During COVID-19 restrictions, many young people have missed attending the temple, participating in FSY, and gathering with their entire wards at the same time. Another opportunity that some have missed is receiving their patriarchal blessings. The good news is that there are no restrictions on preparing for patriarchal blessings and helping others prepare. Here are three ideas that can help.
1. Patriarchal Blessings Are Not About What We Already Know
I received my blessing as a young teenager and—to be honest—was disappointed because it was shorter than the blessings of other family members. I figured somehow that meant I was not as important to God. I had hoped my blessing would say I was talented and a leader. It did not say any of that—at least not in the way I expected.
One day when I was in high school, some peers and I gathered at a friend’s house to plan an upcoming activity. Somehow, the topic of patriarchal blessings came up and I shared my disappointment that mine is so short. I said, “It doesn’t say anything about talents or leadership or . . .” Right then, from around the corner came my friend’s father. Right in front of the group, he said, “Brad, your patriarchal blessing is not so God can tell you what you already know. It is the chance for Him to tell you what He needs you to know.”
When I got home, I reread my blessing through the new lens I had been given and my feelings changed. Suddenly, I loved my blessing—not just because it validated and reaffirmed what I hoped was the case—but also because it taught me something new. I had only read it thinking of what was important to me at the time. Now, I saw what was important to God and what needed to become more important to me. My blessing helped me start discerning my missions in life—a learning process that has continued to this day.
2. Linage Is Not Just About the Past
When a patriarch puts his hands on your head and declares your lineage, he identifies the tribe through which you will receive your blessings and bless others. In your patriarchal blessing, you are told your connection with Israel and his sons and daughters. Of course, over the centuries the bloodlines have been mixed until we all have within us a combination of many bloodlines. This is why President Dallin H. Oaks has taught, “A declaration of lineage is not a scientific pronouncement or an identification of genetic inheritance.” i Patriarchs identify lineage “by the promptings of the Holy Ghost . . . regardless of the race or nationality of the person receiving the blessing.”ii People within the same family—even identical twins—can be named from different tribes because your patriarchal blessing is not a physical DNA test. Instead, it “reminds you,” as President Russell M. Nelson explained, “of your linkage with the past. And it will help you realize your future potential.”iii Being born in this family means you have been given temporal and spiritual blessings with the hope and expectation that you will use them to help all God’s children.
Currently, all the tribes are working together to prepare for the Second Coming. However, when Jesus comes to rule and reign, your tribe will matter a great deal. At that point, each tribe will be given specific responsibilities and assignments. President Dallin H. Oaks said your declaration of lineage is important as it “concerns the government of the kingdom of God.”iv Knowing our tribes now gives the Lord an additional level of worldwide organization He can call into action when the time comes.
When Christ comes again, billions of people will immediately want to learn about Him and His Church. However, if we wait until that moment to get organized, it will be too late. We need to have strong and experienced leaders already in place throughout the world not only to handle the dramatic growth of the Church but also the additional temporal responsibilities that will be ours when “the government shall be upon [Christ’s] shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). Every tribe is important. Elder LeGrand Richards said, “Promises of the Lord unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will not be realized through any one branch of the house of Israel, but through all of them.” v Your lineage means you were sent to earth with an important part to play in this great work.
3. Patriarchal Blessings Are Not Just About Mortality
One young man was concerned because his brother received his patriarchal blessing and then died in a tragic car accident. He asked his father, “Why did God promise he would serve a mission and marry just before he died?” With great faith, his father testified, “He is still alive. God has an eternal perspective, and your brother will still have those opportunities.” Indeed, according to our faith and righteous desires, the promised blessings can be fulfilled “in this life and in eternity” (Church Handbook, 18.17.2 “Receiving a Patriarchal Blessing”).
We read in Alma 34:32 that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” However, we sometimes forget that the spirit world is a continuation of the probationary period that is this life. vi President Oaks taught, “Our progress need not conclude with the end of mortality.”vii As you strive to keep an eternal perspective, you can trust that no blessing will be out of the reach of any who put their trust in God and Christ.
Your patriarchal blessing is but a prelude to receive even greater blessings from your Father. Paul wrote, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). All that the Father has is hard to imagine, but your patriarchal blessing isn’t just about what you will get. It is about what you can become through the grace of God and Christ. God is not just preparing a mansion in heaven for you (see John 14:2), but He is also preparing you for the mansion. Not only can you live with your Heavenly Parents, but you can live like Them—create like Them, love and serve like Them, and parent like Them. There is no greater happiness and joy (see Abraham 1:2), no greater gift (see Doctrine & Covenants 6:13), and no greater blessing.
i “Patriarchal Blessings,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Patriarch (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, January 8, 2005), 8.
ii Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n. d.), as quoted by Daniel H. Ludlow, Selected Writings of Daniel H. Ludlow (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 528.
iii Russell M. Nelson, “Thanks for the Covenant,” (Brigham Young University devotional, November 22, 1988), 5, speeches.byu.edu.
iv “Patriarchal Blessings,” 8.
v Israel! Do You Know? (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 8.
vi See Mark A. Mathews, “‘Between the Time of Death and the Resurrection’: A Doctrinal Examination of the Spirit World,” Religious Educator, vol. 21, no. 1, 2020, 105-131.
vii “The Great Plan,” Ensign, May 2020, 95.
Your Patriarchal Blessing by Brad Wilcox is available now at Deseret Book.