This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Priesthood session of April 1976.
I take the title of this post, “We Need Heroes Close By,” from President Spencer W. Kimball’s talk, entitled, “Boys Need Heroes Close By.” The truth is that both boys and girls need to have heroes they can depend on for righteous, kind, and beneficial guidance. The world has none to offer.
What I find interesting in President Kimball’s talk is his bold assertion that boys need to see their fathers treat women with respect. Likewise, girls need to see their fathers treat women with respect. In fact, mothers need to be seen treating men with respect as well. This whole world lacks in respect for the divine role of husband, wife, father, and mother. Unfortunately, our society has become almost abhorrent to this idea of family love, honor, and respect. Speaking as a prophet, he said,
“We can only tap the powers of heaven on the basis of our personal righteousness. Thus, for the power of the priesthood to truly be felt in a family requires the righteousness of the men and young men therein. We call to the attention of all our priesthood bearers that our relationship with our wives, mothers, and sisters is one in which we kneel together, whether at the altars of the temple or in our own homes; we serve together, side by side, a beautiful partnership.”
According to The Family: A Proclamation to the World,
“HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. … Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
As members of the church, we are familiar with this document, but because the world will never remind us, it is placed upon us to remember and be responsible for acting like the heroes so desperately needed today, of which this document testifies.
Priesthood leaders have been given specific charge, “by divine design … to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”
I’m sure there are many fathers who regret their behavior toward their wife and children when they were young and inexperienced. But as they grow in the gospel, we hope they will capture their divinity as they preside with love and righteousness, and provide security and protection for their families. This is their highest and greatest responsibility and makes them true heroes in the eyes of their wives and children.
Likewise, mothers too must be heroes to their husbands and children. As families practice the characteristics exemplified by our Savior, homes will not only be pleasant places but edifying edifices, schooling all within to be heroes.
All of us have grown up in imperfect households because we are imperfect beings, and truthfully, every home struggles to some extent with anger, abuse, and lost love. Children may be raised by parents who never learned how to love properly. We sometimes assume that every parent should know better than to promote or participate in the abuse of any type, yet abuse continues to generate through the generations. That is what makes Jesus Christ the perfect hero, and why we should do all in our power to be like Him.
While the responsibility is definitely on the parents of the family, Pres. Kimball allows everyone power to become their own hero when he states:
“Develop spiritual strength in yourself.”
That is really the best answer of all. The way to develop that spiritual strength (for both boys and girls alike) is to turn to Jesus Christ–at any age, or as soon as you realize your need. He will help you endure a difficult home situation. He will help you break the cycle of abuse. He will take your anger, as a perpetrator or victim, away from you if you give it to Him. Too many people turn to worldly solutions or let the devil overwhelm them with debilitating self-doubt. Instead, be the hero who turns to Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only way to overcome the world and He is the only hero we can depend upon. Luckily, throughout our lives, others who have given their hearts to Him can stand as heroes for us as well. We need righteous examples close at hand to watch and mold our lives so that we too can be the righteous examples for others.
We need heroes close by, but also, may we be the heroes others may need.
Additional General Conference Odyssey posts:
Power to bless our families and homes Marilyn Nielson