- Early warning signals are evident in many aspects of our lives. For example, a fever can be a first symptom of sickness or disease. Various financial and labor market indicators are used to forecast future trends in local and national economies. And depending upon the area of the world in which we live, we may receive flood, avalanche, hurricane, tsunami, tornado, or winter storm warnings. We also are blessed by spiritual early warning signals as a source of protection and direction in our lives.
He then outlines three things that can be done to prepare us spiritually for the challenges of this life. He goes on to look at each of these three areas for his talk.
- I pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost as I describe a spiritual early warning system that can help parents in Zion to be watchful and discerning concerning their children. This early warning system applies to children of all ages and contains three basic components: (1) reading and talking about the Book of Mormon with your children, (2) bearing testimony of gospel truths spontaneously with your children, and (3) inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon. Parents who do these things faithfully will be blessed to recognize early signals of spiritual growth in or challenges with their children and be better prepared to receive inspiration to strengthen and help those children.
Component Number One: Reading and Talking about the Book of Mormon
- The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth because it centers upon the Truth, even Jesus Christ, and restores the plain and precious things that have been taken away from the true gospel. The unique combination of these two factors—a focus on the Savior and the plainness of the teachings—powerfully invites the confirming witness of the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost. Consequently, the Book of Mormon speaks to the spirit and to the heart of the reader like no other volume of scripture. Regular reading of and talking about the Book of Mormon invite the power to resist temptation and to produce feelings of love within our families. And discussions about the doctrines and principles in the Book of Mormon provide opportunities for parents to observe their children, to listen to them, to learn from them, and to teach them.
Component Number Two: Bearing Testimony Spontaneously
- Testimony is personal knowledge, based upon the witness of the Holy Ghost, that certain facts of eternal significance are true.
- Parents should be vigilant and spiritually attentive to spontaneously occurring opportunities to bear testimony to their children. Such occasions need not be programmed, scheduled, or scripted. In fact, the less regimented such testimony sharing is, the greater the likelihood for edification and lasting impact. “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” ( D&C 84:85).
He then gives an example of possible informal conversations that share our testimony with those we love.
- For example, a naturally occurring family conversation at dinner may be the perfect setting for a parent to recount and testify of specific blessings he or she received during the course of relatively routine activities that day. And a testimony need not always begin with the phrase “I bear you my testimony.” Our witness can be declared as simply as “I know I was blessed with inspiration at work today” or “The truth in this scripture always has been a powerful source of direction for me.” Similar opportunities to bear testimony also can arise while traveling together in a car or bus or in a multitude of other settings.
Component Number Three: Inviting Children to Act
- Inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon builds on reading and talking about the Book of Mormon and bearing testimony spontaneously in the home. Imagine, for example, a family home evening in which children are invited and expected to come prepared to ask questions about what they are reading and learning in the Book of Mormon—or about an issue that recently was emphasized in a gospel discussion or spontaneous testimony in the home. And imagine further that the children ask questions the parents are not prepared adequately to answer.
He then asks us to look at our own personal actions and how we measure up to in our lives.
- Are you and I helping our children become agents who act and seek learning by study and by faith, or have we trained our children to wait to be taught and acted upon? Are we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to act, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable? Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking? (See 3 Nephi 14:7.)
Promise and Testimony
Elder Bednar ends his talk with his testimony and a promise to those that implement these three steps into their lives.
- The spiritual discernment and inspiration you will receive from the combination of these three holy habits will enable you to stand as watchmen on the tower for your families—”watching … with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18)—to the blessing of your immediate family and your future posterity.
We would be wise to teach our children these three simple items. I have come to recognize in my own life that sharing my love for the Savior is a spontaneous act that I have very little reservation of doing with whoever I am with. When I have friends describe heartache and tragedy in their lives, I respond with the fact that we have a loving Heavenly Father and that so many of their problems in life and be understood through gaining some religious perspective in their lives. When my children speak to me about their struggles, feelings of self-worth, etc. I share with them that they have a loving Father in Heaven and that this knowledge has been taught to them for all their life. Now in the time that they pull that knowledge from deep in their hearts to the surface and rely on it to find peace and comfort in their trials. How blessed we are to have the Holy Ghost, the Book of Mormon, and loving parents to help guide our paths in life. Taking these suggestions into our lives will change our personal lives as well as help those around us to find peace in the Savior's atonement.