Devotional addresses parenting lessons from God


A professor from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering reminded students of God’s unrestrained and parental love for them in the June 10 Devotional at the de Jong Concert Hall.

The address was offered by professor Brent Nelson, who has taught at BYU since 1996. He became the computer engineering program head in 2003. 

Nelson said church members have privileged knowledge and a greater understanding of God’s love through his prophets.

Brent Nelson, BYU professor since 1996 and program head of the computer engineering program since 2003. Nelson discusses how parents can receive parenting advice from God.  (BYU/Photo)
Brent Nelson, BYU professor since 1996 and program head of the computer engineering program since 2003. Nelson discussed how parents can pattern God’s parenting characteristics during the June 10 devotional. (BYU/Photo)

“Many in the world today deny the divinity of man. They claim that we are merely the victors in a biological race for superiority of the species,” Nelson said. “But I testify that, through holy prophets, God has revealed that there is a purpose to our lives as his children. We should all rejoice in this knowledge that we have. But we should realize that not all people have it.”

Having been both a parent of earthly children and a child of heavenly parents, Nelson focused his remarks around four insights he has learned as a mortal parent and as a child of immortal parents.

The first insight Nelson shared was this: Children grow up to be like their parents, and that applies to us.

Just as children grow up to take on similarities from their parents, we can chose to become like our Heavenly Father.

“If God is my father, then I am in the process of growing up to become like him if I so choose,” Nelson said. “We have been taught that is the purpose of this life — to ultimately live the kind of life that God lives.”

Nelson added that what we want for our children mimics that of what God wants for us, and that is the reason for God’s commandments.

“Have you ever thought about the purpose of the commandments?” Nelson asked. “As a father, what do I want for my children? I hope it has some similarities with what Heavenly Father wants for me. I know that every night when I pray for my children I pray for their safety, their happiness and their growth. And I believe that is precisely why our Father in Heaven has given us commandments.”

The second insight Nelson shared focused on the consequences of disobedience.

He told a story about how one of his children was disciplined in school, and instead of feeling anger or frustration, Nelson said he felt disappointment and sorrow.

“At that moment I just wanted to take my child into my arms and tell him how much I loved him and how badly I felt that he had not lived up to his potential and had fallen short,” Nelson said. “Then it hit me — ‘Could this possibly be how my Father in Heaven feels about me when I make mistakes — that He is disappointed and sad?'”

Nelson answered his own question by adding that the experience gave him a glimpse into the infinite love God has for him, even though he was often wayward.

The third insight Nelson shared was how Heavenly Father offers divine help through challenges.

Drawing from personal experience, Nelson shared how he and his wife enrolled all of their children in piano lessons at some point in their lives. His children didn’t always see playing the piano as a positive and growing experience, but none of them ever expressed regret for learning to play; in fact, each expressed gratitude for their experience at one time or another.

“Does our Father in Heaven give us specific experiences — sometimes challenging ones?” Nelson asked. “Does He ask us to do things because they will be for our own good? I believe that absolutely everything Heavenly Father asks us to do is because it will be for our own good.”

Nelson’s final insight was that God is mindful of every single one of his children and provides tender mercies as a result.

He emphasized that it is in a parent’s nature to want to help their children and that as a parent he tried to provide a variety of experiences.

“As a father, I am always watching my children, and at times I try to provide help,” Nelson said. “This help comes in a variety of forms, from advice to providing for their physical needs. But at some times it seems that what my children need most is simply encouragement, to know they are loved and that we as their parents are there to help.”

Nelson concluded his remarks with his testimony, expressing his love for God and the wisdom of his plan.

“I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has designed the Plan of Salvation to become ‘the Great Plan of Happiness’ for each of us,” Nelson said. “May we each learn to better qualify for and recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives.”





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