Fatherhood: Inspired Counsel from 15 Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ

One of the most cherished memories in my life occurred when I first heard the April 1999 General Conference talk, The Hands of the Fathers, by Elder Jeffery R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

At the time, I was serving as a missionary in rural Brazil, with no access to satellite broadcasts and limited written communication from family. In those days, letters arrived at the mission home hundreds of miles away, and they would only be delivered periodically at zone conferences. Therefore, receiving the May Ensign six months after conference was a real treat!

Finally the letters arrived, and I was excited to see that my father had sent me audio-cassette tapes of the April 1999 General Conference. The next morning, I turned on my Walkman and heard the voice of Elder Holland talking about the sacred responsibility of fathers. I will never forget the feeling that I had as I stood at the window of our old, beat-up, missionary apartment and heard Elder Holland recite this poem:

Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Toiling and striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come home and to hear his voice. 
Only a dad, but he gives his all,
Smoothing the way for his children small,
Doing with courage so stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
These are the lines that for him I pen,
Only a dad—but the best of men.

Tears filled my eyes as I thought of my own father, and memories flooded my mind. Dad had ALWAYS been there for me. Always. He was there to talk to me after a hard day at school. He was there when I was struggling with what to believe in life. He was there to give me regular priesthood blessings for comfort and healing. He was there for sporting events, choir events, school events, vacations, family home evenings, and nightly visits. He was there for every talk I gave in church, every youth conference, and every Scouting activity. He baptized me, confirmed me a member of the Church, conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon me, and ordained me to the offices of deacon, teacher, and priest. He conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon me, was present for my patriarchal blessing, and witnessed me being set apart as a missionary. 

At that moment, I knew that my father was my hero. He was my best friend. He was who I wanted to be like. He was my example. Despite all of his imperfections and inadequacies, my father’s selfless service and devotion to his family had the single greatest positive impact upon my life. And then, suddenly, I came to a realization that the way my father had lived his life was my personal example of The Father—our Heavenly Father.

As I stood there with tears running down my cheeks, I heard Elder Holland speak these words:
“Surely that must be the spiritual application of Lord Byron’s couplet: ‘Yet in my lineaments they trace, some features of my father’s face.’”
That day, in a small, beat-up apartment in rural Brazil, my Father in Heaven granted me a sweet tender mercy: He gave me a glimpse of the sacred nature of His relationship with His only Begotten Son—our Savior, Jesus Christ.



This week, may we pause and reflect upon our relationships with our fathers, father figures, and/or those remarkable heroes who have made such a positive impact on our lives. For many of us, some of our greatest heroes are those men called and ordained by God as Special Witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. In that spirit, we provide you with prophetic counsel from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We hope you will draw closer together as a family this Father’s Day weekend.

First Presidency

Thomas S. Monson

My own father, a printer, gave to me a copy of a piece he had printed. It was entitled “A Letter from a Father” and concluded with this thought: “Perhaps my greatest hope as a parent is to have such a relationship with you that when the day comes and you look down into the face of your first child, you will feel deep within you the desire to be to your child the kind of parent your dad has tried to be to you. What greater compliment could any man ask? Love, Dad.”


Henry B. Eyring

Melchizedek Priesthood holders who are fathers in sealed families have been taught what they must do. There is nothing that has come or will come into your family as important as the sealing blessings. There is nothing more important than honoring the marriage and family covenants you have made or will make in the temples of God.


Dieter F. Uchtdorf

As home teachers, we are healers. As priesthood leaders, we are healers. As fathers, sons, brothers, and husbands, we should be committed and dedicated healers. We carry in one hand a vial of consecrated oil for blessing the sick; in the other we carry a loaf of bread to feed the hungry; and in our hearts we carry the peaceable word of God, “which healeth the wounded soul.” 


Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Boyd K. Packer

No man receives the fullness of the priesthood without a woman at his side. For no man, the Prophet said, can obtain the fullness of the priesthood outside the temple of the Lord. And she is there beside him in that sacred place. She shares in all that he receives. The man and the woman individually receive the ordinances encompassed in the endowment. But the man cannot ascend to the highest ordinances—the sealing ordinances—without her at his side. No man achieves the supernal exalting status of worthy fatherhood except as a gift from his wife.


L. Tom Perry

Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of [divine] appointment.


Russell M. Nelson

As fathers we should have love unbounded for the mothers of our children. We should accord to them the gratitude, respect, and praise that they deserve. Husbands, to keep alive the spirit of romance in your marriage, be considerate and kind in the tender intimacies of your married life. Let your thoughts and actions inspire confidence and trust. Let your words be wholesome and your time together be uplifting. Let nothing in life take priority over your wife—neither work, recreation, nor hobby.


