What Church leaders have actually said about fatherhood

Thomas S. Monson


President Monson and son Clark fishing. Photo from President Monson's biography, To The Rescue.

Though President Monson often stayed late at the office, he was a dad when he was home. He mowed the lawn with the help of the boys. He planted a vegetable garden and enlisted the children to pull weeds; he took them bowling and to the movies, swimming at the Deseret Gym, sleigh riding in winter, and to the Pioneer Day parade in the summer. For the parade, they set up chairs in front of his father's printing enterprise on Main Street and cheered for President Monson's brother Bob when he rode by on his horse, positioned on the front row of the Ute Rangers and carrying the organization's flag. Often, President Monson took the boys fishinhg and duck hunting, two of their favorite passtimes. 

His son Clark's fondest memories as a child are of the big breakfasts at Vivian Park with all the family, evening campfires roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, and the family chat. "Often it would be my dad leading the conversations, steering the conversations," Clark recalls. "If my dad and [his sister] Marjorie were together, they really loved to talk, and it was always fun for me to be around them."

• • •


Read more about President Monson's family, faith, and journey in his official biography, To The Rescue

More about the book:

To the Rescue chronicles the life and ministry of this extraordinary leader. It is filled with the heartwarming personal accounts so typical of President Monson — some that have become favorites over time and many others that have not been told before. Readers will be transported to his childhood, where he learned his first lessons about reaching out to others. They will glimpse his school experiences, his hobbies (especially his prize Birmingham roller pigeons), his military service in the navy, and his courtship with Frances Johnson, who would become his eternal companion and greatest support.

Most important, readers will observe Thomas S. Monson going “to the rescue” in his more than six decades of devoted Church service.

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Henry B. Eyring


President Eyring with his son Henry. Photo from I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Eyring.

“Almost everything that I’ve been able to accomplish as a priesthood bearer is because individuals who knew me saw things in me that I couldn’t see. As a young father, I prayed to know what contributions my children might make in the Lord’s kingdom. For the boys, I knew they could have priesthood opportunities. For the girls, I knew they would give service representing the Lord. All would be doing His work. I knew each was an individual, and therefore the Lord would have given them specific gifts for each to use in His service.

Now, I cannot tell every father and every leader of youth the details of what is best for you to do. But I can promise you that you will bless them to help them recognize the spiritual gifts with which they were born. Every person is different and has a different contribution to make. No one is destined to fail. As you seek revelation to see gifts God sees in those you lead in the priesthood--particularly the young--you will be blessed to lift their sights to the service they can perform. With your guidance, those you lead will be able to see, want, and believe they can achieve their full potential for service in God’s kingdom.

With my own children, I prayed for revelation to know how I could help each of them individually prepare for specific opportunities to serve God. And then I tried to help them visualize, hope, and work for this future.”

• • •


Read more about President Eyring's family, faith, and journey in I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Eyring.

More about the book:

In 1970, Henry B. Eyring received an impression to make a daily record of his activities. Years of journals form the backbone of this personal biography, a candid look at his walk through life with his beloved companion, Kathy. "The journal shows how a good-but-imperfect man works each day to win divine approval," write the authors, and this window into his past provides unforgettable insights about the man the Lord has shaped him to become.

Readers will love these richly designed pages, filled with photographs, sketches from the pen of President Eyring himself, and scores of entries straight from his journals woven into an engaging depiction of his life's journey.

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Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Uchtdorf family photo. Photo from

In the words of his children, from "Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: On to New Horizons":

“Although our father was extremely busy, we knew we were his highest priority,” Antje continues. “When he was home, he was totally devoted to Mom and to us. Of course, everything is exciting to Mom, and Dad makes things exciting. He made everything an adventure—even going to the grocery store. They took us on some of the most exciting family vacations a child could imagine. So as children we were pretty much in a state of excitement one way or the other all the time!”  

For all that excitement (the children and their mother thought that their amateur photographer father and husband always got much too close to the lions in Africa), Antje particularly remembers the quiet times with her father. “Whether it was during his favorite pastime of looking up at the stars, or sledding together in the winter, or just sitting on the porch, my father was always teaching,” she says. “He loves the gospel, and he was always helping us to love it.”    

