Guest post by QueLinda.
How Can I Prepare to Establish a Christ-Centered Home?
Building the kingdom of God begins with building a righteous home and family. The family is the most important unit of the Church. As members of the Church, we should establish a home where the Spirit is present. A Christ-centered home offers us a place of defense against sin, refuge from the world, and committed, genuine love. Whether our home is large or small, it can be 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” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:119).
Prepare yourself spiritually
Personal preparation can be the key to this lesson! While being called to teach this principle is probably accompanied by a testimony of the family and the need to have a Christ-centered home. The young women participating in the lesson may be from another mindset and from all over the globe in ways they feel about this, so it is important to be sensitive to the needs of the young women in your class. How a family is defined and how spirituality and happiness are executed within the girls’ homes is as diverse as the girls themselves.
Our Lord’s church grows at a rate of almost 10% every three years with a large proportion of the growth coming from converts. Along those lines, the growth of the church takes place mostly outside of the United States. More than half of the Latter-day Saints making up our global congregation are outside of the US entirely. Being aware of these differences, and the needs of the young women in your class is an important thing to keep in mind in preparing for this lesson.
That being said, not every young woman will have grown up in a typical LDS home. The young women will be coming towards the lesson from anywhere such as having parents married in the temple, single parents, or part member homes where multiple generations live under the same roof like my Latino father’s house. Traditions and cultural backgrounds can be diverse like a bouquet of crazy, beautiful flowers. All are valid and important in making each of the young women into who they are meant to be! Sensitivity and respect for these differences will have a positive effect on the young women and on how they can personally apply this lesson. Consider this while continuing preparation.
This is the link to the lesson on the church website. If time allows, I suggest reviewing the following resources in preparation for your lesson:
1. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129
This is the anthem of families! While reviewing, pay attention to the often looked-over sentence towards the end of the 7th paragraph. “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.” Be sensitive and open to the girls in sharing their family settings. For me, I was the only one in the class during my years as a young woman who had two separate households. I would have been grateful had lessons accounted for this and were open to addressing my unique situation.
2. L. Tom Perry, “Becoming Goodly Parents,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 26–28
I love that Elder Perry shared that he realized what a great home he had later in life. Some of the girls may not have the ideal home till they become independent and build their own homes. For any of the young women who are in tough family situations presently, it can be surprising what a gift it is to realize that they can choose their own future. I will never forget watching General Conference alone in my room with the volume down low, giving my parent the excuse that I was cleaning my room, because they did not share my desire to listen to the Mormon prophets. For young women like this or in other challenging situations, Elder Perry’s counsel may be more of an outline of what they can do in the future. All of his suggestions are for parents, but are simple and true of what any individual can do independently, i.e. Prayer and scripture study are just as effective done by one as done by two or more to put Christ first.
3. Richard G. Scott, “For Peace at Home,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 29–31
I particularly enjoyed this talk as it addresses diverse situations and is given almost directly to the youth. I primarily use this talk in my lesson outline.
Introduce the doctrine
Have the young women share places they have been where they have felt the influence of the spirit. Answers can be anywhere from church buildings, their own homes, friends homes, or even places in the outdoors. This is a good way to ensure the girls recognize the kind of peace that means the Savior’s influence is present. Then have them discuss when they have felt this or other positive, happy feelings in their own homes. Some girls might relate moments like, “when we pray,” or “when we have family home evening.” Some might share, “when my family went out to dinner,” or “when we watched tv together.” Back in the day, my answer would have probably been, “dancing together in the living room after dinner.”
No matter the type of home environment, hopefully the young women will able to tell of a positive time or situation. Keep these young ladies positive and hopeful while the lesson continues. Help them to recognize that during happy, loving times at home that the Spirit is present, even when the situation is not the typically church-outlined example. Teach that there are things they can presently do or in the future to have a Christ-centered home.
Share the beginning of Elder Scott’s talk:
Many voices from the world in which we live tell us we should live at a frantic pace. There is always more to do and more to accomplish. Yet deep inside each of us is a need to have a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and reenergize to prepare for future pressures. The ideal place for that peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece. Some homes have a father who is a worthy priesthood holder joined by a faithful, devoted mother who together lead in righteousness. Many homes have a different configuration. Regardless of your circumstances, you can center your home and your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is the source of true peace in this life.
Explain that a place of refuge is a gift and how Christ’s influence exists in such places. Share how that while it is ideal to have this place be one’s own home, our Lord would help us to be close to Him anywhere, anytime, and especially within ourselves. Help the young women focus on their own actions, their own choices to either affect their homes or themselves.
Break up the class into sections, giving each group a section from the rest of Elder Scott’s talk. Allow them time to read and discuss their assigned sections. Then, they can write down either Elder Scott’s suggestions for bringing Christ into the home or ideas inspired by the talk. Check on the groups as they work and offer help along the way. Gather the class back together and allow the young women to share what they have written.
