How to help children learn to follow the counsel of Church leaders

As a Sunday School class, we have been studying about the prophets of the Church. When we had the lesson about Joseph Fielding Smith and how he followed the counsel of the prophets by studying the scriptures, we were asked by our teacher how we think children should be taught to follow the counsel of our Church leaders. The following was our reply on what parents should be doing to teach their children:

Be an example. This includes going to stake conference, and watching or attending general conference together and teaching children from the conference talks.- Never criticize or complain about the decisions or counsel given by Church leaders. Accept and serve cheerfully in whatever Church assignment is given.

Read the scriptures and pray to receive a testimony of the teachings that are there for us. Then, be open for discussion with your children when they don't understand the counsel given. Explain by applying the scriptures and counsel to daily situations and challenges. Family home evening is a great time for these discussions. Always have available resources such as scriptures, Church magazines and books written by prophets.

Help children recognize the Spirit and receive a testimony of our leaders and their inspired counsel. It is difficult to live a principle if we do not have our own testimony of it.

A pointer is to give each child items to help keep them interested in conference talks. These items could include pencils, a few index cards with a picture of a General Authority on each and a list of key words to listen for. Then, each child gets points for notes written about his/her speaker and for correct answers to questions presented at home that evening. The child who has enough points wins a prize.

Remember, "The way of the fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise." (Prov. 12:15.) - Course 14-18 Sunday School class, Manteca (Calif.) 1st Ward

How we did it:

Know counsel

It is difficult to follow the counsel of Church leaders if we do now know what their counsel is. Take advantage of opportunities that will expose our children to their words. By attending Church regularly as a family we can receive direction from ward leaders. By being in attendance at stake conference and its associated meetings we receive direction from stake and regional leaders and sometimes General Authorities.

If the opportunity is available, attend general conference together. Read the First Presidency message each month in the Ensign. Make time in family home evening, or otherwise, to discuss the instructions given and how we can apply them individually or as a family. - Marilyn Pickard, Green River, Wyo.

Be supportive

Be supportive of Church leaders. Be non-critical, non-judgmental; speak positively.

Be an example. Follow the counsel given at Church meetings, whether it be sacrament meetings, stake conferences or general conferences.

Read the written words of the prophets to your children.

Start at a young age with the children. Teach them basic values, such as being respectful, tolerant, grateful and reverent. We, as families, need to get back to the teachings of Jesus concerning human relationships.

Have an attitude of compassion toward Church leaders. Teach children that our leaders are human. - Richard and Gloria Moulton, Hickory, N.C.

Informal opportunities

A parent has opportunities to teach children by example to follow the counsel of Church leaders. A parent might relate pertinent stories of counsel from Church leaders. For example, while working on a building project with my son, I told him how Brigham Young once counseled a man to double the walls of the man's house while he was building it. The man listened to President Young's counsel and doubled the walls. A storm came up and the man's house stood. The other houses were destroyed.

There are opportunities in every day work and life to share the counsel of Church leaders with our children. - Joseph Justice, Pecks Mill, W.V.

Test of obedience

While I was growing up, I was taught by my dad to always follow our Church leaders. I thought that was a principle I understood. Then a couple of years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in conflict with a policy set by our stake president. The Lord taught us that it made no difference how right we felt; our test here is of obedience and, through faith, of sustaining the Lord's leadership. This was a terrific lesson for us. We realized that the stake president had the priesthood authority; when we agreed to follow his counsel, our feelings of conflict left us and we were no longer at odds with ourselves.

We have been blessed to bear testimony to our children that their greatest blessings come from obedience, not from proving they are right. I have a testimony that the Lord will make all things right. - Name withheld, Nevada

Be example

Be an example. Example is the best teacher. Make sure you are following the Church leaders yourself, then you won't be asking your children to do what you're not doing. For example, follow the counsel of Church leaders concerning movies, standards of dress, Word of Wisdom and chastity.

Don't speak evil of the Lord's anointed. Don't make fun of them or murmur. Otherwise, children find it hard to respect and follow someone when they don't feel their parents do. Be careful of what you say about your bishop and stake president in the presence of your children.

Pray for them by name.

Attend your meetings. Become familiar with your Church leaders and acquaint your children with them.

Keep Church literature and magazines in your home, such as the Church News.

Welcome home teachers in your home; make sure your children are present and associate with the home teachers. - David and Linda Hansen, Harvest, Ala.

Start early

The key on this subject, as on any other subject, when teaching children is to start when they are very young. It is so special to hear a 3-year-old grandchild pray by himself. Concerning teaching children to follow the counsel of Church leaders, it might help to have a picture of the prophet in your home and tell children about him and his life so they will feel they know him. Remind them he speaks for the Lord and we should listen.

Set an example yourself by sustaining and supporting your bishopric. Never let your children hear you criticize our leaders. Point out the differences in people's lives between those who follow Church leaders and those who don't. See which ones are happy.

Share your testimony with them on the importance of listening to our leaders. - Marilyn Flitton, Idaho Falls, Idaho

How to checklist:

1 Help children gain testimony that Lord directs His Church through chosen leaders.

2 Be example; support leaders yourself, be respectful.

3 Help children be able to identify leaders; attend meetings; watch general conference.

4 Pray as a family for leaders; be Christlike toward them.


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Oct. 29 "How to help a loved one with a disability reach his or her potential."

Nov. 5 "How to cope with the heartache of miscarriage."

Nov. 12 "How to engender understanding of differing religious beliefs among family members and loved ones."

Nov. 19 "How to help someone trying to come back into Church activity."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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