“I don’t remember any sermons,” says Guido. “I just remember him always being interested in me. We had ‘visits,’ which were often walks in the evening and, on more special occasions, hikes in the mountains. I loved those times to talk. And in all such situations he taught by example. I used to travel to distant wards or branches with him when he was stake president, and I was his home teaching companion when I held the Aaronic Priesthood. That is how I learned about the priesthood and other responsibilities I would face—firsthand, shoulder to shoulder, father to son.”

Boyd K. Packer


Packer family photo at the time of his call as a General Authority. Photo from

Elder and Sister Packer’s philosophy of family life and child rearing had served them well during the years the children had lived at home. As their children chose companions, the Packers encouraged each couple to establish its own pattern of family life and tradition without interference from them. Meanwhile the Packers’ own lives followed the same consistent pattern as before. Elder Packer presided with patience and kindliness; they counseled together; and Sister Packer was his constant strength and support while pursuing her own work at home and in family history and research.

Son-in-law David Kezerian observes: “I did not appreciate the value of true patriarchal order within a home until I saw it practiced by Dad and Mother Packer. It is straight-line, based upon living the gospel and keeping the commandments. The evidence of its practicality is there as it is lived day by day. As with my own parents, the Packers are an example upon which we are trying to pattern our lives. There is no yielding on principle, yet there is no compulsion. The children and the grandchildren know without reservation that Dad and Mom love them. This creates a natural flow of cooperation that extends beyond their own children to include those of us who have come into the family through marriage.”

Continuing, David says: “Dad Packer has a deep desire to let his children work out their own salvation, yet if we ask for counsel he will drop whatever he is doing to listen and to respond. And his calm manner is most reassuring.”

• • •


Read more about President Packer's family, faith, and journey in A Watchman on the Tower.

More about the book:

This absorbing biography not only tells the story of how a dedicated disciple was prepared for his calling, but also, perhaps more than any other biography, teaches the gospel. This book is unique because its unhurried preparation — a six-year process — allowed the author to explore who Elder Packer really is: a very private man, a man of humor, simple tastes, and complex dimensions.

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L. Tom Perry


New parent L. Tom Perry. Photo from Elder Perry's biography, An Uncommon Life.

Elder Perry described his family's 1952 Christmas in a letter he wrote to his father on January 11, 1953:

"We hada very enjoyable Christmas this year. The kids are becoming more fun each year. I got out of bed, first, Christmas morning and situated myself behind the tree in order to catch the first appearance of the children as they came from the bedroom. I sent Virginia in to send them out together. The plan didn't work the best. Lee had an idea that something was up, and as soon as Virginia set him on the floor he raced for the living room. The first thing that came into his reach was Barbara's doll. He picked it up and ran into the bedroom, gave it to Barbara and was back at the tree before Barbara and her mother made an appearance. I don't beliee that I managed to get both of them in the same picture all morning."

Some family traditions did not work out as well as others. For examples, Tom, following the example of his father, decided to purchase part interest in a dairy cow with a neighbor. When Lee was three, Elder Perry tried to teach him how to milk the cow. Lee caught on quickly to the hand action of a fine milker, but his aim was not very good. Whenever Lee was left alone to milk the cow, the bucket did not get very full, and there was usually a large white puddle of milk around it. Lee, of course, was just as proud of the big white puddle he'd created as he was of the milk in the bucket.

Elder Perry also tried to turn Lee into a gardener. He assumed three-year-old Lee had a height advantage for pulling weeds. Unfortunately, Lee was more interested in pulling young garden plants than weeds. Instead of a neat row of carrots, the result of Lee's weeding was a neat row of weeds. The carrot plants, after all, had more interesting orange roots. 

• • •

Read more about Elder Perry's family, faith, and journey in An Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation.

More about the book:

Elder L. Tom Perry, a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is fond of describing himself as being "as common as dirt."

