As faithful parents, we want to instill in our children principles that will guide them to reach their potential and find eternal happiness. We want them to have strong convictions of truth and be prepared to handle life. Yet to effectively teach all of that, we have to be that image as well.
Our children learn the most by watching their parents. The younger they are, the more cues they take from us. Do we want them to emulate us—behave like us, act and think like us? We all need some refining. We can look to great leaders, such as Joseph Smith, to give us inspiration. We can use his example to improve ourselves and teach our children. Here are three major characteristics Joseph Smith emulated daily that we can also strive to emulate for our children:
1. He viewed his tribulations as opportunities.
Whether we like it or not, adversity is part of life. We face problems, large and small, throughout our lives. Regardless of how spiritual we are, we have room to grow, and learning to deal with adversity is what builds character and resilience, teaching us to love others more deeply. Choosing to not react to adversity is the reason Joseph Smith was so great and effective. He did not sulk, complain, or refuse to put up with pain, frustration, or stress. He chose to accept everything as an opportunity and to use it for God’s purposes. Joseph Smith demonstrated this especially when his adversaries pulled him from his bed and tarred him. Despite the pain for himself and family during this scary time, he attended and conducted church the following morning, where a few of those adversaries were in attendance. He was able to teach them a valuable lesson that forever influenced them.
Most of us will never have to encounter such extreme trials; our challenge is to face our own unique problems in our busy lives and to react well. We can choose to see our frustrating life situations as bad luck, or we can use them as an opportunity to learn and prepare for the celestial kingdom. As we begin to see life as a learning experience, we can use each frustration as an opportunity to reach our own potential and be an example for our loved ones. We can take time to explain this concept to our children so they can also find ways to view challenges as opportunities.
2. He loved all people, not just the ones who were kind to him.
Loving others regardless of their life choices is a sign of having a deep love of our Heavenly Father. This approach takes deep character and is taught by example. We do not have control over how other people think, feel, or treat us. What we do have control over is our reaction and our viewpoint. The way people choose to live is a reflection of their character or understanding of life. It is not a reflection of their value. The prophet chose to rise with love amidst the hate, anger, and conflict he was faced with because he trusted the Lord. He did not hold resentment for any who came to church, but he welcomed them with Christlike love.
At first, staying in this place of love and belief requires great strength. But when used, often becomes a natural part of us.
Instilling in our children their infinite worth, which is not determined by their actions or social standing, will give them a foundation to treat others the same way. We just need to show them the fine line between love and fear , which will determine being ready for the celestial kingdom and the gift of salvation.
3. He loved learning.
I think Joseph’s biggest accomplishment was not a formal education but a heavenly education. However, while he did study works of men, he stated to his family that he loved being taught by the angels.
Joseph Smith told us, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandment of God.” But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them. He also emphasized the importance of listening with the intent of being obedient.
As parents, we do not need to stop learning just because we are not in a formal school setting. Now is the time when we are free to learn whatever we desire. If we want to eat better, we can learn about health. If we want to parent better, we can read a book on parenting. If we want to learn anything in this life we can do that. Again, it is a choice. Let our children see us learning and using that education to better our lives, like they are. Let them see us make a mistake, show a repentant heart and learn, and then make it better.
There are many valuable lessons we and our children can learn from the life of Joseph Smith. As John Taylor stated in D&C 135:3:
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fullness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!”
Lead image from Getty Images.
Find more from Master Life Coach, Kristena Eden in her book, Prophet Joseph’s 1-2-3s, available at deseretbook.com, or at her websites, corelivingessentials.com or thewritebook.com. To get a free page of ideas for teaching children emailed to you, click here.