Family Resources

“Authority,” Family Home Evening Resource Book (1997), 175

“Authority,” Family Home Evening Resource Book, 175


We believe that every man should be honored in his station.
Doctrine and Covenants 134:6


God gives man authority for his guidance and protection. Without it there would be no order or freedom. God has commanded us to respect the authority of home, church, and community.


Lesson 1: How Those in Authority Help Us

You may wish to tell the following story:

As one family was traveling late at night, they were followed by a car that repeatedly tried to run them off the road. The father succeeded in reaching the next town where he pulled into a service station, called the police, and explained what was happening.

The police suggested that the family start out again. They said they would have officers follow and arrest the offenders if they repeated their attempts. The family dreaded to start out into the lonely desert with someone following with intent to harm them, but they trusted the police to protect them. A few miles out of town the same car attempted to run them off the road, but this time a police car appeared out of the darkness with its flashing lights and sirens.

The officers arrested the men in the car, who had been running many tourists off the road and robbing them. The family gratefully and peacefully went on their way.

After telling the story, divide a large sheet of paper into three columns (see chart below). In the first column list people who have some kind of authority (such as parents, bishops, principals, and mayors). Ask your family where each of those listed gets his authority, and write the answers opposite the appropriate name in column two (parents are authorized by God, bishops are called of God by those having authority, principals are hired by school boards, mayors are elected by the people).

  • According to the Lord, how should we treat those in authority?

For answers to column three, (1) Parents: read Exodus 20:12 and place the word “honor” opposite parents, (2) Church leaders: read the following by President Joseph F. Smith: “If you will honor the Holy Priesthood in yourself first, you will honor it in those who preside over you” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], p. 165), (3) Other leaders: read Doctrine and Covenants 134:6.

Explain to your family that to honor means to obey, esteem, support, and sustain. Discuss some specific ways that we can honor each of the groups of leaders listed on this chart.

Person in authority

Source of authority

Lord’s instructions




Bishops or church leaders



Principal or school leaders

School board


Mayor or community leaders

The people


Ask family members to list things that each of the groups of people in authority on the chart do to help us. Encourage them to tell experiences of times when those in authority helped them.

Lesson 2: How We Can Respect Authority

Have the family describe what a day would be like without the leaders listed on the chart presented above in lesson 1. Consider the chaos of one day in your home without parental guidance, one Sunday without ward leaders, one day at school without teachers or a principal, and one day in your community without police or firemen. Contrast it with the peace and order that results when authority is present and is respected.

Conclude that Heavenly Father has given us leaders with authority to protect, guide, teach, and bless our lives.

Lesson 3: Learning More about Those in Authority in Your Community

Prepare your family to attend a meeting of your city council, a session of a court, or a session of some other governmental body. Before the visit ask your family to notice how those in authority interact with the other participants. Afterward discuss how those involved in the council meeting or trial seemed to feel about authority—how they did or did not respect it.

Lesson 4: Resisting Pressures to Disrespect Those in Authority

Invite a community, school, or church leader to your home to explain his responsibilities and duties. Have him tell how he can be more effective when people respect his authority.

Role-play some situations that members of your family may encounter when they are being pressured to disobey teachers, priesthood leaders, and others in authority. Help them plan ahead to have the courage to respect the authority of their leaders.

Lesson 5: Respecting Leaders, Even When They Are Not Perfect

Relate the following story by Elder Boyd K. Packer and ask family members what it teaches about authority.

“On one occasion he [Karl G. Maeser] was going with a group of young missionaries across the alps. They were crossing a high mountain pass on foot. There were long sticks stuck into the snow of the glacier to mark the path so that travelers could find their way safely across the glacier and down the mountain on the other side.

“When they reached the summit, Brother Maeser wanted to teach the young elders a lesson. He stopped at the pinnacle of the mountain and pointed to those sticks that they had followed. And he said, ‘Brethren, behold the priesthood of God. They are just common old sticks, but it’s the position that counts. Follow them and you will surely be safe. Stray from them and you will surely be lost.’ And so it is in the Church. We are called to leadership positions and given the power of the priesthood. And we are just common old sticks, but the position we are given counts. It is separate and apart from us, but while we hold it, we hold it.” (“It Is the Position That Counts,” New Era, June 1977, p. 51.)

Discuss with your family whether we are obligated to respect the authority of someone we do not like as a person. As you discuss this question, help your family recognize that our leaders, who are not perfect, will be more successful when we respect and support them. Talking against them and failing to sustain them only makes them less effective.

Tell the following story:

Brother Taylor was a shy man. He had a strong testimony of the gospel, but he was not very confident about discussing it with others. He had never finished high school and felt embarrassed that his knowledge of the scriptures was lacking. He was assigned as home teacher to several families. He visited them faithfully every month and made extra visits at birthdays, in times of illness, and whenever he felt he could be of help.

Then Brother Taylor was assigned to visit a new family in the ward. After his first visit, the family discussed their new home teacher.

“What a strange man,” remarked Sister Brown.

“Yes,” laughed the oldest son. “I thought I’d die when he kept mispronouncing words in that scripture he read.”

“I can even read better than that,” added nine-year-old Susan.

“I doubt we can expect much help from him,” concluded Brother Brown.

Ask the following questions:

  • How will this family’s attitude weaken Brother Taylor as a home teacher?

  • What are some ways they could sustain him that would also strengthen him?

Discuss possible ways of handling the following situations:

  1. Your parents have asked you not to do something that you want to do very much. They think it is unsafe, but many of your friends have done it.

  2. You do not enjoy your present priesthood adviser. He is never well prepared and is not an interesting teacher.

  3. Your new bishop isn’t easy to talk to. You wish he were more like your former bishop who was friendly to everyone.

Have someone read the following quotation and discuss why we need to learn respect for authority at home:

“Disregard of law and authority under the parental roof, leads inevitably to utter disregard and contempt for all law, authority, and restraint” (Millennial Star, 5 Apr. 1868, p. 258).

For help with respecting parental authority, see lesson 19, “The Priesthood in Our Home,” and lesson 20, “A House of Order,” in the “Lessons” section of this manual.



Matthew 5:44 (Love your enemies and pray for them.)

Doctrine and Covenants 134 (A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws.)

See also “Authority” in the Topical Guide.

Songs and Hymn

“Kindness Begins with Me,” Children’s Songbook, p. 145.

“Jesus Said Love Everyone,” Children’s Songbook, p. 61.

“Nay, Speak No Ill,” Hymns, no. 233.