Our homes can be a heaven on earth when we follow the heavenly pattern of Councils
Today I would, with all the energy of my soul, like to share with you family councils – God’s form of parenting. In doing so, I will use the scriptures and the words of the living prophets and general authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Council in Heaven Let's first look at the "Grand Council" in heaven before the earth was organized. It may not have been the first or last council but it was one of the major ones as far as we are concerned. What were some of the issues and concerns discuss?
Issues: A vision of God's work was presented. He later summarized this to Moses in these words: “This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (women).” Moses 1:39
Before we came to earth, a plan was presented to implement the vision for physical and spiritual perfection. We, as primary players, were to come to earth to gain a body and learn to keep the commandments of God. The mission was summarized well by Jesus Christ in Matt. 24:48 “Be ye therefore perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect.” Jesus also added a process for us to overcome our sins and weakness. It required that we covenant with Him to take upon us his name and keep His commandments. The basic family rules were outlined as the commandments of our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ
Family support: We were not left without support from other family members. God told Abraham and others like Jeremiah that they were foreordained to be teachers (prophets) who, with long suffering and sacrifice, would help us to learn and live eternal law and understand the consequence of our actions. At various times, God and His Son have come to realign or correct the course of the teachings of the prophets as they were corrupted by misunderstanding or designs of men. Such was the case with the appearance to Joseph Smith and with the subsequent restoration of eternal truths and authority.
What was our Participation? We understand that we all participated in this Grand Council and probably in other aspects of the creation process as well. We know this because the proceedings of the council were recorded and reported later by those in attendance. Paul records there was a war in heaven and 1/3 of the host were cast out. Abraham also reported events of that grand council. Was this the only Council? NO! The Gods created/organized the earth and watched that it obeyed. This required a great deal of discussion and council.
The councils in the Church organization emulate the Grand Council and so should the Family Council. Reflect on the word of the prophets but think about family councils as your read.
Elder Pullman said: “The priesthood (family) council is a form of management unique to the divine Church. It assembles to receive the Lord's law by the prayer of faith, to agree upon his work, and to learn how to govern the Church (Family) and have all things right before the Lord.” (D&C 41:2-3). "For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby" (D&D 46:11-12)
The council's strength and effectiveness derive from coordinating individual skills and abilities united with a shared purpose. ...
Pres. N. Eldon Tanner summarized well the Church councils when he said; “Since it’s beginning [restoration], the Church has been governed by leadership councils. Priesthood councils are a fundamental order of the Church, as illustrated repeatedly in the Doctrine and Covenants. Sometimes these councils are advisory in nature. Such is the ward council, where auxiliary leaders advise the bishop and Melchizedek Priesthood leaders in the affairs of the ward. Sometimes these councils are regulatory bodies... These councils, properly organized and functioning, assure a unified approach to move forward the ecclesiastical and temporal work of the Church for the blessing of individuals and families.”
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said “…Church councils are not a new program, but it is a re-emphasis of a principle based on the scriptures and on traditional Church government procedures... The principle we desire to reemphasize was well expressed by Pres. Stephen L Richards, first counselor to Pres. David O. McKay, in these words: “As I conceive it, the genius of our Church government is government through councils. The Council of the Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, the Council of the Stake Presidency... the Council of the Bishopric... I have had enough experience to know the value of councils... I see the wisdom, God's wisdom, in creating councils: to govern his Kingdom. In the spirit under which we labor, men can get together with seemingly divergent views and far different backgrounds, and under the operation of that spirit, by counseling together, they can arrive at an accord.”
Pres. Benson continues: “[Think of the family council] We have felt that in order to be effective, these councils need to be comprehensive in representing all Church programs so that there will be a correlating, coordinating, planning, and resolving body at each of these levels. These councils properly organized and functioning, assure a unified approach to the management of ecclesiastical and temporal affairs.”
President Benson concludes with these words on Family Councils. “I mention family councils because of our persistent emphasis on family unity and family solidarity. By encouraging parents to hold family councils, we imitate in our homes a heavenly pattern.”