Yet his life is uncommon by any standard. After spending most of his early years in his hometown of Logan, Utah, and additional years on a mission and in the military, young Tom Perry launched a twenty-year professional career that took him from his first job as an internal auditor in Boise, Idaho, to executive positions in retailing on the west and east coasts of the United States. Soon after his fiftieth birthday, he was surprised to be called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. Not long afterward, President Spencer W. Kimball extended to Elder Perry the call to join the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Perry has now served for forty years as a General Authority.

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Russell M. Nelson


Nelson family laughing together. Photo from

One evening, Russell came home from work to find Dantzel weary from the day’s activities, so he offered to help get the children ready for bed. He also had had a rather demanding day, so, hearkening back to his days in the military, he began to give orders: “Take your clothes off and hang them up. Brush your teeth. Put on your pajamas. Say your prayers”--all befitting the demeanor of a drill sergeant. 

Marjorie interrupted her father’s commands by asking, “Daddy, do you own me?” Her wistful eyes and poignant question caused Russell to realize that he was exercising unrighteous dominion rather than following the Savior’s example of leading with love. This penitent father gained an important insight: “We don’t own our children; we have them for a short season. As parents, we have the privilege to love them, to lead them, and then to let them go.” Marjorie recently remarked, “My parents are pretty much perfect models in my life. Most importantly, I never doubted that I was loved.”

[. . .]

In anticipation of Father’s Day in June 1969, a reporter interviewed the Nelson children for an article titled “Dad Is an Extra-Special Person.” The collective summary assessment of their dad was, “He takes time to do things with us...he has a good sense of humor...he’s so nice and kind...he’s lots of fun to be with...he really understands…he listens.’ The interviewer concluded, ‘And what finer compliments could any father receive!” 

• • •


Read more about Elder Nelson's family, faith, and journey in Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle.

More about the book:

As a latter-day apostle, Elder Russell M. Nelson is known worldwide for his tireless service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many people, however, are not familiar with his pioneering work in the field of open-heart surgery, the life-prolonging operation he performed on President Spencer W. Kimball, his role in helping open Eastern Bloc countries to the preaching of the gospel, and his loving efforts to build relations with the people of China.

In Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle, readers are treated to an intimate portrayal that will help us come to know Elder Nelson as a man of testimony, a dedicated husband and father of ten, and a servant whose principal desire since his youth has been to serve God's children.

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Dallin H. Oaks


Oaks family photo. Photo from

During my first five years as a Brigham Young University president I was one of about five leaders who had weekly coordination meetings with Neal A. Maxwell, then commissioner of the Church Educational System. One day, he began our meeting by asking, "What would you like to be remembered for after you are released from your present positions?" He asked each of us to write our answer on a piece of paper and consider it privately. 

Pondering this inspired question taught me an important lesson. I applied it not only to my employment but also to my position as a father. I asked myself, "When your children are grown up and leave home, or when you die, what do you want them to remember about you as a father?" This question caused me ot see that I was in danger of being remembered for always being critical and nagging about trivial behaviors that irritated me, such as the practice of a teenage daughter who continually scattered her clothes and other possessions all around the house. I wanted to be remembered for fatherly communications of praise and love and other matters of eternal importance. Those are the communications whose memories have persuasive power. 

• • •


Read more about Elder Oaks's family, faith, and journey in Life's Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections.

More about the book:

“I have learned things that have shaped my life and teachings, including some things of the heart not previously shared,” writes Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the introduction to this unique book. “This is an autobiography of learning and application rather than a compendium of doctrine.”

Masterfully blending personal experiences with the doctrines of the gospel, Elder Oaks invites us to join him on a journey through some of the turning points in his life and the lessons he has learned through a lifetime of devotion to the Savior.

Elder Oaks also relates the very personal lessons he learned from the death of his wife, June, and from his subsequent marriage to Kristen McMain.

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M. Russell Ballard


Ballard family home evening game. Photo from

In the words of his daughters Holly and Tammy, from "Elder M. Russell Ballard: True to the Faith":

“He has always been understanding,” says his daughter Holly. “The day I got my driver’s license, he let me borrow his beautiful Buick Electra. I was returning a sweater to the store for him. When I parked the car, I scraped its side.

