“Some Candid Questions for Home Teachers,” Ensign, Sept. 1972, 80
The priesthood principle of watching over the Church (home teaching) was instituted by the Lord before the Church was organized. It is an inherent responsibility of a bearer of the priesthood.
If you are a home teacher, the chances are that you want to improve your understanding and ability of “watching over the church.” Most of us want to have the right attitude and do the right thing.
We know that we are assigned by our priesthood leaders to “visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties,” and “to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking. And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.” (D&C 20:47, 53–55.)
And we also know that we do this through the presiding authority of those families assigned to us—the father.
We have been counseled that “the family, presided over by the priesthood holder, is the basic Church unit. The order of the priesthood requires home teachers to work with a family through the presiding authority in the family, the father. The father should be recognized in his position. The Lord is holding him responsible for the righteous function of his family in relation to other church units and for the conducting of his family into eternal life. Home teachers working with and through the father strengthen his role and responsibility.” (Priesthood Home Teaching Handbook, 1971.)
It is in the area of how to help that most of us seek suggestions and ideas. Review the following questions. If you will pointedly ask yourself each of the questions and think about your answers, you will prepare yourself to properly “watch over the church.”
1 Have I, as a home teacher, knelt before the Lord in earnest supplication for the fathers and families assigned to me? Have I prayed with the fathers, individually and as appropriate, in seeking the Lord’s guidance in establishing a proper relationship with them and their families? Have I and my priesthood leader knelt to present ourselves before the Lord to be his tools in strengthening the homes of the kingdom? Have my companion and I also sought the Lord’s counsel?
2 Have I listened carefully to the instructions of my priesthood leader? Do I fully understand his spirit and his concern for the families under his responsibility?
3 Do I respect the sacred nature of the family unit by working with and through the father, even when the father is inactive or a nonmember? Do I sit down with the father as often as needed? Do I listen to him? Do I encourage and praise and otherwise uplift him?
4 Am I constantly alert to ways of establishing and maintaining friendship and confidence with my assigned families?
5 Do I recognize that my calling and opportunity as a home teacher is to watch over and strengthen fathers of families?—that the Lord expects fathers and mothers first to teach the gospel to their families in regular family home evenings and daily as teaching moments arise?—that my companion and I may be asked to assist on special occasions?
6 Do I meditate and plan ways to strengthen and assist those members who are strong in the Church? for those who are new or perhaps not so strong?
7 Am I conscientiously relaying special messages and fulfilling special assignments given to me by my priesthood leader and the bishop?
8 Have I made it a habit to greet my families as they attend their various meetings? Am I concerned when I notice their absence?
9 Do I have a plan for those families who have not yet been sealed as eternal units in the house of the Lord?
10 Am I aware of any father’s need of assistance in establishing and maintaining effective family home evenings?
11 Am I available to my families, and do they seek me out for special assistance, such as illness, accident, death, or emergency transportation?
12 In general, am I always thinking of how I can help the fathers under my care magnify their priesthood by fully accepting their responsibilities as patriarchs of their families?
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
“But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
“Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?
“Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
“I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
“Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.” (D&C 58:26–33.)