Book Reviews

The Good That Men Can Do

The lovely people at Deseret Book provided me this book to review and share with you lovely readers. All opinions are my own.

We Believe in Fathers

Elder Christofferson honors all men striving to do the best they can for their families and communities in The Good That Men Can Do, based on his talk “Fathers” given in the April 2016 General Conference. He lovingly teaches the role of men in society and in the Church and provides encouragement directly to them. In a society where men are often put down as unnecessary, incompetent, or child-like, this book’s message is a breath of fresh air.

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Fathers in My Life

For Mother’s Day I paid tribute to the women who have mothered me, I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the men who have fathered me. These men have no biological ties to me, but they have impacted my life so much as to forever change the course of it.

My 8th Grade Math Teacher, Mr. Cook

One time, Mr. Cook caught me allowing a classmate to cheat off my paper. He asked me to stay after class for a moment where he asked me about it. Rather than give me a long lecture or punish me (or my grade), he spoke to me like I had disappointed him, that he believed I could do and be better than that. Mr. Cook spoke to my potential rather than to my 8th-grade self. That day I learned that I degrade myself when I let others copy my schoolwork and that my potential is more than I realize.

My Institute Teacher, President Brassell

As I was investigating and coming into a new religion, President Brassell was there with open arms and a father’s heart to welcome me. Teaching our Wednesday evening scripture study class, he opened my eyes to the glory and practical applications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He asked questions that made me think and didn’t laugh at the novice questions I asked in return. President Brassell believed in my potential and encouraged me to ask, seek, and knock to find answers to my questions.

President Brassell also served as our stake’s first counselor. After institute class one evening, he asked to see me in his office. There, he explained what a stake conference was and extended the invitation to share my testimony during the conference. He mentored me as I prepared my remarks and calmed my increasing anxiety as I learned about the apostle that would be in attendance and, therefore, the increased stake member attendance. Each of my successes brought genuine joy to this good man and he comforted me when I failed. He truly fathered me.

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My Bishop, Bishop Solomon

After a prayer to start out mine and Adam’s meeting with him, Bishop Solomon clasped his hands together as he often did and said, “Sister, we have big plans for the ward’s Primary. And you’re part of them!” He then proceeded to call me as the Primary President of our ward. Our ward, or congregation, was compromised of young married students attending Brigham Young University-Idaho. Our Primary consisted of 18 nursery children, of which Elle was one, and 1 Sunbeam.

I had been a member of the Church for about 5 years when I was called and felt very inexperienced and inadequate to the calling. Bishop Solomon patiently taught me how to think creatively to overcome our ward’s unique Primary challenges, to love my counselors and board, and to stay focused on what truly mattered. These life lessons have stayed with me and have been added to with each calling I’ve had since then.

My Technical Writing Professor

My bachelor’s degree says “University Studies,” but a closer look at my courseload paints an editing and communications picture. I had (and still have) a special interest in the sciences, so I decided to fulfill my upper-level writing requirement with a class entitled Technical Writing. In the class, we worked individually and in groups to write instructions for wooden puzzles, business requirements and requests for fictitious business needs, and a scientific research paper amongst other things. I earned the opportunity to be an in-class mentor, one of six others who worked with our classmates to revise their papers before our professor reviewed their work.

I absolutely loved the class and felt I’d found my calling – editing for the sciences. In a mentoring session, my professor expressed his enthusiasm for my career path and encouraged me to start applying for the biggest and best internships, offering to write me whatever recommendation letters I needed. It was around this time Adam and I felt we should start trying to grow our family again and we figured a baby would be arriving around the time of the out-of-state internship. (One of my biggest “what ifs” is knowing that the baby didn’t come until 6 years later. What if I had gone through with the super cool New York internship I had wanted?) I went back and told my professor that not only would I not be pursuing an internship, but I also would be finishing my degree online, thus removing the “Professional Writing” appendage on my diploma and replacing it with “University Studies.” I could see the disappointment in his eyes. But in a voice of fatherly love, he supported my decision to grow our family and wished us the most genuine best of luck.

My professor mentored, taught, and encouraged me, but never stifled my agency. He taught me what he thought was best and nurtured my talents and potential. When I chose a different path, he showed me continued support and nurturing.

Our Home Teacher, Michael

Michael was the kind of home teacher they talk about in General Conference talks. No, not the kind that walks away because they see the single sister’s home is flooded. No, not the kind that counts a drive-by wave on the last day of the month. But the kind who comes every month and remembers the details of the family’s life, who prays for them, who comes over and teaches them how to install their very first mailbox post. Michael listened, shared, testified, and served. He encouraged us to follow the gospel path and shared insights and scriptures on how to do so. He was only ever a text away and gave us evidence time and time again that that was true. His diligence in being a source of constant support meant so much to us and continues to impact our lives. This man assigned to serve our family became family.

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The Good That Men Can Do

These good men and many more have taught me love, patience, encouragement, optimism, faith, and hope. I watched them mentor and lead in love. I heard them speak of their wives as queens and their children as their greatest blessings. Were these men perfect? No. Were they the stumbling, incompetent fools society portrays them to be? No. There are good men all around us, and I’m grateful for books like The Good That Men Can Do for encouraging such an ideal.

Thank you again to the folks at Deseret Book for sending me a copy of Elder Christofferson’s book to review. I shared it with my husband and he appreciated the reminders and encouragement contained therein. With beautiful typography and photography, I can recommend this book as a special Father’s Day gift for any man in your life striving to do and be good.

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