In the most recent conference President Eyring taught a truth that I wish I’d known when I was a young missionary dreaming of glory (okay, I am still pretty young). I had heard it said that we should preach to and focus on families, but I didn’t really understand it. I often glossed over the family part of lessons to skip to the restoration or plan of salvation. I thought these were far more central to the Gospel than speaking of families. But I was very wrong.
“Every priesthood effort and every priesthood ordinance is intended to help Heavenly Father’s children be changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ to become members of perfected family units. It follows that ‘the great work of every man is to believe the gospel, to keep the commandments, and to create and perfect an eternal family unit,’ and to help others do the same.
It is because our priesthood obligation is to put our families and the families of those around us at the center of our concern. Every major decision should be based on the effect it will have on a family to qualify for life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. There is nothing in our priesthood service as important as this.”
It was much easier to teach people of my age group. And in Russia women tended to be so much more receptive than men. There was more immediate gain to be had by focusing on those who could easily make the choice to convert without having to deal with family drama.
But ultimately the point of the Gospel is to seal eternal families. We are sealed as part of God and Christ’s family by the Holy Spirit of promise and as part of an earthly family through temple covenants. Though coming to Christ is an individual affair, the ultimate impact of his atonement is familial and collective.
The doctrines of the Gospel are not discreet islands or pockets of light. They are interconnected steps leading to eternal family relations with God and those we love here on earth. When we lose sight of that, we are not able to live up to our full potential as missionaries or members.