“I was shaking when I called my dad, afraid that he’d be upset. He just laughed and told me it was only a car and no big deal. He was so understanding. He always seemed to know when we needed an arm around us.”

His daughter Tammy had a similar experience. “When I was in second grade, he was always bringing home a different used car, because of the business. One Sunday he had a yellow Cadillac with a white roof, and my friends and I jumped in the car to get a ride home from dad. We started jumping around in the car and a friend kicked the gear shift into neutral. The car rolled back and hit another car. My friends fled, and I panicked.

“I ran and told mom, and we went home. When we pulled up the garage door, the yellow Cadillac was there. My friends and I had jumped into another man’s car and wrecked it. I thought dad would be upset. But when he got home, he scooped me up in his arms and told me he was proud of me for telling the truth, then he took care of it and never mentioned it again. I really learned a lot from my father.”

Richard G. Scott

Elder Scott with a granddaughter. Photo from

A memory from young fatherhood, from "The Eternal Blessings of Marriage":

Once I learned an important lesson from my wife. I traveled extensively in my profession. I had been gone almost two weeks and returned home one Saturday morning. I had four hours before I needed to attend another meeting. I noticed that our little washing machine had broken down and my wife was washing the clothes by hand. I began to fix the machine.

Jeanene came by and said, “Rich, what are you doing?”

I said, “I’m repairing the washing machine so you don’t have to do this by hand.”

She said, “No. Go play with the children.”

I said, “I can play with the children anytime. I want to help you.”

Then she said, “Richard, please go play with the children.”

When she spoke to me that authoritatively, I obeyed.

I had a marvelous time with our children. We chased each other around and rolled in the fall leaves. Later I went to my meeting. I probably would have forgotten that experience were it not for the lesson that she wanted me to learn.

The next morning about 4:00 a.m., I was awakened as I felt two little arms around my neck, a kiss on the cheek, and these words whispered in my ear, which I will never forget: “Dad, I love you. You are my best friend.”

If you are having that kind of experience in your family, you are having one of the supernal joys of life.

Robert D. Hales


Elder Hales and family. Photo from Elder Hale's book, Return.

Our children will best remember us by our example. I remember experiences from my early childhood that taught me about the priesthood and about how priesthood holders respect womanhood. From my father’s example of tenderly caring for my mother, my aunts, and my sister, I began to see my own responsibilities toward women more clearly. Father was the first to arise from dinner to clear the table. My sister and I would wash and dry the dishes each night at Father’s request. If we were not there, Father and Mother would clean the kitchen together. It may sound like something out of a black-and-white movie, but I have warm memories of Mother and her tiny slippered feet on top of Father’s feet as they danced around the kitchen. Their lives were an expression of their love. 

[. . .]

My father has been gone for many years, but I remember him with love and respect. Examples become memories that guide our lives:

• Memories of Mother and her tiny, slippered feet on top of Father’s feet as they danced around the kitchen and their expressions of love for each other.
• Memories as a young boy sitting on the floor by Mother and Father’s bedside while they took turns reading aloud from the scriptures.
• Memories in later years of going to the Salt Lake Temple and watching Mother and Father participate in the presentation of the endowment ceremony.

• • •


Read more about Elder Hales's family, faith, and reflections in Return: Four Phases of Our Mortal Journey Home.

More about the book:

“Return with honor” is a call that has become familiar to every Latter-day Saint. For Elder Robert D. Hales, this stirring directive was his unit's motto when he served as a jet fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, and he uses it often in his teaching. During his military days, the motto was a constant and powerful reminder to complete each mission honorably — and now it reminds us, the Lord's children, that what we do on earth can make it possible to return with honor to our heavenly home.

A beloved member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Hales writes with keen insight and compassion about the orderly preparations we need to make as we travel through mortality. 

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Jeffrey R. Holland


Holland family portrait. Photo from

A touching story of tempers and patience from young fatherhood, from "Within the Clasp of Your Arms":

Early in our married life my young family and I were laboring through graduate school at a university in New England. Pat was the Relief Society president in our ward, and I was serving in our stake presidency. I was going to school full-time and teaching half-time. We had two small children then, with little money and lots of pressures. In fact, our life was about like yours.

