Wise parents must weigh when children are ready to begin exercising their own agency in a particular area of their lives. But if parents hold on to all decision-making power and see it as their “right,” they severely limit the growth and development of their children.
(Larry Y. Wilson, “Only upon the Principles of Righteousness,”Ensign, May 2012, 103.)
It is wisdom in me; therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man his stewardship; That every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him.
Ask your family to imagine they were to receive a new pet puppy today. Have them make a list of some required duties to care for a pet. Talk about the responsibilities we have to care for our possessions, including our home, bedrooms, cars, and bodies. Ask your family to define the word “stewardship.” (“The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” [Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. “stewardship.”])
- To whom do “all things” actually belong?
- Who do we receive our stewardships from?
- To whom do we report about our stewardships?
- If all that we possess really belongs to the Lord, how should we care for everything we have?
Ask each family member to silently read D&C 104:15–18
. Ask them to look for the Lord’s plan to provide for His children. Ask family members to share one thing from their reading they think is significant and beautiful.
[One definition of stewardship is to] gain talents and magnify them in order that we might be of use to God’s children. In nursing classes we learned about the “disuse phenomenon”: That which we don’t use diminishes in size and usefulness. One powerful example of that was when I wore a cast on my leg for a couple of months. When the cast came off, I was shocked at the skinny, hairy leg that dangled from my body. I wasn’t able just to jump up and run and leap tall buildings in a single bound. The muscles had visibly diminished in size, and it was quickly apparent that they had also diminished in usefulness. It took time, exercise, and a lot of patience to get my leg back to where it had been.
Maybe if we don’t exercise virtue and holiness and faith and trust and love, those talents shrink in size or usefulness. The other side of the disuse phenomenon is also true; maybe we could call it the “use phenomenon”: That which we use increases in size and usefulness. Wear your muscles out with strenuous exercise and they will grow big and hard. Go barefooted for a few months over rough terrain, and the soles of your feet will become tough and durable. I’m convinced that this law is operative not just with muscles but with our ability to serve, to love, to have purpose in prayer and more sense of His care.
Someone once shared with me a fascinating story of an ancient Roman aqueduct in Spain. For eighteen hundred years this aqueduct had carried the cool waters of the Rio Frio down from the high mountains to the thirsty city. Nearly sixty generations of men drank from it. Then came another generation, which said, “This aqueduct is so great a marvel that it should be preserved for our children. We will relieve it of its centuries-old labors.” So they laid modern pipelines to give it a reverent rest. Soon the aqueduct began to fall apart. Built originally of rough-hewn granite blocks, without lime or cement, the sediment of centuries had formed a natural mortar. Now the sun dried it out, and it began to crumble and fall apart. What centuries of service could not destroy, idleness disintegrated.
Gifts and talents that we don’t use and share seem to diminish. It seems true that the more we serve, the more we are able to serve. Our service muscles increase in size and usefulness.
(Mary Ellen Edmunds, Love is a Verb
, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993], p. 102, 109.)
Props: a ping-pong ball.
Divide the family into two teams. Have them kneel around a large table with one team on one side and the other team on the opposite side. Place the ping-pong ball in the center of the table. The object is for one team to blow the ball off the other team’s side. Score points for each time they succeed.
Lead image from Shutterstock