I sent out the previous blog entry to all my grandkids by way of their parents. And wouldn't you just know that I would get an even better 'entry' by return email? The following is the talk that Jacob gave at his Stake Priesthood Meeting. Jacob is on the Stake High Council and when we are together he doesn't do a lot of talking. However, it is apparent that he does a lot of thinking. I'm posting this here so I can have ready access to it for years to come. It's going to be one of those entries that has a paper/plastic bookmark attached for easy reference once it goes to print.
I have been sent a message. The message is extremely important to us, and I hope you will consider it seriously.
I am going to talk about preparing young men but I'm going to do it a a little differently. First, I will discuss the importance of preparing yourselves to prepare them, then the importance of correct principles as we teach young men, then some practical ideas to help young men, then the eternal consequences of our roles as fathers and leaders on the youth.
This topic has actually been on my mind for some time, as I see that there is an assault on men and on their eternal roles. If this assault is successful it can have serious consequences. I was thinking about this and a verse of scripture came very powerfully to me. Jesus used it differently then I will but the principle is very apt. He said in the New Testament:
Mark 3:27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house
Matthew 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
What happens to our homes or our neighborhoods, or our nation when the strong men are bound either physically, spiritually, or mentally.
A good example of this was in Baltimore. Crime is on the rise and police are afraid to do their jobs because they have lost the support and respect of the community. One news article said, "More violence in Baltimore, the worst in years as the police union says its officers are under siege and afraid of being arrested just for doing their job." It literally is an example of what happens when the strong men are bound from doing their jobs for any reason.
The same can happen to us. We can be bound, limiting our ability to protect our families' spiritual safety or physical safety. The scriptures say that when we are bound we must be free. Brethren, we must be free to do our jobs, fulfill our duties to our families, and our communities.
Paraphrasing words of Lehi : Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.
What binds us? What makes us unable to do our work of building men, and saving souls, and ourselves?
Yes to each of these three but I want it even more simple. Let's use the scout oath which many of us have taken upon ourselves.
Remember! We promised to keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. I'd say if we do these things we will be well off.
Physically strong: Physical limitations are often, (though not always) of our own doing. We do not keep ourselves strong. We eat and eat, and are gluttonous , and we do not get active and our bodies decay. Then it's a vicious cycle. It's easy to point a finger at the smoker, or drinker, but how many of us are weak and slow because we eat too much. Jesus was never fat, and he never overate. He had complete control of his appetites and wants us to do the same. Many including myself have this problem we can work on. As I write this I am eating a handful of peanut butter M & M's, and just ate two pieces of pie. This is not gospel 101, its gospel 500.
Mentally awake: We need to make education and self improvement a life long goal. This makes us productive and useful to our families and society. An idle man is not doing his duty,and the idle have no place in Zion according to the scriptures. No matter how old or debilitated you are there is always something you can contribute. Annie Clark, a 7-year-old at Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin, Pa., got a trophy and $1,000 as one of two national winners of the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship from the Zaner-Bloser language arts and reading company. She had no hands.
Morally straight: We will have a hard time training our young men to be good, honest, faithful and true to the commandments if we do not keep them . Pornography will tie you up very tight so you can't do anything. For example, you won't be ale to tell your family to keep the sabbath day holy and tell them to read the scriptures when you are watching the game on Sunday and not doing it yourself. It's like saying on Sunday, "Hey, kid get out of here, and go read your scriptures. Can't you see I'm watching the NBA final here."
So we must become free to exercise our duties. Only when we are a truly free, and not bound, we as strong men become very good teachers of the youth.
The best lesson on how to raise a family is summarized in a few short verses of the D and C 122
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith,
If we do these things we will be successful parents and leaders. I often remind my children that I am their father, not their judge. I teach them they are accountable, and they will have to live with the consequences of their actions. I cannot coerce them to do the right things, but I can give them the opportunities to learn, grow, and make choices and do it in a safe and secure environment where they know the faith and can keep it. I joke that I was perfect before I had kids and a wife, because being a man means truly we will suffer long, and love greatly, and be patient. The greatest truly is the servant. We persuade by showing a good example. We do not control by forcing children.
My kids know my successes and some of my failures, and they know that I have faith in God, and I have high expectations for them. They may go haywire and chose something else some day which would break my heart (Sam , Cody and Peter… I can still guilt them) but should that happen I will love them and wait. That is all you can do, They kick against the pricks and it hurts and the pain will drive them back to the right way most of the time. It takes along time, but God has a long time to work with souls. His dominion increases without compulsory means forever, because every intelligence eventually learns the easy way or the hard way that His way is best.
