We can learn a lot about families by observing how one car owner has learned to care for his car and what he learned from his father about caring for a family. Our car owner is named Ben. Ben knew the importance of a finely tuned car. His father, a master mechanic, had taught him this principle. His father often quoted a wise man, Elder M. Russell Ballard, from a conversation about family councils saying, “No matter how beautiful the paint or comfortable [the interior,] a car with an engine that is not operating as it should is just a shell of unrealized potential.” Elder Ballard also taught that cars will go farther and faster and will run smoother when they are tuned properly. Ben also knew families operated more efficiently upon similar principles; they need regular fine tuning, maintenance and check-ups to catch problems early. He understood this because he had observed his father over the years of his life. His father was an amazing mechanic but even better, he was a loving, thoughtful and wise leader in their home. He observed much of this by his father’s practice of holding regular family councils. They had become a very important part of his week. He had felt and seen so many benefits from this simple practice. Ben learned that family councils are beneficial to families because they help invite a powerful, spiritual, synergistic cooperation amongst family members and they teach everyone the importance and sacredness of being part of a family government system.
Similar to how regular tune-ups for cars help them to run smoothly and efficiently, regularly-held family councils invite a powerful spiritual synergism and cooperation into families, helping them to run smoothly and powerfully.
Holding regular family councils was one of the ways my single-parent mother solved our family’s problems. I remember feeling motivated to help move the solutions forward because we were made an important part of the planning and problem-solving process. Our input was taken seriously. Now that I have my own family and invite my children to be a part of the planning and problem-solving process, I see and feel that powerful spiritual synergism within my own family. Cooperation is much more likely when children have a say in what happens. Elder M. Russell Ballard illustrated this very point when he said, “Parents need to involve all family members in dealing with challenges and adversity … that way, the power of the family council is put to work … when council members feel they are part of a decision, they become supporters and specific positive results can be accomplished.” Something miraculous happens within my family when everyone is included in planning and solving our problems with God’s help– the sum is equal to something far greater than its parts.
Family councils teach everyone the importance and sacredness of being part of a governing family system. We here at Big Ocean Women believe that God organized families to be one of the critical and central parts of a happy, thriving community and world. Just like an automobile, a family needs constant care in order to function in the way God designed it to. In our home, family councils are where we talk about family and individual needs, solve problems, evaluate our progress for the week, make decisions, plan daily schedules, share each other’s challenges, plan vacations and activities, and help our family stay on track with our spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical goals. In short, our family council meetings are one of the most important moving parts of helping our family move forward and progress together, a place where “the rubber hits the road,” so to speak.
I love a good car show. I love beautiful cars! But a beautiful car is “just a shell of unrealized potential,” if it is not tuned and working properly. There is nothing more frustrating to me as a parent than when our beautiful family is not functioning as well as I know we can. There is also nothing as exciting to me as when our family is functioning and working together as God designed us to do. For us, family councils are where the rubber hits the road, where everyone and everything synergizes and comes together, and where everyone feels the love and wisdom of the divinely-ordained family governing system.