Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ezra Taft Benson on fatherhood - our most important responsibility

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
"These times require great things from fathers, and so does the Lord. Three requirements are: create a home where love and the Spirit of the Lord may abide; bring up children in light and truth; and set your homes in order.
"The sacred title of 'father' is shared with the Almighty. In the Church men are called and released. Did you ever hear of a mortal father being released?
"As I travel throughout the Church and see faithful families, I say,'Thank God for exemplary fathers and mothers.' As I see faithful young people and am proud of their accomplishments, I say, 'Thank God for diligent fathers and mothers.'
"Fatherhood is not a matter of station or wealth; it is a matter of desire, diligence, and determination to see one's family exalted in the celestial kingdom. If that prize is lost, nothing else really matters.
"I know of one family who has as its goal that each member of the family and posterity will arrive in their heavenly home—the celestial kingdom—with no vacant chairs. That is their objective. They review it at every family reunion and mention it frequently as they mingle together between reunions.
"God bless all the fathers in Israel to do well the work within the walls of our own homes. With the Lord's help we shall succeed in this, our most important responsibility."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Great Things Required of Their Fathers," Ensign May 1981, p. 36
Click here to read the full talk

President Benson's counsel centers around the statement, "The sacred title of 'father' is shared with the Almighty." He presents a vision of the role of a mortal father that emulates the actions and motivations of our Heavenly Father. To him, fatherhood "is a matter of desire, diligence, and determination to see one's family exalted in the celestial kingdom."

President Benson gives the example of a family whose goal was "no vacant chairs" in their eventual heavenly destination. In many later talks, he spoke of his own family as having had that motto, normally using the similar phrase "no empty chairs." Whether he was being modest in this talk by not identifying his own family, or whether he adopted the thought for his family from someone else he knew, I don't know for sure.

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