Many of the good fathers that you list had wayward sons. Such fathers of such sons were often direct (good communicators) but are were patient. I think we all need to remember that sons and daughters have agency, and that we parents need to respect that agency, even when we disagree with the choices being made.

As a father of such a son, I feel considerably blessed that he eventually returned to the church, was ordained to the priesthood, got married in the temple, and is now teaching an Institute class.

I was not a great father, but I did make at least one great decision. That decision was to continue to love and cherish my prodigal son, and to make sure he felt he was a full part of the family. Such love keep the door open a crack, allowing the spirit of Christ to eventually seep through.

Kenny said...

I have to agree with S.Faux. My father is a wonderful man who is very in tune with the spirit I think. He is also very human. My dad is an institute teacher and does an excellent job at his calling of gospel doctrine teacher in our ward. As such, many people in our ward think very highly of him, as I do. However, they think he is much more perfect than he is. As his son, it is easy for me to see his flaws and imperfections. Yet he is a great man and I couldn't ask for a better father. The reason I bring this up is because I am sure that the men in the Book of Mormon who we often see as the most amazing people that have walked this earth were also human. Now my father is not a prophet, and he has never walked with the Lord (not that I know of at least), but I believe that these ancient prophets, like my dad, have their own weaknesses that are common to man. I also believe that, like my dad, they all worked hard everyday to become a better father. My dad is such a great man. As S.Faux suggested, patience is a virtue that all fathers should try to acquire. While my dad may get a little impatient when he is stressed or tired, he always has the patience with me when I have done wrong. I regret to say that I have done things that have greatly disappointed both my father on earth and my Father in Heaven. But I know that both of them love me and forgive me for my wrong-doings. I am grateful for both such fathers, and I am grateful that I can call myself their son.

Sean said...

I have to give you huge thanks for writing this. Great organization, great thoughts. I used this structure liberally when giving a talk on Fathers Day a couple weeks ago. Thank you!