Sunday, May 12, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on the sacred role of mothers

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"During my professional career as a doctor of medicine, I was occasionally asked why I chose to do that difficult work. I responded with my opinion that the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother. Since that option was not available to me, I thought that caring for the sick might come close. I tried to care for my patients as compassionately and competently as Mother cared for me.
"Many years ago the First Presidency issued a statement that has had a profound and lasting influence upon me. 'Motherhood,' they wrote, 'is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.' (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, General Conference October 1942; see Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 6:178)
"Because mothers are essential to God’s great plan of happiness, their sacred work is opposed by Satan, who would destroy the family and demean the worth of women.
"You young men need to know that you can hardly achieve your highest potential without the influence of good women, particularly your mother and, in a few years, a good wife. Learn now to show respect and gratitude. Remember that your mother is your mother. She should not need to issue orders. Her wish, her hope, her hint should provide direction that you would honor. Thank her and express your love for her. And if she is struggling to rear you without your father, you have a double duty to honor her."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women," General Conference, April 1999
Click here to read or listen to the full talk 

President Nelson has spoken a number of times about the influence of his own mother. He developed a great respect for women as he was blessed by a kind and humble woman early in his life. For him, motherhood became "the highest and noblest work in this life"—the most significant and important role anyone could fill.

Meanwhile, President Nelson teaches that Satan seeks to disrupt our perception of the sacred role of mothers, to "destroy the family and demean the worth of women." We must be aware of those tactics and combat them.

This counsel to young men (and young women) is a great message:

As we come to understand the role of women and mothers, we will be eager and sensitive to support and sustain.
Photo taken in 1964 shortly before my father's death

The final sentence of the excerpt is particularly poignant to me, since I was raised by a single mother who was left with five children between ages 4 and 11 when her husband was killed in an accident. I love and honor her and pay tribute to her sacrifices and love for her children. It's hard to conceive of the struggles of single mothers. I wish I had been more aware of the principle President Nelson suggests for youth to be aware and attentive.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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