Practically speaking we need to teach our youth that they are not children but men, we cannot with the world excuse poor decisions because they are just kids. God said the age of accountability is 8 ... so 14 or 20 or 30 year olds don't get a pass because they are "young and stupid," that's the devil's talk. Men are expected to do hard things. They must know that a mission is hard and quitting is not an option. They must do hard things,
Real men are expected to live up to their potential. Real men are expected to work hard. Real men shop, clean house, take care of children, and help the mothers and wives to fulfill their duties. I like when my boys do manly things. Bishop Rupert last week took my boys out to butcher a rooster which I think is a good survival experience, and I appreciated it.
I spent the last 6 years working under Bishop Patrick. If he had a theme song it would be about making the young men do hard things so they could finish their mission, and do hard things in their lives.
I would like to read something from Cody. He was asked to write about something he has done that's hard and what he learned from it. This is what he wrote:
"I am blessed with a Bishop over the past five years who believes it is important for young men to experience grueling physical challenges to help us learn to endure future hardships such as a mission in the future. To accomplish this goal, two years ago in the middle of July he decided to take the troop out on a 50 mile back packing trip through Indiana, for our high adventure. To my recollection, his thought is that if we can endure a painful, long, excursion as youth, we will be able to finish hard things as adults. I hope he is right, because I did endure this difficult journey and therefore will definitely be in a good position to endure a mission.
There were many elements that made this hike difficult. First, there were the bugs. Indiana is loaded with them. There were mosquitoes, ticks galore, flies, gnats, and other variety insects I cannot name. These attacked us with merciless abandon on these trails. I think we heard the bugs laughing out loud when we applied our "insect repellant." Second, there was the hike itself. We carried our food, our water , our camping equipment for 50 miles uphill, downhill and on the rare flat terrain. This was very difficult for us lightweight 14 year olds. The worst was the last challenge. The heat and humidity were almost intolerable. It got so bad that when we got to one stretch of highway, several members of the troop literally took off their pants and hiked for miles in their boxer shorts to find some refuge from the elements. It was purely out of necessity as a survival mechanism. I list these to give a flavor for our difficulties.
These things being explained, I will conclude with credit to my Bishop. He could have assigned the young men presidency and scout leaders the task to bring the boys out to learn the lessons that nature can teach while he stayed at home in the air conditioning. However, he went with us, the whole way. Not only did he go on this trip, he stayed to the rear to see the youngest and weakest boys to the end while I and a few others tried to go as fast as we could leaving the others behind. I heard that one boy, a nonmember who was always the slowest, heard much encouragement from the Bishop as he plodded along the trail.
This trip taught me several things. I have wonderful memories of this trip. My friends that went with me and I will always remember the 50 mile hike with Bishop Patrick. I learned that when you do something hard, though painful in the middle, at the end proves much fulfillment. I learned that to be a leader means to do what you tell others to do, even when you could get out of it. Lastly, I learned that I can do hard things now and in the future... the lesson the Bishop wanted to teach us. "
It is important to realize that being on a mission will be a hard thing, brethren, and the young men need to be prepared to succeed. In the Marshall Islands Cody must be ready for trials and tribulations, and troubles. It will be hot and miserable…(just leave your pants on, they wouldn't like if you took those off).
The stakes are high, because we are not only raising our children, but we are also raising their children. The lord blesses the righteous to the third and fourth generation of them that love him. How? Because righteous parents raise righteous children and they will raise righteous children so basically the effect of one righteous priesthood holder, can effect your children and your children's children . Thousands of souls will rise up and call you blessed.
Begin with the end in mind. How you see your children in 25 years effects how you treat them today. If you see your children on missions, marrying in the temple and serving in the church faithfully you will do things differently than if you don't see that vision of your children. I have always seen my children as future church leaders, bishops, stake presidents, general authorities, and have always had high expectations of them.
In conclusion Be men. Raise strong men, and help them to be like the master, Jesus Christ whose priesthood this is. He is the ultimate strong man, and no one can spoil his house because of his superior power, and awesome manliness.
I wrote to thank Jacob for sharing his talk with me and his reply told me more about him and the man he is as well as how this talk came to him. Let me add his reply in part:
It was funny because I really have had the ideas about bind the strong man for a while and when the president asked me to speak it seemed like a great place to talk about it. I went to write it and it seemed awful and I couldn't get it to come. Then I was in a campout Friday night sleeping under the stars on a cot but I couldn't sleep and was thinking hard about it / praying and it all came to me in that format and I was grateful because I hate to give meaningless or boring talks. So I give God the credit.