One evening I came home from long hours at school, feeling the proverbial weight of the world on my shoulders. Everything seemed to be especially demanding and discouraging and dark. I wondered if the dawn would ever come. Then, as I walked into our small student apartment, there was an unusual silence in the room.

“What’s the trouble?” I asked.

“Matthew has something he wants to tell you,” Pat said.

“Matt, what do you have to tell me?” He was quietly playing with his toys in the corner of the room, trying very hard not to hear me. “Matt,” I said a little louder, “do you have something to tell me?”

He stopped playing, but for a moment didn’t look up. Then these two enormous, tear-filled brown eyes turned toward me, and with the pain only a five-year-old can know, he said, “I didn’t mind Mommy tonight, and I spoke back to her.” With that he burst into tears, and his entire little body shook with grief. A childish indiscretion had been noted, a painful confession had been offered, the growth of a five-year-old was continuing, and loving reconciliation could have been wonderfully underway.

Everything might have been just terrific—except for me. If you can imagine such an idiotic thing, I lost my temper. It wasn’t that I lost it with Matt—it was with a hundred and one other things on my mind; but he didn’t know that, and I wasn’t disciplined enough to admit it. He got the whole load of bricks.

I told him how disappointed I was and how much more I thought I could have expected from him. I sounded like the parental pygmy I was. Then I did what I had never done before in his life—I told him that he was to go straight to bed and that I would not be in to say his prayers with him or to tell him a bedtime story. Muffling his sobs, he obediently went to his bedside, where he knelt—alone—to say his prayers. Then he stained his little pillow with tears his father should have been wiping away.

If you think the silence upon my arrival was heavy, you should have felt it now. Pat did not say a word. She didn’t have to. I felt terrible!

Later, as we knelt by our own bed, my feeble prayer for blessings upon my family fell back on my ears with a horrible, hollow ring. I wanted to get up off my knees right then and go to Matt and ask his forgiveness, but he was long since peacefully asleep.

My relief was not so soon coming; but finally I fell asleep and began to dream, which I seldom do. I dreamed Matt and I were packing two cars for a move. For some reason his mother and baby sister were not present. As we finished I turned to him and said, “Okay, Matt, you drive one car and I’ll drive the other.”

This five-year-old very obediently crawled up on the seat and tried to grasp the massive steering wheel. I walked over to the other car and started the motor. As I began to pull away, I looked to see how my son was doing. He was trying—oh, how he was trying. He tried to reach the pedals, but he couldn’t. He was also turning knobs and pushing buttons, trying to start the motor. He could scarcely be seen over the dashboard, but there staring out at me again were those same immense, tear-filled, beautiful brown eyes. As I pulled away, he cried out, “Daddy, don’t leave me. I don’t know how to do it. I am too little.” And I drove away.

A short time later, driving down that desert road in my dream, I suddenly realized in one stark, horrifying moment what I had done. I slammed my car to a stop, threw open the door, and started to run as fast as I could. I left car, keys, belongings, and all—and I ran. The pavement was so hot it burned my feet, and tears blinded my straining effort to see this child somewhere on the horizon. I kept running, praying, pleading to be forgiven and to find my boy safe and secure.

As I rounded a curve nearly ready to drop from physical and emotional exhaustion, I saw the unfamiliar car I had left Matt to drive. It was pulled carefully off to the side of the road, and he was laughing and playing nearby. An older man was with him, playing and responding to his games. Matt saw me and cried out something like, “Hi, Dad. We’re having fun.” Obviously he had already forgiven and forgotten my terrible transgression against him.

But I dreaded the older man’s gaze, which followed my every move. I tried to say “Thank you,” but his eyes were filled with sorrow and disappointment. I muttered an awkward apology and the stranger said simply, “You should not have left him alone to do this difficult thing. It would not have been asked of you.”

