Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a great appreciation for the early pioneers. Whether someone has pioneer ancestry or not, we can all be inspired by their sacrifices and dedication.
However, in today’s modern society, it may seem hard to instill in your family the values so embedded in the pioneer lifestyle. Here are some ideas on how you can help your child have a pioneering spirit.
We don’t use the word zeal very much anymore, but it is a great one! It means to have great energy and enthusiasm. The pioneers faced their journey west to Zion with a zeal that astounds us today. As we look at what they were asked to do, we find ourselves wondering if we ever could have done it with such focus and determination.
Children already have a great amount of energy. It is all about giving that energy a purpose. The pioneers were able to have zeal because they had a cause to believe in, a righteous goal that drove them forward. You can help your child have zeal by guiding them to what they are passionate about. Let them try lots of different things and explore their talents.
Be an example in their lives by still pursuing your own dreams and goals. By watching you become excited about what you love, they will learn the joy of working hard with zeal.
The pioneers endured unthinkable trials, including extreme physical and emotional pain. Notwithstanding their weaknesses and their own humanity, it is easy to see they had great courage in the midst of adversity. They kept their faces towards Zion and never gave up.
You can inspire fortitude in your family by helping them discover how to solve or endure problems on their own. It is easy to want to fix everything and provide all of the answers. However, children miss the opportunity to build character if we jump in right away. Be there for them, but help them think through problems and come up with solutions on their own. Honor their choices as far as you are able.
Having fortitude doesn’t mean we aren’t vulnerable! Make sure to remind your children that even though they may have courage, that doesn’t mean they can’t express emotion or pretend something isn’t wrong.
In the midst of everything, the pioneers always worked to support one another. Even after arriving to the Salt Lake Valley, the Saints were willing to give up so much of what they had to help those still struggling to arrive. In fact, Brigham Young spoke powerfully to the Saints about service:
“I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains. And attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, or temporal duties. Otherwise, your faith will be in vain.”
Give your children opportunities to serve in the home and outside of it. Whether you have time to do larger service projects every month or small acts of kindness each day, try to help your family see the joy that comes with service, even if it is hard to do.
More than any other trait, the pioneers were known for the grace with which they sacrificed so much. Time and time again, they gave up all they had for the greater blessings of God. We can follow in their footsteps by being willing to to submit to God and consecrate all we have to him.
To help your family understand sacrifice, it is important to start with a list of what you have in abundance. It could be your time, it could be toys, it could be a talent in making funeral potatoes. Consider how you can give up some of these things to bless others. This will make it easier to sacrifice that which you might not have in abundance in the future.
The spirit of the pioneers is available to us today. By studying their lives and striving to follow their examples, we can face the trials of our day as modern pioneers.