Our Children’s Divine Destiny
April 2024

“Our Children’s Divine Destiny,” Liahona, Apr. 2024.

Our Children’s Divine Destiny

Four ways parents can help their children learn about Jesus Christ and recognize the divine within them.

young man praying

Children are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In the pre-earth life, if we had been asked a similar question, our answer may have simply been, “I want to be like our heavenly parents.”

Parenting is often about bedtimes and bath times, teaching and tantrums, correcting and comforting. But perhaps we can step back a moment and see our parenting from a broader perspective, remembering our children’s divine nature—that they are God’s children too—and that they have a divine destiny, even to become like God one day (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:20).

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, taught, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents, and our highest aspiration is to attain the fulness of eternal exaltation.”1 And each of us has that divine potential. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”2

Parents can help children navigate and be successful in their path to become like God. But to become more like Him, our children must first learn more about what God is like. One reason Jesus Christ came to earth was to help us understand our Heavenly Father. As the Savior said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30); “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). To become like God, we turn to the Savior, learning of Him.

Here are four things we can do to help our children learn who Jesus Christ is and therefore come to know their Heavenly Father:

  1. Teach them to trust the Savior’s apostles and prophets.

  2. Teach them to act in faith.

  3. Teach them the importance of revelation.

  4. Exemplify the Savior’s qualities.

Trusting the Apostles and Prophets

One of the most important ways our children will come to know Jesus Christ is by listening to His chosen special witnesses. Just as in New Testament times, Apostles today help us understand His character and His work. President Russell M. Nelson taught: “Ordained Apostles of Jesus Christ always testify of Him. They point the way as we make our way through the heart-wrenching maze of our mortal experiences.”3 And Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior.”4

It’s also important to teach our children to have humility and patience as they listen to our inspired leaders. Elder Andersen said: “Don’t be surprised if at times your personal views are not initially in harmony with the teachings of the Lord’s prophet. These are moments of learning, of humility, when we go to our knees in prayer. We walk forward in faith, trusting in God, knowing that with time we will receive more spiritual clarity from our Heavenly Father.”5 The Lord taught an important principle when He said of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:5). Teaching our children to have patience and work for understanding will make them spiritually self-reliant throughout their lives.

Acting in Faith

To know something is more than memorizing facts. People can read books about playing the piano, yet if they never play a note, their knowledge won’t help them become a piano player. The same is true of knowing Jesus Christ. Coming to know Him is more than just knowing facts. To come to know Him, we must do as He does.

The Savior emphasized that doing is an essential part of knowing: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “We begin to come to know the Savior as we arouse our spiritual faculties and experiment upon His teachings.”6 King Benjamin asked, “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?” (Mosiah 5:13).

Our children can learn about Christ through scripture study, seminary, and general conference. However, these will be insufficient without doing what Christ did: preaching the gospel, caring for those in need, and going about “doing good” (Acts 10:38).

The Church’s Children and Youth program can help our children act in faith. We can help them consider goals that will help them do the things Christ did and come to know who He is.7

Seeking Revelation

We also come to know Christ at a more personal level when, as President Nelson has urged, we hear him through the Spirit: “We also hear Him more clearly as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is the messenger. He will bring thoughts to your mind which the Father and Son want you to receive.”8

Our children can come to know the Savior when they hear what He wants them to know and do individually. The Children and Youth program encourages children and youth: “You can pray to learn what [your talents] are and what you can work on right now.”9 As children seek to understand what the Savior wants for them, their opportunity to feel His love personally grows.

We can teach them not to be discouraged if answers don’t come right away. They can continue in faith, knowing they will feel God’s love as they work to hear Him. President Nelson outlined steps that will help us, in the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “grow into the principle of revelation,” including: immersion in the scriptures, drawing near to the Lord in prayer, listening for answers and recording our feelings, and (while we won’t have to be perfect) making daily efforts to be increasingly worthy.10

mother and daughter praying together

Being an Example

Finally, as parents, one of the most impactful ways we teach our children about Christ is emulating His qualities in our own lives. President Jeffrey R. Holland, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “Is it too bold to hope that our children might have some small portion of the feeling for us that the Divine Son felt for His Father? Might we earn more of that love by trying to be more of what God was to His child? In any case, we do know that a young person’s developing concept of God centers on characteristics observed in that child’s earthly parents.”11

When we emulate Christ, we help reveal Him and the Father to our children. Some of Christ’s qualities are outlined in Moroni 7:44–45, including charity, hope, kindness, meekness, not being easily provoked, suffering long, and enduring all things.

One woman I know had a father who was often angry and easily upset. She said, “For many years, I saw Heavenly Father the same way I saw my own—someone who for the most part kept his distance and was easily disappointed.” This impacted her ability to truly understand Heavenly Father. However, she shared that Heavenly Father helped her learn that “He is slowly walking me out of fearing Him and into the saving power of His love.” She began to see the real Him.

The first purpose of Primary is to help children feel their Heavenly Father’s love.12 This can also be one of the first purposes of parents. As children feel Heavenly Father’s love, they will have a better understanding of Him and want to become like Him.

What do our children want to be when they grow up? As parents, we can foster a desire in them to be like our heavenly parents. Jesus Christ is our perfect example, and as we help our children come to Him, they are more likely to gain this desire. We can help them come to know God and Jesus Christ by building trust in apostles and prophets, helping them act as the Lord would, helping them hear Him through the Spirit, and emulating the Lord in our own actions.

Our example and their covenant relationship with the Lord will create stability, a sense of belonging, and the knowledge of God’s love that our children need, blessing them for years to come.