I was talking with a friend about how the scriptures are the best parenting guide – who better to pattern our lives (as parents) after than Heavenly Father, a perfect parent…right?
In Mosiah 26:15-32, we have a great example of how to be a good parent. In this scripture block, Heavenly Father sets a pattern we can follow when we find times where we need to comfort, advise, and/or teach our children.
Many in the rising generation do not believe in the church. They are going around trying to convince others to leave – with flattering words and messages. Because of this deception, there is growing wickedness in the church. Alma, the elder, who is the High Priest of the Church, isn’t exactly sure to handle the situation. So – he went to the Lord concerning the manner. The Lord responds.
The Lord’s response follows a simple pattern.
- The Lord comforts and reassures Alma.
- This is a great example to parents. First of all, Heavenly Father recognizes the good that Alma is doing. Obviously, Alma is feeling worried and – probably – less than capable. Heavenly Father takes this moment to kindly remind him of his many strengths. He recognizes the hard work that Alma has done up to this point.
- Heavenly Father takes a second to remind Alma also how good the others are – that have committed to keeping their covenants.
- Finally Heavenly Father commends Alma for seeking instruction.
- As parents, when our children come to us with a problem, or when they need some kind of instruction, as Alma did, we can learn from Heavenly Father. We can begin our instruction with sincere compliments. We can recognize the achievements of our children. We can assure them that we are proud of them and recognize the good that they are doing.
It seems, to me, that taking the time to genuinely offer love and support – before handing out advice will help to ensure that both the hearts of parent and child are soft.
- The Lord Covenants with Alma
- After reassuring Alma, The Lord covenants with Alma. I feel like this covenant was already made (when Alma was baptized), but the covenant is reiterated. It is renewed, in a way. Alma is reminded that as he serves the Lord by gathering his sheep, then Alma will receive eternal life.
- The Lord also covenants that those who listen to his words will also receive eternal life.
- This covenant is especially relevent to the problem that Alma is facing.
- As a parent – well, we can’t really offer this type of covenant, but I think we still learn from this step in the pattern. We just need to modify it a little bit.
We can remind our children that they have made covenants and will receive blessings for keeping the commandments.
Just as the covenant made between God and Alma is specific to the situation Alma was in, as parents, we can take this time to remind our children of the connection of certain promises we have made with their associated blessings.
- For example, if a child is having a question about modesty, we can take this moment to emphasize the blessing associated with being modest. This can be a good time for us to bear testimony of the blessings we have received for following such counsel.
- No matter how we modify this step (the Spirit will instruct us on what to do), I feel like it is important. Often, the reminder of our covenants is a good motivation to want to keep them.
- The Lord Teaches General Principles and Doctrine.
- The Lord now takes a moment to do some basic gospel teaching. This step is essential as it will form the basis for his very specified instruction to Alma (that comes later).
- Notice how the Lord doesn’t say too little. He also doesn’t say too much.
- As parents, we can make sure that when we give our children instruction, we frame it in the context of Gospel truths. I feel like it is easier to understand and accept specific instructions when we see how they fit in to a larger picture.
In fact, with such instruction, I think that our children will start to come to the conclusions of what they need to do, specifically, before we even mention the actual directive.
- The thing we need to watch: being too brief or too wordy. We need to follow the spirit to know when we’ve said the right amount.
- The Lord gives direct instruction and revelation to Alma.
- Heavenly Father finally, after comforting, covenanting, and teaching Alma, gives him direct revelation – a solution to Alma’s problem.
- Once we have given our children comfort, a reminder of their covenants (or a reminder of the blessings associated with various commandments), and general teaching – we can give them the advice that they have desired.
“15 Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.
16 And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them.
17 And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people.
18 Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.
19 And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed.” – Mosiah 26:15 – 19
“20 Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep.
21 And he that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive.” – Mosiah 26:20 – 21
“22 For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.
23 For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.
24 For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.
25 And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me.
26 And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed.
27 And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” – Mosiah 26:22-27
“28 Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.
29 Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.
30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.
31 And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation.
32 Now I say unto you, Go; and whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people; and this shall be observed from this time forward.” – Mosiah 26:28-32
I love this pattern because it makes sense. Of course I want my children to learn. I want them to feel like they can come to me for advice. I might even be able to help them. If we, as parents, really want to help our children (and I suppose we could also apply this to our friends who look for advice, those whom we serve, anyone), then we can follow the pattern the Lord has set.
He doesn’t instantly tell Alma what to do. Imagine that scenario – it may have helped Alma in his problem, but it wouldn’t have taught a lasting lesson.
We can be more effective in teaching our children as we implement this simple pattern. I’m grateful for the scriptures – the best parenting handbook EVER!