News Release

What My Father Taught Me

Reflections on Father’s Day

Newsroom staff recently sat down with Elder David C. Stewart, who was named a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the April 2020 general conference. He now serves in the Tenth Quorum and is responsible for the North America Central Area, Calgary and Lethbridge co-ordinating councils. He and his wife, Karri Hill Stewart, were invited to share their thoughts about Father’s Day.

Tell us about an important lesson you learned from your father.

Elder Stewart: Dad believes in the value of hard work. He tells the story of coming in one afternoon, after being out on a tractor tilling the field, to hear his father talking to his uncle. His dad said, “I didn’t have any work for the boys today, so I put them to work re-tilling that field we tilled last week.” He learned then how much his father valued hard work. My father also values individuality. My brother Gerry tried out for (and was cut from) every junior high sports team. He wanted to do something physical but didn’t have “what it took.” My dad noticed that Gerry could run quite well and didn’t ever seem to get tired. So, Dad had him try running longer distances, and it turned out that Gerry was good at that. He was about 70th in the province in his grade 10 year and was the bronze medallist in his grade 12 year. Gerry went on to run for the University of Alberta cross country and track and field teams, as well as the University of Calgary cross country running team, until he passed away in 2003. Dad saw that Gerry had a skill in an area and helped him develop it.

Sister Stewart: While I always knew my father loved me, I remember one experience where he and I disagreed. I was in my mid-teens. I promptly left home and went to visit some friends. We were about to head to the beach when my dad came around the corner in the family station wagon. He got out of the car and apologized. I was so shocked, amazed and appreciative of his efforts to seek forgiveness.

How do you mark Father's Day in your home?

Sister Stewart: Father’s Day in our home is always a lot of fun. When our children were young, they loved showering their dad with gifts. Most of those gifts were handmade, and Elder Stewart would always wear the outrageous tie or finger-painted hat to church that Sunday. He wore it happily, and whoever had created it was so pleased.

Elder Stewart: When our children were younger, there was a “breakfast in bed” made by the kids. Now that they are grown, we just have a nice meal with family who are in the area.

What messages would you like to communicate to fathers across Canada?

Elder Stewart: Effort is what is important. Your efforts matter. Keep trying to make a difference. Just as Gerry found one area where he could succeed, you should continue to search for ways of succeeding as a father or father figure. As you make consistent efforts and are genuine in your desire to love and help, those efforts will pay off.

Sister Stewart: Fathers have the opportunity to be a source of confidence, stability and fun for their posterity. Grandfathers can do this as well! Father figures anywhere can help those around them feel secure and safe.

Not everyone has a strong relationship with their father. Do you have any words of counsel for people who might struggle on Father’s Day?

Sister Stewart: Holidays like Father’s Day have the inclination to make people feel disappointed or insecure when their situation doesn’t look like a Hallmark card. The reality is that everyone has a different story to tell and experiences to share about their father. I hope that each person can take security in the fact that they have a loving Heavenly Father, who is concerned about them and knows them. Difficulties in relationships are common as we navigate this life. But there is always hope in the Saviour’s atonement and the opportunity for reconciliation as time passes. Elder Christofferson said, “Wherever you rank your own father on the scale of good-better-best (and I predict that ranking will go higher as you grow older and wiser), make up your mind to honor him and your mother by your own life” (“Fathers,” April 2016 general conference).

Elder Stewart: Do your best to be kind. You do not need to put yourself in an unsafe situation (physically, spiritually or emotionally); however, you will not regret being as kind as you can be. If you are not close to your father, pray for him or learn about his parents and grandparents. Perhaps the way you honour your father is by honouring the mutual ancestry you have together.

What important lesson have you learned from your Heavenly Father?

Elder Stewart: He sees potential in all of us and is not afraid to ask us to do hard things that cause us to grow and stretch. But He is also kind. He is able to provide little miracles daily if we look for them.

Sister Stewart: When I was a young girl, I had an aunt who was very special to me. I remember one evening listening to her pray. As she prayed and addressed our Heavenly Father, I knew without a doubt that He was real. From that moment, I have felt security in knowing that no matter what is happening in my life, and despite difficulties and disappointments, my Heavenly Father is there and aware of me. He is the best example of a father that we have, and He wants the very best for each of us. His love is a perfect love, and we can trust in that at all times.

Read the article in French.

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