With that, the dream ended, and I shot upright in bed. My pillow was now stained, whether with perspiration or tears I do not know. I threw off the covers and ran to the little metal camp cot that was my son’s bed. There on my knees and through my tears I cradled him in my arms and spoke to him while he slept. I told him that every dad makes mistakes but that they don’t mean to. I told him it wasn’t his fault I had had a bad day. I told him that when boys are five or fifteen, dads sometimes forget and think they are fifty. I told him that I wanted him to be a small boy for a long, long time, because all too soon he would grow up and be a man and wouldn’t be playing on the floor with his toys when I came home. I told him that I loved him and his mother and his sister more than anything in the world and that whatever challenges we had in life we would face them together. I told him that never again would I withhold my affection or my forgiveness from him, and never, I prayed, would he withhold them from me. I told him I was honored to be his father and that I would try with all my heart to be worthy of such a great responsibility.

Well, I have not proven to be the perfect father I vowed to be that night and a thousand nights before and since.

• • •


Read more about Elder Hollan's family, faith, and reflections in Broken Things to Mend.

More about the book:

Most of us feel broken at some time or another.We face personal trials and family struggles. We get discouraged and downhearted. Many are enduring conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, feeling their lives may be broken beyond repair. In this extraordinary book, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's characteristic good cheer and brilliant insights offer the surest and sweetest remedy of all. He invites all readers, not just the poor in spirit, to come unto Christ and receive “the strength that comes from experiencing firsthand the majesty of His touch.”

This collection of some of Elder Holland's most memorable recent talks inspires us to maintain hope and to rivet our attention on the one Person who has the power to heal us. Broken Things to Mend provides a stirring reminder that, if we come unto the Savior, He will make us whole.

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David A. Bednar


Elder Bednar and his father at his father's baptismal service. Photo found on Life Colloquy.

A memory of his father, from "The Powers of Heaven":

I was reared in a home with a faithful mother and a wonderful father. My mom was a descendant of pioneers who sacrificed everything for the Church and kingdom of God. My dad was not a member of our Church and, as a young man, had desired to become a Catholic priest. Ultimately, he elected not to attend theological seminary and instead pursued a career as a tool and die maker.

For much of his married life, my father attended meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with our family. In fact, many of the people in our ward had no idea that my dad was not a member of the Church. He played on and coached our ward softball team, helped with Scout activities, and supported my mother in her various callings and responsibilities. I want to tell you about one of the great lessons I learned from my father about priesthood authority and power.

As a boy I asked my dad many times each week when he was going to be baptized. He responded lovingly but firmly each time I pestered him: “David, I am not going to join the Church for your mother, for you, or for anyone else. I will join the Church when I know it is the right thing to do.”

I believe I was in my early teenage years when the following conversation occurred with my father. We had just returned home from attending our Sunday meetings together, and I asked my dad when he was going to be baptized. He smiled and said, “You are the one always asking me about being baptized. Today I have a question for you.” I quickly and excitedly concluded that now we were making progress!

My dad continued, “David, your church teaches that the priesthood was taken from the earth anciently and has been restored by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith, right?” I replied that his statement was correct. Then he said, “Here is my question. Each week in priesthood meeting I listen to the bishop and the other priesthood leaders remind, beg, and plead with the men to do their home teaching and to perform their priesthood duties. If your church truly has the restored priesthood of God, why are so many of the men in your church no different about doing their religious duty than the men in my church?” My young mind immediately went completely blank. I had no adequate answer for my dad.

I believe my father was wrong to judge the validity of our Church’s claim to divine authority by the shortcomings of the men with whom he associated in our ward. But embedded in his question to me was a correct assumption that men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently. Men who hold the priesthood should not only receive priesthood authority but also become worthy and faithful conduits of God’s power. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 38:42).

I have never forgotten the lessons about priesthood authority and power I learned from my father, a good man not of our faith, who expected more from men who claimed to bear God’s priesthood. That Sunday afternoon conversation with my dad many years ago produced in me a desire to be a “good boy.” I did not want to be a poor example and a stumbling block to my father’s progress in learning about the restored gospel. I simply wanted to be a good boy. The Lord needs all of us as bearers of His authority to be honorable, virtuous, and good boys at all times and in all places.

