On July 9, 1841, Joseph Smith visited Brigham Young at his home in Nauvoo—a log cabin his wife had built in his absence while raising and caring for their children alone. Brigham had returned a week earlier from a mission to England and had immediately gotten to work helping her with a job which was too much for one person: ““I spent [my time]” he wrote, “in draining, fencing and cultivating my lot, building a temporary shed for my cow, chinking and otherwise finishing my house” (“History of Brigham Young,” Deseret News, Mar. 17, 1858, quoted in Lisa Olsen Tait and Chad M. Orton, “Take Special Care of Your Family,” Revelations in Context).
While in Brigham’s home, Joseph received a revelation. The Lord said, “Dear and well-beloved brother, Brigham Young, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me.” After serving many missions himself, he was now to send other people to preach the gospel. The Lord instructed him to stay home and “take especial care of your family” (Doctrine and Covenants 126:1, 3).
The Book of Mormon emphasizes the importance of family and parental responsibilities:
- Nephi begins the book by offering gratitude for “goodly parents” who taught him and cared for him (1 Nephi 1:1).
- When Nephi’s father, Lehi, was commanded to leave Jerusalem, he “took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents” (1 Nephi 2:4). Later, as he partook of the fruit of the tree of life in a dream, his first thought was to share it with his family. (See 1 Nephi 8:11-18.)
- When King Benjamin gathered his people for his final sermon, they gathered with their families in tents around the temple. (See Mosiah 2:5.)
- The sons of Helaman, who were miraculously preserved in battle, told their commander that they had learned to exercise faith from their mothers. (See Alma 56:47-48.)
- When Jesus visited the American continent, He commanded the people, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21). As He prepared to leave after the first day of teaching, He instructed them to go home and ponder what they had learned (3 Nephi 17:3).
- The history of the Jaredite civilization begins with two men—Jared and his brother—taking care of their families during a confusing and troubling time. (See Ether 1:33-43.)
- Near the end of the book, Moroni quotes two letters written to him by his father (Moroni 8, 9).
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson has reminded us that we have many opportunities to serve within our own families:
As you strive to become more like the Savior Jesus Christ and live your covenants, you will continue to be blessed with desires to relieve suffering and to help those who are less fortunate. Remember that some of the greatest needs may be those right in front of you. Begin your service in your own homes and within your own families.“The Needs Before Us,” General Conference, October 2017
And Elder Neal A. Maxwell encouraged us to let some things go in order to dedicate more time to family:
Given the gravity of current conditions, would parents be willing to give up just one outside thing, giving that time and talent instead to the family? Parents and grandparents, please scrutinize your schedules and priorities in order to ensure that life’s prime relationships get more prime time! Even consecrated and devoted Brigham Young was once told by the Lord, “Take especial care of your family” (D&C 126:3). Sometimes, it is the most conscientious who need this message the most!“Take Especial Care of Your Family,” General Conference, April 1994
Today, I will look for opportunities to serve my family. I will strive to dedicate my best efforts to my most important relationships.