- For all of us, doing our duty to God as parents and leaders begins with leading by example—consistently and diligently living gospel principles at home. This takes daily determination and diligence.
- For youth, there is no substitute for seeing the gospel lived in our daily lives. The stripling warriors did not have to wonder what their parents believed. They said, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” Do our children know what we know?
In addition to showing by example, we teach our youth by living the gospel along side them.
- Besides showing youth the way by example, we lead them by understanding their hearts and walking alongside them on the gospel path. To truly understand their hearts, we must do more than just be in the same room or attend the same family and Church activities. We must plan and take advantage of teaching moments that make a deep and lasting impression upon their minds and hearts.
One thing he encourages us to do is to look for great teaching moments in our everyday activities. A great time is when we are alone with our children. We should use these times to engage in conversation, listen with our hearts, and try to understand their hopes and dreams for the future.
- As you drive or walk children to school or their various activities, do you use the time to talk with them about their hopes and dreams and fears and joys? Do you take the time to have them take the earplugs from their MP3 players and all the other devices so that they can hear you and feel of your love? The more I live, the more I recognize that the teaching moments in my youth, especially those provided by my parents, have shaped my life and made me who I am.
- It is impossible to overestimate the influence of parents who understand the hearts of their children. Research shows that during the most important transitions of life—including those periods when youth are most likely to drift away from the Church—the greatest influence does not come from an interview with the bishop or some other leader but from the regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction with parents.
- For our interactions with youth to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen—yes, listen and listen some more—even hearken with spiritual ears!
We sometimes say that to reach our children we have to "be there." Elder Hales explains what this means to him.
- Being there means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too.
Elder Hales speaks of the importance of the Personal Progress and Duty to God programs. The ultimate goal is to walk alongside our youth and encourage there continued spiritual growth. This means helping them make and keep sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father.
- Adult members of the Church should understand that Personal Progress and Duty to God requirements are not just lengthy lists of items to check off. They are personal goals set by each young man and young woman to help them become worthy to receive temple ordinances, serve missions, enter into eternal marriage, and enjoy exaltation. But let it be understood: for young men and young women to try to accomplish these goals alone would be a great loss and tragedy!
- Fathers, mothers, and leaders of youth, we urge you to participate in Personal Progress and Duty to God with your children and with the youth. Not only will they grow; you will grow too. And just as importantly, you will grow together in a bond of faith and friendship that will allow you to strengthen each other and stay on the gospel path forever, to indeed be an eternal family.
Youth have to find their own testimonies. It is our obligation to help them directly learn from the Spirit of the truthfulness of the gospel.
- It is our imperative duty to help youth understand and believe the gospel in a deeply personal way. We can teach them to walk in the light, but that light cannot be borrowed. They must earn it for themselves. They must obtain their own light of testimony directly from the source of spiritual light—God Himself—through prayer and study and pondering. They must understand who they are and who Heavenly Father wants them to become. How do we help them?
- When we have a family home evening, a family council, or a meaningful gospel conversation with our children, we have the opportunity to look into their eyes and tell them that we love them and that Heavenly Father loves them. In these sacred settings, we can also help them understand, deep in their hearts, who they are and how fortunate they are to have come to this earth and to our home and to participate in the covenants we have taken in the temple to be a family forever. In every interaction we share, we demonstrate the principles and blessings of the gospel.
He reminds us that participation in sacred ordinances and activities will help our youth resist the temptations of the world.
- Wholehearted participation in ordinances, quorums and auxiliaries, inspired programs, and fortifying activities helps youth put on the whole armor of God.
Elder Hales concludes by sharing several thoughts about our daily duty within our homes. We have lots of programs in the church to help bring people to Christ. But these programs are vital to be lived within our individual homes.
- The greatest missionary work we will ever do will be in our homes. Our homes, quorums, and classes are part of the mission field. Our children and grandchildren are our most important investigators.
- The greatest family history work that we will do will be within our own homes. It is the spiritual preparation of our children in the rising generation that will, through their obedience, ensure the eternal preservation and perpetuation of our families for the coming generations.
- The greatest rescue, the greatest activation will be in our homes. If someone in your family is wandering in strange paths, you are a rescuer, engaged in the greatest rescue effort the Church has ever known. I testify from personal experience: There is no failure except in giving up. It is never too early or too late to begin. Do not worry about what has happened in the past. Pick up the phone. Write a note. Make a visit. Extend the invitation to come home. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed. Your child is Heavenly Father’s child. You are about His work. He has promised to gather His children, and He is with you.
- The greatest faith we have will be within our homes as we remain strong in the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
- The greatest love and the greatest teachings should be in our homes.
I had a spiritual impression several months ago and I haven't acted on it. This talk brought back that spiritual impression to my mind. I have a daughter that is struggling with several things in her life. I was given the impression that as her father, I need to be more involved in her spiritual growth. I was encouraged to participate in Personal Progress with her. Today, I am committing to working on the Personal Progress program with my daughter. I will complete her activities with her and work on activities of my own. This will be great preparation for me to get ready to do Duty to God with my son when he turns 12 in a little over a year. These are great programs that the church has created to help our youth grow spiritually. I am sure it can help an old guy like me find some spiritual blessings as well. Please consider if your relationship with your children could be boosted with a similar commitment.