BETA

Alma gives parents a pattern for effective communication

At the October 1983 general conference, Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke of Alma's interview with Helaman. (Alma 45:2-8.)

"It is a short, three-question, forty-five-second exchange between father and son. According to the record, Alma was approaching the end of his ministry. He knew that he must select someone to assume prophetic and record-keeping responsibilities. Helaman was his choice. Therefore, Alma came to his son and asked: Believest thou the words which I spake unto thee concerning those records which have been kept?'"Without hesitation, Helaman answered:Yea, I believe.' He might have said, `Yes, I believe in the scriptures; and yes, I believe all that you have taught me.'

"Alma's second question was simply: Believest thou in Jesus Christ, who shall come?' Again, without delay, Helaman states,Yea, I believe all the words which thou hast spoken.'

"What a tribute to the father! He had talked of Christ, rejoiced in Christ, preached of Christ, and taught his son to know the source to which he might look for a remission of his sins. (See 2 Ne. 25:26.)

"Up to this point in the interview, the father's questions were sampling the son's basic beliefs. Now it was essential that those beliefs be tested and determined as being more than idle lip service. Alma's capstone inquiry was, `Will ye keep my commandments?'

"I am not certain what went through Helaman's mind . . . . He knew the necessity of honoring his parents and respecting priesthood authority. His previous actions had verified this fact. I like to think that Helaman's reply was promoted by a heart-felt desire to be obedient rather than by a fear of authority. Deep love of God and father were reflected in his words: `Yea, I will keep thy commandments with all my heart.'

"It is a marvelous thing when a father is able to make his commandments square perfectly with God's expectations. Apparently, this condition was achieved by Alma, for Helaman was ready and willing to obey.

"This short, informative, and inspiring interview must have pleased Alma greatly. Not only had he communicated heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul with his son, but the son had openly declared his faith and pledged his devotion. To culminate the exchange, Alma, under the inspiration of the Spirit, prophesied and extended this blessing: `Blessed art thou; and the Lord shall prosper thee in this land.'

"I find it significant that the father came to the son; the son was not summoned to stand inspection or to give a report. I find it refreshing that the conversation was direct and without any verbal sparring; it was not labored or rehearsed. I find it exemplary that commitment was drawn without prying, wringing, or pressuring. And I find it most beautiful that the father concluded with a tender blessing."