Dallin H. Oaks

Because my father died before I was eight years old, I had early cause to wonder about the purposes of the Lord in depriving me of a relationship other boys enjoyed and took for granted. As with so many other mortal challenges, the perspective of the gospel of Jesus Christ filled that void. How grateful I am that my brother and sister and I were raised by a widowed mother who used her faith and our parents’ temple marriage to make our departed father a daily presence in our lives. We never had cause to feel that we were without a father. We had a father, but he was away for a season. There are few things more important in this life than knowing your place in mortality and your potential in eternity. Marriages sealed for eternity in a temple of the Lord provide that possibility for every child and for every adult.


M. Russell Ballard

Fathers, you are the primary model of manhood for your sons. You are their most meaningful mentor, and believe it or not, you are their hero in countless ways. Your words and your example are a great influence on them.

And oh, how fathers need to listen. Remember, conversation where you do 90 percent of the talking is not a conversation. Use the word “feel” as often as you comfortably can in your discussions with your sons. Ask: “How do you feel about what you’re learning in that class?” “How do you feel about what your friend said?” “How do you feel about your priesthood and the Church?”


Richard G. Scott

Once I learned an important lesson from my wife…. I had been gone almost two weeks and returned home one Saturday morning…. I noticed that our little washing machine had broken down and my wife was washing the clothes by hand. I began to fix the machine.

Jeanene came by and said, “Rich, what are you doing?”

I said, “I’m repairing the washing machine so you don’t have to do this by hand.”

She said, “No. Go play with the children.”

I said, “I can play with the children anytime. I want to help you.”

Then she said, “Richard, please go play with the children.”

When she spoke to me that authoritatively, I obeyed.

I had a marvelous time with our children. We chased each other around and rolled in the fall leaves…. I probably would have forgotten that experience were it not for the lesson that she wanted me to learn.

The next morning about 4:00 a.m., I was awakened as I felt two little arms around my neck, a kiss on the cheek, and these words whispered in my ear, which I will never forget: “Dad, I love you. You are my best friend.”

If you are having that kind of experience in your family, you are having one of the supernal joys of life.


Robert D. Hales

In the parable of the prodigal son, we find a powerful lesson for families and especially parents. After the younger son “came to himself,” he decided to go home.

How did he know his father wouldn’t reject him? Because he knew his father. Through the inevitable misunderstandings, conflicts, and follies of the son’s youth, I can visualize his father being there with an understanding and compassionate heart, a soft answer, a listening ear, and a forgiving embrace. I can also imagine his son knowing he could come home because he knew the kind of home that was awaiting him. For the scriptures say, “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”


Jeffery R. Holland

As a father, I wonder if I and all other fathers could do more to build a sweeter, stronger relationship with our sons and daughters here on earth. Dads, is it too bold to hope that our children might have some small portion of the feeling for us that the Divine Son felt for His Father? Might we earn more of that love by trying to be more of what God was to His child? In any case, we do know that a young person’s developing concept of God centers on characteristics observed in that child’s earthly parents.


David A. Bednar

I have never forgotten the lessons about priesthood authority and power I learned from my father, a good man not of our faith, who expected more from men who claimed to bear God’s priesthood. [A] Sunday afternoon conversation with my dad many years ago produced in me a desire to be a “good boy.” I did not want to be a poor example and a stumbling block to my father’s progress in learning about the restored gospel. I simply wanted to be a good boy. The Lord needs all of us as bearers of His authority to be honorable, virtuous, and good boys at all times and in all places.


Quentin L. Cook

How we treat those closest to us is of fundamental importance. Violence, abuse, lack of civility, and disrespect in the home are not acceptable—not acceptable for adults and not acceptable for the rising generation. My father was not active in the Church but was a remarkably good example, especially in his treatment of my mother. He used to say, “God will hold men responsible for every tear they cause their wives to shed.”


D. Todd Christofferson

We cannot afford husbands and fathers who fail to provide spiritual leadership in the home. We cannot afford to have those who exercise the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God, waste their strength in pornography or spend their lives in cyberspace (ironically being of the world while not being in the world). Brethren, we have work to do.


Neil L. Andersen

I make a special appeal to fathers: Please be an important part of talking to your children about the Savior. They need the confirming expressions of your faith, along with those of their mother. Although there may be times when a child does not listen with a believing heart, your testimony of Jesus will remain in his or her mind and soul.

Do you remember the story of Alma, who had chosen the wrong path? Returning, he said: “I remembered … my father [speaking] … concerning the coming of … Jesus Christ … to atone for the sins of the world. “As my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.”


1 comment

  1. Love this compilation! Shared it with my dad...I especially liked Elder Scott's story about his wife telling him to go play with the kids.