You may be interested to know that a number of years later, my father was baptized. And at the appropriate times, I had the opportunity to confer upon him the Aaronic and the Melchizedek Priesthoods. One of the great experiences of my life was observing my dad receive the authority and, ultimately, the power of the priesthood.

Quentin L. Cook


Cook family river rafting together. Photo from

A story of young family life, from "Rejoice":

When our children were small, my wife, Mary, and I decided to follow a tradition which my father taught when I was a child. He would meet with us individually to help us set goals in various aspects of our lives and then teach us how Church, school, and extracurricular activities would help us achieve those goals. He had three rules:

    1. We needed to have worthwhile goals.

    2. We could change our goals at any time.

    3. Whatever goal we chose, we had to diligently work towards it.

Having been the beneficiary of this tradition, I had the desire to engage in this practice with my children. When our son, Larry, was five years old, I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he wanted to be a doctor like his Uncle Joe. Larry had experienced a serious operation and had acquired great respect for doctors, especially his Uncle Joe. I proceeded to tell Larry how all the worthwhile things he was doing would help prepare him to be a doctor.

Several months later, I asked him again what he would like to be. This time he said he wanted to be an airline pilot. Changing the goal was fine, so I proceeded to explain how his various activities would help him achieve this goal. Almost as an afterthought I said, “Larry, last time we talked you wanted to be a doctor. What has changed your mind?” He answered, “I still like the idea of being a doctor, but I have noticed that Uncle Joe works on Saturday mornings, and I wouldn’t want to miss Saturday Morning Cartoons.”

Since that time our family has labeled a distraction from a worthwhile goal as a Saturday Morning Cartoon.

D. Todd Christofferson


Christofferson family role playing history together. Photo from

A memory of his father, from "Let Us Be Men":

Years ago, when my brothers and I were boys, our mother had radical cancer surgery. She came very close to death. Much of the tissue in her neck and shoulder had to be removed, and for a long time it was very painful for her to use her right arm.

One morning about a year after the surgery, my father took Mother to an appliance store and asked the manager to show her how to use a machine he had for ironing clothes. The machine was called an Ironrite. It was operated from a chair by pressing pedals with one’s knees to lower a padded roller against a heated metal surface and turn the roller, feeding in shirts, pants, dresses, and other articles. You can see that this would make ironing (of which there was a great deal in our family of five boys) much easier, especially for a woman with limited use of her arm. Mother was shocked when Dad told the manager they would buy the machine and then paid cash for it. Despite my father’s good income as a veterinarian, Mother’s surgery and medications had left them in a difficult financial situation.

On the way home, my mother was upset: “How can we afford it? Where did the money come from? How will we get along now?” Finally Dad told her that he had gone without lunches for nearly a year to save enough money. “Now when you iron,” he said, “you won’t have to stop and go into the bedroom and cry until the pain in your arm stops.” She didn’t know he knew about that. I was not aware of my father’s sacrifice and act of love for my mother at the time, but now that I know, I say to myself, “There is a man.”

Neil L. Andersen


Andersen family portrait (children and grandchildren). Photo from

In the words of his children, from "Elder Neil L. Andersen: Man of Faith":

The Andersens’ oldest daughter, Camey Hadlock, says, “Daddy [an endearing term still used by his sons and daughters] always made time for the children. For example, he took each one individually to breakfast with him once a month. He let us pick the place for breakfast and the topics we would talk about. We looked so forward to having his undivided attention.”

Derek Andersen remembers his dad making time to play: “Growing up, we loved playing basketball as a family. He’d come home from work, and we’d team up against my older brother and play basketball together.”

Daughter Kristen Ebert recalls that even though her father was extremely busy, “he always had time to listen and to give sound advice.”

The Andersens were so faithful in having family scripture study and singing a hymn each night that the children would do it alone if their parents returned home late.

For family home evening, the Andersens would often study the conference talks in the Ensign. “It was clear that when the prophet spoke, we listened,” Derek says.

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