As young kids, most of us were taught to be reverent in church, to walk down the halls with our arms folded and sit quietly in our seats during our classes. But as we’ve grown up, we’ve hopefully come to learn that reverence means much more than just quietly sitting or walking in church.
Like onions, there are different layers to reverence and different words that can be considered synonyms or perhaps counterparts of reverence, such as respect, love, honor, spirituality, and strength.
President David O. McKay explained: “Reverence embraces regard, deference, honor, and esteem. Without some degree of it, therefore, there would be no courtesy, no gentility, no consideration of others’ feelings, or of others’ rights. … Reverence directs thought toward God. Without it there is no religion.”
Reverence should be an important part of our daily worship of God. By being reverent in our words and actions, we show respect, love, and gratitude to God, and we act in a reverent, respectful, and loving way by obeying His commandments.
Vaughn J. Featherstone once said that reverence is “a spiritual communication between us and our Father in heaven. When we are reverent, we don’t do anything that reflects negatively upon the Lord or His Church. This does not mean just during meetings, but it includes our conduct wherever we may be or in whatever we do.”
As we’re thinking about God and trying to connect with Him, we do it in a respectful way and we show our love to Him—and doing this influences everything else we do. It’s difficult to disconnect respect for others with reverence for our Heavenly Father. The way we talk to people, what we say to them, and how we act toward them is how we show love and respect—or dislike and disrespect—to them, to ourselves, and to God.
This reverence needs to be present not only in our Church meetings but also in our homes and in our hearts.
How do you teach reverence?
It has to start in your home. The world is more loud, crude, and rude today than it has ever been. You can teach your children the core values of reverence and respect and why it’s important to be reverent and respectful toward everyone and everything. You can teach them that we need the Spirit with us to guide us, and the Spirit won’t be with us when we’re in a loud and confrontational atmosphere. You can also teach them that they are children of God and that they need to respect themselves by taking care of their physical body and their spirit.
You can also foster reverence by teaching your children to follow the first two great commandments: to love God and to love your neighbors as yourself. Remind them that in loving others, you show respect and reverence toward them and toward God.
In a 1994 article in the Liahona, a dad perfectly explains reverence to his son while they’re on a camping trip:
“I love nature. I feel a reverence for nature that is a little like the reverence that I feel for Heavenly Father. I love the mountains so much that I’ve tried to learn about them. I’ve learned the names of the flowers and birds and trees. I’ve learned to walk quietly and sit quietly so that I can watch the animals. I pick up litter whenever I see it so that it doesn’t spoil what’s here, and I’m very careful with our campfire. I do everything I can to show respect for the beauty that is here and try to make sure that my activities don’t interfere with other people’s enjoyment of the area. Every time I come, I love it more. After I’ve been in the mountains, I have a good feeling about myself. I always leave with a feeling of peace. The reverence that I feel for Heavenly Father is similar, only much stronger.”
Your ability to demonstrate reverence for God will be strengthened as you show respect for one another and the world around us. Take a minute today to listen to an episode of Stories from General Conference about reverence.