Sister Barbara B. Smith, a General President of the Relief Society said: ..."The First presidency directs me to explain the Relief Society's role in the priesthood councils. We believe that Church members, especially Relief Society members (women), should know ...the importance of the Relief Society's role (women's role) in the Church. President Benson spoke of the family council. It is the one for which all of the others (Councils) exist. I repeat Sister Smith words, "It (Family Council) is the one for which all of the others (Councils) exist.” “All families should regularly hold council meetings to discuss such things as how to adjust the budget to include carpet for the living room, assign responsibilities for the garden's care, how to spend the summer vacation--so that together the family can arrive at workable solutions...It is in the home that the woman's most effective influence has always been felt. The sensitivities she has developed in the home need to be applied in other councils so that the cooperation between men and women may produce the most rewarding results for the welfare of all mankind.”
Who is All mankind? Our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, our friends, our community
Further reflections on Family Councils
Elder M Russell Ballard has also spoke of the council principles in families: “The Master Organizer, has inspired a creation of a system of committees and councils. ..I [speak] about the great spiritual power and inspired direction that come from properly conducted family, ward and stake councils...Ideally, all members of any Church or any family council should share their concerns and should suggest solutions based on gospel principles.When we act in a united effort, we create spiritual synergism, which is increase effectiveness or achievement as a result of combined action or cooperation, the result of which is greater than the sum of the individual parts.”
He concludes: “Together we generate synergism that makes us much stronger than when we stand-alone. Family, ward, and stake problems can be solved as we seek solutions in the Lord's way.
Once the appropriate councils are organized and the brethren and the sister have full opportunity to contribute, (Families,) ward and stake leaders can move beyond just maintaining organizations. They can focus their efforts on finding ways to make their world a better place to live. Certainly ward councils can consider such subjects as gang violence, child safety, urban blight, or community cleanup campaigns. [And may I suggest the families can do the same.]
This is the miracle of Church councils: listening to each other and listening to the Spirit! When we support one another in Church Councils, begin to understand how God can take ordinary men and women and make them extraordinary leaders. The best leaders (parents) are not those who work themselves to death trying to do everything single handedly; the best leaders (parents) are those who follow God's plan and counsel and with their councils.”
Family Council meets to consider the same issues as the Grand Council and the Church Councils. In fact, the Church councils as Sister Smith said exist to support and help perfect the Family Council
With marriage we start a new potential kingdom and need a new family council. The Vision and Mission remain the same. We are to perfect those that are part of the unit. The issues remain the same:
Vision of family perfection Mission - Perfection of God's Children Family rules - Commandments adapted to our family Family support issues remain the same the need for physical, emotional spiritual support Being of service to one another and Gods Children by sharing what we know. Supporting our extended family by helping them enter into and keep the commandments of God
Participation requires all family members as children of God to be involved in the plan on a daily bases. There are no small tasks in a family. The work perfects us. If we are wise we will record and report the proceeding of the family. This will become our own Book of Mormon or testament of Christ’s impact on our family.
Family Councils can be held for any size or shape of the family.
If our homes are to become a House of God, a place of refuge and a place where peace and love reside we must follow the heavenly pattern as outlined in D&C 88:119. “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a hours, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.”
We have discussed the doctrine of council but there is not time to discuss the mechanics of how family councils work. [We will discuss that in this website].
I have a personal testimony of the value of Family Council. “No success in life can compensate for failure in the home.” said President David O McKay. The Family Council will guarantee success of your mission on earth.
I conclude with Elder Ballard's testimony, which is my own. "Let us remember that the basic council of the Church is the family council. Fathers and mothers should apply diligently the principles I have discussed in their relationships with each other and with their children. In doing so, our homes can become a heaven on earth.
May God bless you; brothers, sisters and friends, to find inspired consensus and unity as you counsel together in your service one to another. Only in so doing can the Church and our families begin to approach their full potential for doing good among the children of God on earth.
I know God lives and Jesus is the Christ. I know we can accomplish their work better through unity and love as we sit in council one with another. May we be blessed to so do is my humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen"
Religious approach to Family Councils Talk given November 14, 1999 and revised October 10, 2002 & May 29, 2015 By Gordon Taylor