- What can we do to better prepare our children spiritually for their eternal roles? Perhaps the most inclusive answer is: Teach them how to live the principles of the gospel. To be good teachers, we must learn to be better listeners.
- Let me share one personal example: Our first child, Clark, when he was four years old, appeared to be guilty of some minor wrongdoing that at the time seemed to require some sound fatherly counsel. I took him into the bedroom and talked to him about why he must not ever again do what I had predetermined that he had done. When I concluded my great discourse, this little, brown-eyed boy looked into my eyes and said, “But Daddy, I didn’t do it.” Through his eyes his spirit talked to me and I knew that he was telling me the truth. I embraced him and asked for his forgiveness. His spirit, though in a four-year-old mortal body, spoke loudly to me that day, and I learned from him a great lesson: Always be a good listener.
- Oh how important it is for parents to understand the eternal plan of our Heavenly Father, as he sends his spirit children here and entrusts them to us for a few short years. Just think of it! Within every human body dwells a living spirit born to our loving, eternal heavenly parents. When parents know this, they can better guide their families by focusing upon the eternal relationships and the true purposes of this life. No thinking parent would ever allow any verbal or physical abuse of their children to creep into their home and destroy the destiny of their eternal family.
He talks about the partnership that we are in with God to raise His spirit children.
- I stand in awe when I consider the great confidence Heavenly Father has placed in you and me when he allows us the privilege of being the mortal fathers and mothers to his eternal spirit offspring. We must never forget that he has a vested interest in every one of us, and we must realize how important each human soul is in God’s eternal plan. When we understand the importance of each soul, we can go before him confidently in prayer to seek his guidance and direction in our sacred assignment as parents.
Elder Ballard shares some of his observations about children who have been given all the luxuries of life but have not been taught spiritually. We need to be engaged in building spiritual muscles in our children, more than worrying about their physical concerns.
- I have noticed that some children living in too much luxury can lose their sense of spiritual values and misplace their eternal priorities. I believe that we must pause and take a careful inventory to determine how well our families are doing spiritually. We could ask how well are we feeding, nurturing, training, and exercising the spirits of our children; or how well have we taught, trained, loved, and inspired our children to build their spiritual muscles and strength? We are given many teaching moments, and the Church has given us the special family home evening to help us accomplish this purpose. Remember, eternity is now, not a vague, distant future. We prepare each day, right now, for eternal life. If we are not preparing for eternal life, we are preparing for something else, perhaps something far less.
He talks about how our souls seem to become more capable the older we get which is the opposite of how our physical bodies function.
- If the spirit of man is properly cared for, rather than becoming slower to move and less capable, as the body does, the spirit becomes more confident and waxes strong in the presence of God.
Careful planning is needed from parents on how to help our children spiritually. Spiritual development is more important and harder to provide than the physical needs of our children.
- We must carefully and conscientiously provide solid spiritual training for the eternal growth of our children. Thoughtful planning will be required because providing spiritual development for them is not quite as simple as meeting their physical needs.
Elder Ballard concludes with a great comment about how great the plan of our Heavenly Father is.
- It is beautiful to know that if we can build upon a solid spiritual foundation—if we can repent of our sins and grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding—we can enjoy dwelling in the presence of our Heavenly Father and his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, forever and ever. This is eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.
This talk comes to me at a great moment in my life where I am ready to hear this message. I have been struggling, trying to determine what I can do to be a better father, what I can do to help my children become better prepared for the trials in their future. I have noticed as Elder Ballard has, that the physical care of my children is great but I have obligations to prepare them spiritually for what lies ahead of them in life and eternity. I have come away from reading this talk with some inspiration on how I can help each of my kids develop with an eternal focus and not necessarily physically. I have come to learn that the importance messages of these talks come from the spirit and not necessarily what is written on the page. For that, I am so grateful.