For Generations to Come…

“I am so grateful for the gifts of my mother, teaching me to follow Jesus Christ, and giving me a desire to love and to serve. I was born of the love and sacrifice of my parents, and that meant pain for Mom in giving me life. As a man, I will never fully understand the meaning of God’s word to Mother Eve, ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children’ (Genesis 3:16). So it has been for my sweet love Monica in bearing our children, and the loves of my sons, and my daughter. Bringing little ones into the world is a heavy burden to bear, but oh how grateful I am for life, for mine, and that of my siblings, my children and grandchildren. I am grateful for the mothers in my life, setting our feet on the path to follow Christ, that generations might benefit from their sweet devotion. May we show equal dedication, that the sacrifice of our mothers not be met with anything less.”

Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 11 May 2024

What are we doing, or not doing, today that will affect the generations to come? That is something important to ask ourselves with some frequency. It is sometimes easy to lose track of where we are, where we are going. When we think it is only affecting us, ourselves, it is easy to let things slide a little. But, when we think about how it might affect our children, and our children’s children, then we see more clearly the positive or grave consequences of actions, or inactions, of today.

Anciently there lived a man named Zeniff, who became king over a people who settled in a land controlled by an historic enemy. Zeniff had a positive outlook on what his future would bring when he lead his people into the land. He thought to coexist peacefully with a proven enemy, not because God inspired him to make peace, but as he later admitted, he had been “over-zealous” (Mosiah 9:3) to inherit the land, and this clouded his judgment.

It is easy to predict how this turned out. The enemy king deceived the overzealous Zeniff into believing that he had made a fair deal to live in peace. To the contrary, he led his people into a life of war in defense of freedom. The next generation suffered the consequences. Eventually, they became a wicked people led by Zeniff’s own tyrannical son. By the third generation many were slain and the remainder subjected to servitude and near slavery, Zeniff’s grandchildren falling under the rule and will of the wicked.

In his own lifetime Zeniff clearly recognized to some extent the error of his ways, as he wrote of himself in his own record that he was “over-zealous.” I suspect that his use of the term was a sign of regret and foreboding in the future that was awaiting the generations to follow, but the die was cast, and the course of actions that were set in motion would come to an inevitable conclusion, based upon erred uninspired judgment clouded by personal desire.

One day as we are revisiting the course of our lifetimes, writing our own records, will we give an account of regret, where we let down the succeeding generation by clouded judgment? Will we instead be able to record unselfish choices made by inspiration, Sabbath Days kept holy, and Christ’s teachings guiding our homes? I am sure we will all have both regrets and rejoicings to record. That is why repentance is such a wonderful gift.

Elder David A. Bednar

In April 2015, Elder David A. Bednar taught of how important to family is the observation of the Sabbath Day. How we observe the Sabbath and live the gospel in our own homes makes a real difference now and in the generations to come. What more important time is this, the circumstances of today, for observation of the Lord’s Sabbath and gospel living in our homes? How will we, our children and grandchildren, look back upon and record this day?

Elder Bednar taught, “In the Savior’s restored church on the earth today multi-generational families are a primary source of spiritual strength and continuity.” He compared the impacts of multi-generational families of Christian disciples to seedlings in a forest. “A tree begins as a small seed that germinates, begins to grow, and becomes a small tree. Over a period of time a young seedling develops into a mature tree and produces seeds that fall to the forest floor. As conditions are right, the new seeds germinate, begin to grow, and the cycle is renewed. Interestingly, growing trees are nourished in part by the nutrients redeposited into the soil by older and dead trees. In a similar way, multi-generational families provide the spiritual nourishment and stability that greatly increases the likelihood of sustained faithfulness across the generations… Multi-generational families are a rich source of the spiritual nutrients that are necessary to produce posterity of promise.”

It is noteworthy that the biggest disruption of Christian discipleship in the multi-generational family occurs between childhood baptism and the covenants and commitments we make in adulthood that set the patterns for family life and parenthood. Elder Bednar points out that the foremost reason such disruption occurs is “weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home. Thus, living the Savior’s gospel in the home is essential in creating and maintaining these multi-generational families.”

Over time, what will we redeposit in the coming generation to perpetuate the multi-generational family in the Lord’s kingdom on Earth? What are we doing today in this unique time, in our homes, to live the Sabbath and model gospel principles for the generations to come? Are we having family prayer? Do we sit down as a family for dinner at night? Do we spend time reading the scriptures and learning the gospel together as family? What choices do we make about entertainment in our homes? Do we participate together as family in fun and wholesome activities? What behavior do we model for our children on the Sabbath Day and every other day of the week?

Throughout my life, I have observed occasions when Sabbath Day observance was not always as I have learned it should be. In congregations in which I worship, most active attendees participate in weekly teaching opportunities of children, youth or adults, providing musical presentations, ministering, and the offering of sermons or prayers during congregational or classroom gatherings. It is a true lay ministry, and the essence of how a Sabbath Day should be spent, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, there are occasions when multiple congregations hold combined meetings that dismiss lay ministers from assigned duties and allow us to attend together the general meeting. What a blessing it is to have those opportunities to be fed spiritually in a different way from the weekly norm. Unfortunately, some see this instead as an opportunity for a vacation, where they can slip away to the beach, a theme park or to the lake. There are not very many good “keeping the Sabbath Day holy” activities at such locations to model for our children. In making our choices for Sabbath Day activities should we ask ourselves perhaps, “What better lesson could we teach our children and grandchildren? Is this the example we wish to set for future generations to remember and follow?”

What will our children learn from us now and in the days to come? Will they learn that the Sabbath can and should be observed at all hours on Sunday, both in homes and chapels, or that out for Sunday brunch on Mother’s Day, Disney vacations and Super Bowl Sunday’s are an exception to God’s law created for our benefit? Will our children learn honesty and integrity, except when we get pulled over, or there is a buck to be made? Will we model proper and polite language skills, except when we are watching a ‘good’ movie, get cut off in traffic or smash our thumb with a hammer? Will we teach our children to always tithe and give generously, or is faith and charity only for when we are making plenty of money? Will we truly live the law of chastity, even in our wardrobe and entertainment choices? Will we teach our children to forgive those who trespass against us, and then actually practice love, kindness, mercy and forgiveness ourselves?

These are the great choices and opportunities that are before us. Our children, grandchildren and the many generations to come are counting on us now to set the tone, provide the nourishment now and in the coming day, to overcome our trials, and the adversary. It is not too late. Do not be discouraged. We have today.

Let us not be overzealous to inherit things worldly at the peril of our posterity. May we avoid clouded judgement. Let us instead be guided by the Lord and His prophets, that all who come hereafter may have a path well-worn by our footprints to follow, and a fertile grove in which to grow in the light of our Redeemer’s love. May it be even as the devotion of our dear mothers committed for generations to come. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My sweet Monica at her 1996 baby shower with my dear mother Dorene Malcolm.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.