I’m sure you can identify the fundamental principles that center your home on the Savior. The prophetic counsel to have daily personal and family prayer, daily personal and family scripture study, and weekly family home evening are the essential, weight-bearing beams in the construction of a Christ-centered home. Without these regular practices it can be difficult to find the desired and much-needed peace and refuge from the world. Be obedient to the prophetic teachings Christ would have you follow. Don’t rationalize away future happiness by taking shortcuts instead of applying sound gospel principles. Remember: little things lead to big things. Seemingly insignificant indiscretions or neglect can lead to big problems. More importantly, simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings.
This group will focus on something they can do personally and fundamentally such as reading their scriptures and prayers. I especially like that Elder Scott asks us to remember to avoid shortcuts. Whether following parents that are a good example or alone in efforts in the home, all of us can try to do better. Prompt the girls to add personal ideas to this list. Ask them questions.
- What are other types of family activities like Family Home Evening that strengthen the family?
- What are other ways the home can feel peace?
- What shortcuts can we avoid? What ways can we work harder in the home?
- Are their little things that can be done at home or personally that bring God’s Spirit?
You live in a world where technological advances occur at an astounding pace. It is difficult for many of my generation to keep up with the possibilities. Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication. For example, many of us have a personal electronic device that fits into our pocket. We are seldom without its company; we may refer to it many times a day. Unfortunately, these devices can be a source of filth and wasted time. But, used with discipline, this technology can be a tool of protection from the worst of society. Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit. Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need.
With this group, the focus is technology. Is there a youth without some access to a computer, phone, or some device? How often do we see that as a negative? How often do the youth spend more time on technology than interacting with family members? Elder Scott turns it around to a positive. This section should help the girls to come up with idea to use their tech to come closer to the Savior. Also ask this group questions to inspire personal ideas.
- Ask them if there are any scriptures that they love? Is there a way to access this on their Ipod or phone?
- Are there ways that their tech could give them an opportunity to help someone without access?
- Technology includes tv and radio. Could the girls come up with ideas that include these mediums to get closer to the Savior?
Doing all we can to invite the gentle, guiding influence of the Holy Ghost into our lives is critical in our attempts to center our homes on the Savior. Acting obediently on those promptings strengthens us even more. Greater peace will come as you couple your efforts to be obedient with serving those around you. So many individuals who have what they perceive to be meager talents humbly and generously use those talents to bless the lives of those around them. Selfishness is the root of great evil. The antidote for that evil is exemplified in the life of the Savior. He shows us how to focus our lives outward in unselfish service to others. I have learned a truth that has been repeated so frequently in my life that I have come to know it as an absolute law. It defines the way obedience and service relate to the power of God. When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God—power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord. His power is a fundamental component to establishing a home filled with peace.
Obedience to any of God’s laws is the focus for this section. I love anything that builds confidence. Reading this, I think to myself, “wow, I don’t have to be much, I just have to use what I’ve got to serve and obey the Lord.” I recently ran into one of my Young Women’s leaders this summer. The gratitude that I felt for her….she never focused on what I didn’t understand because I hadn’t joined the church till I was 15, she never acted affected by some of my rough ways of action, she just loved me. I felt it. The young women of our church should all be so loved. When they are, they do amazing things! Don’t be afraid to encourage any the ideas the girls get and write down. Doing so will give them confidence in the way they choose to be close to the Lord. Questions can help this group as well.
- What are talents the girls possess that can make their homes now or later a better place?
- What are some of God’s laws that we can obey to improve the quality of our lives?
- What are some simple ways to show those we live with that we love them?
Live what we are learning
Ask each young woman to pick something that they can do personally to bring a loving or happy spirit to their homes from the lists they have created. If they are inspired to share the item they chose, have them share it! Saying their personal prayers or reading their scriptures are typical, but great choices. But, also encourage the young women to come up with other goals. The possibilities are endless. My mom used to hide fishing poles behind the seat her truck. She would convince me that we were going for a Sunday drive, but always tricked me and we would end up at the local reservoir. How I wish I could have made it a goal to enjoy those times in the moment! The girls could choose to do a favor or chore for a family member, not complain when helping do the laundry, or forgiving a sibling. They could hang an image of Christ in their personal space, locker at school, or in their closets. Another goal from my youth could have been to be more understanding of my single parent’s limited time for me. If any of the girls simply choose to be nicer to someone who lives in their home, it is a great goal.
Encourage the young women to pick an idea that they currently do in their homes that will help center Christ in their future home. This will give the girls whose homes are not ideal realise the good in their families, and bring some hope that they can do something about their future. As the only church member in my home when I was in Young Women, I often shied away from lessons that were directed at improving the home of my youth. I didn’t feel in a position to cause change at that time. But I will never forget sitting in a lesson that asked me to list all of the things that my parents did that I would love to continue along with what I would not continue. Some of the items from that list that exist in my home today are family prayer, celebrating birthdays as though they were national holidays, regular games of family Hide-n- Go Seek, and having music play a huge role in my home. I was grateful that I could plan for a future directed by my own actions. Today, I am especially grateful to see that those goals made so long ago became a reality.
Now call the girls to action. Commit them to living these choices. Have them write these goals in a journal, or on their mirror, or even on a bookmark. Write them somewhere where they can see these choices and remember them for their future. Testify to the girls that they can indeed feel the Savior’s love in their homes and can center their future lives on Christ.