When I was young, my father was continually in leadership positions and a real stickler for protocol. As a result, we were disciplined and managed well, especially at church.

We were under the threat of death (well, sort of) to NEVER leave Sacrament Meeting in order to go to the bathroom. We MUST go before or hold it until after. I was NEVER allowed to leave the meeting for any reason. My father had me convinced it was rude to other people to do so, the opposite of reverence, out of line with the tone of the meeting, offensive to the Spirit and to Jesus Christ personally.

He grudgingly accepted that small children may need to be hauled out of the meeting for necessities sake, but he wasn’t happy about it.

So, when I saw adults leave the meeting, sometimes more than once in one hour, I would ask, “But Daddy, how come they are leaving the meeting?!?” He would hiss down at me, “Because they can’t control themselves!”

Well, I naturally observed these people very closely. I wanted to know what people that couldn’t control themselves looked like.


In our most recent Ward Conference in an address to the adults the Stake President told us what the number one thing on top Church leader’s minds was. He paused dramatically and then told us “Reverence.” Reverence was being described as respect and love. (If I remember correctly.)

Reverence is a problem, no matter how you define it.

What should we do about it?

What can we do about it?

What Members Can and Should Do

I’m assuming that reverence being defined as respect and love that love would go upwards as well as downwards. That would mean love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as well as love for other people and respect and love for leaders.

My list is not exhaustive. I’m sure things could be added.
  • Take care of necessities before or after the meeting so you don’t have to leave it. By not disrupting meetings, you show love and respect.
  • Train your children to be respectful during meetings, as much as you can.
  • Train your children to love and respect the meetinghouse by not littering, treating the facilities with care, and being respectful of others' presence.
  • Model reverence by confining energetic discussions to the foyer. Greet people quietly.
  • Arrive early and sit quietly and reflect, especially before the meeting starts.
  • Not talk during the meeting and listen attentively, especially to speakers and leaders.
I’m not certain if my father was the instigator of this practice, but I think it was effective. As a kid, we could not color, read, or do anything during the meeting until AFTER the Sacrament was passed and concluded. Then, we were allowed our quiet Sacrament Meeting activities.

In addition, we were instructed to keep our arms folded during the administration of the Sacrament unless we were physically partaking and/or the administration was concluded.

What this accomplished was that even as a small child, it was impressed on me that there was something very special about the administration of the Sacrament. For decades after that, I was in the habit of folding my arms for the duration of the Sacrament.

I cannot in good conscience lecture people on how to keep their children quiet in church. However, I do think my brother hit on a good idea.

Instead of taking his little boy who was acting up in the meeting to the foyer to play (a reward for misbehaving), he would haul him out of the meeting … to the kitchen. While leaving the lights off, he would set up a chair facing a wall, and put the kid in a stranglehold in his lap while they both stared at the wall for a while. The mere threat of being taken out of the meeting was enough to make the little guy behave.

For people with children, arriving early may strain the kids’ ability to endure for long without acting up. This is the parents’ call. For the rest of us, we can enter the meeting early enough to sit, reflect, and practice reverence so we are ready for the Spirit to reach us.

We can confine our chatter to more appropriate times and places during the church time frame. We certainly can greet and acknowledge people, but we should do so quietly, in keeping with reverence.

What Teachers Can and Should Do

Teachers could show reverence by respecting and loving one’s class members while respecting and loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
  • Loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would mean that a teacher would put their whole heart and soul into teaching the gospel the best they can. Loving class members would mean doing everything they can to teach them with the Spirit and in a way that would be most likely to reach them.
  • Being well-prepared, to teach as well as in tune with the Spirit through careful preparation can achieve a great deal. Having the classroom and any materials prepared ahead of time also helps.
  • Music can help set a reverent mood. This can be done in several ways. You can easily play music from audio files downloaded onto a flash drive over a church television. It works better than playing it on your phone. Trust me on this.
  • Teachers often set a casual or respectful/reverent atmosphere in how they teach. Chatter, laughter, casualness, and other light-mindedness are not particularly helpful in evoking reverence from anyone. It sets the wrong tone when it comes from the teacher.
What Leadership Can and Should Do

Administering the Church in a way that evokes respect and love for members as well as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ could include the following.
  • Achieve a balance between formality and informality while conducting. Too little warmth and too much laughter aren’t respectful.
  • Work to be well-organized in conducting the Lord’s affairs on earth.
  • Be as efficient and effective as possible in what you are charged with doing.
  • Try and see people the way Heavenly Father sees them, a bundle of potential that can lead to becoming deity like our Heavenly parents.
  • Try to discharge and do one’s calling to the best of one’s ability. This would include carefully following scripture and the Handbook as well as local policy and procedure.

Showing love and respect for others could include so much. I hope the few ideas I’ve shared can inspire more in your own mind that you implement in your own life.

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