Family councils are necessary today to help the family unit achieve individual and family goals, combat the evil influences in the world, and understand accountability to one another and to God. In many ways, these councils are how God accomplishes His work on Earth.
According to the Church pamphlet Our Family: A Practical Guide for Building a Gospel-Centered Home, “The family council is the most basic council of the Church. Under the direction of the father and the mother, this council can meet to discuss family problems, work out finances, make plans, support and strengthen family members and pray for one another and for the family unit.”
Here are some key ways to having a successful family council:
1. Decide as a family to hold a family council.
A family council is led by the parents, with all children having the opportunity to participate fully in the discussion and decision-making process. The focus should be to encourage all family members to full conversion to the gospel.
“Most importantly, this council should set goals that will help each member to achieve exaltation,” Our Family explains. “An atmosphere of listening, honest communication, and respect for the opinions and feelings of others is vital to the success of these meetings.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard, in his April 2016 conference talk, “Family Councils,” spoke earnestly on the subject of family councils and their importance to the heavenly plan:
“Family councils have always been needed. They are, in fact, eternal. We belonged to a family council in the premortal existence when we lived with our heavenly parents as their spirit children.”
Elder Ballard explained that one purpose in holding a family council is to “learn to understand, and love one another.”
2. Remember that family council can be adapted to your family's circumstances.
While this is the way to hold a council as a family, the ideal nuclear family is not always part of real life.
“Not every family council consists of two parents and children. Everyone can adapt a family council to take advantage of this divine pattern established by our loving Heavenly Father,” Elder Ballard said.
In his conference talk, Elder Ballard outlines four types of family councils: full family council, executive family council, limited family council, and one-on-one family council.
Each of these councils described by Elder Ballard direct how to approach needs in the family. For example, the executive family council offers time for a husband and wife to discuss their personal relationship as well as concerns they have for the growth of each child, while the limited family council provides an opportunity for the parent(s) to meet with one child and cultivate their individual goals.
An important part of holding a council such as this is opening kind, constructive communication within the family.
3. Use family council time to teach as well as talk.
Holding councils as a family allow time for parents and children alike to be a support and an example to one another of righteousness and preparation.
President Thomas S. Monson has taught that we need to, “Help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life” (“Learn of Me,” Ensign, March 2016).
What can one do to support their family in the gospel when the world constantly bombards with incorrect information? How might someone utilize this divine pattern of councils in their own family?
“[T]here is much we can do. We can take advantage of the teaching moments in our own families—that means now. Don’t let them slip by,” said Elder Robert D. Hales in October 2016 general conference. “When an opportunity comes to share your thoughts about the gospel and the lessons of life, stop everything, sit down, and talk with your children and grandchildren.”
4. Remember that the Spirit will lead you if you let him.
Strive to keep the commandments, pray, study the scriptures, worthily partake of the sacrament and worship in the temple. Strive to do all the things necessary to invite the Spirit and have faith that the guidance will come at the right time.
"The Spirit will lead you along. I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children," Elder Hales continued. "Let us remember, the most important work we do in our families is through the power of the Holy Ghost."
Lead image from Getty Images
For an easy way to start having family councils in your own family, check out Our Family Council Journal, an easy-to-follow workbook based off of the inspired direction from Elder Ballard and designed to aid families in implementing these councils. Our Family Council Journal includes excerpts from Elder Ballard’s talk on family councils and is available at Deseret Book stores and on deseretbook.com.