Fathers play an important role in our lives. They watch over us, guide us, teach us and protect us. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church— leaders have taught:
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. 
Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of [divine] appointment….
You preside at the meal table, at family prayer. You preside at family home evening; and as guided by the Spirit of the Lord, you see that your children are taught correct principles. It is your place to give direction relating to all of family life. 
With this in mind, I’d like to talk about a couple of fathers who are famous to members of The Church of Jesus Christ—and one who’s famous to me.
My dad isn’t famous to the world, but he’s famous to me. Through his loving example, I can understand the concept of a loving Father in Heaven. My dad is the standard by which all of my dates—as well as my future husband—were measured. I always knew that my dad loved me, my siblings and my mom. He made sure I knew I was beautiful, special and loved. He was devoted to his family, and we knew it.
My dad read scriptures to us every morning and made sure we had family prayer and family home evenings. (Family home evenings are usually Monday nights, and it’s a time set aside for families to get together to learn about the gospel and have fun.) He took us on hikes down into caves, up to fire lookout towers, and every place in between. He came to almost every orchestra concert, choir concert, play, wrestling match and awards ceremony that any of his 8 kids participated in. He only missed an event if he was out of town. No place was too far for him to go. He and I drove 2 hours one way to watch my brother’s wrestling match. I still remember the look on his face when I told him I was leaving for college two months earlier than expected—and he realized he wouldn’t be able to take me. He sadly said, “I was really looking forward to driving you out to college.” It had never occurred to me that my dad actually wanted to drive the more than 1,000 miles to drop me off at school. He made the cross-country trip to watch me graduate with my associate’s degree, and then made it again when I received my bachelor’s. When my dad comes to visit me and my family, he takes us fishing and hiking. Even though I am grown up and married with 4 kids of my own, he still puts the worm on the hook for me and takes the fish off the line. That’s what dads do. And that’s why we have a special day to honor them.
The Father of our Ward (or Congregation)
Along with my dad, there were other father figures who have touched my life over the years. Bishop Meyers was one of those men. He was the presiding priesthood authority of our ward (or local congregation) through my high school years—akin to a pastor or preacher in other churches. (The priesthood is the power and authority of God given to worthy male members of The Church of Jesus Christ to act in His name for the salvation of His children.) I looked up to Bishop Meyers. More importantly, I knew he cared about me and wanted the best for me.
Just as fathers preside over their families, bishops preside over their wards. They are the “father” of the ward, and watch over their flocks with the same love and care that they watch over their families. There is no professional clergy in the Church. Bishops are called to serve, and most do so for a period of about five years. The late President Gordon B. Hinckley, then president of The Church of Jesus Christ, said in 2003:
We have more than 18,000 bishops in the Church. Every one is a man who has been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and set apart and ordained by the laying on of hands. … Each carries tremendous responsibilities of stewardship. Each stands as a father to his people. 
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). Elder Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught that “apt to teach” has a special meaning. “Apt means ‘inclined, ready, prepared.’”  He said:
In all the world there is nothing quite like the office of bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Except for parents, the bishop has the best opportunity to teach and to cause to be taught the things that matter most. And a bishop has the remarkable opportunity to teach parents about their responsibility; then he must allow them time to teach their children. The bishop is responsible for the [youth]. … He is responsible for the temporal affairs of the Church, to seek out the poor, and he has many other duties. The bishop … is to counsel and correct and to preach the gospel to his flock, individually and collectively. 
In talking to the bishops of The Church of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley said:
You must be men of integrity. You must stand as examples to the congregations over which you preside. You must stand on higher ground so that you can lift others. …You must be their counselor, their comforter, their anchor and strength in times of sorrow and trouble. You must be strong with that strength which comes from the Lord. You must be wise with that wisdom which comes from the Lord. Your door must be open to hear their cries and your back strong to carry their burdens, your heart sensitive to judge their needs, your godly love broad enough and strong enough to encompass even the wrongdoer and the critic. You must be a man of patience, willing to listen and striving to understand. You are the only one to whom some can turn. You must be there when every other source has failed. 
Reaching Out in Our Time of Need
In The Church of Jesus Christ, bishops aren’t famous for their names. They are famous because, like the Savior—or rather, for the Savior—they stand watch over their congregations. They are called of God to watch over His sheep. They are His servants, doing His work. Bishops are there to help in times of need—sometimes before ward members ask. My husband and I had one such experience with a bishop who came to our rescue in a time of utter desperation.
When my husband and I bought our first house, we decided to do a little remodeling on it. As we started the project, it snowballed into something bigger than we could handle. We were living with my parents some 30 minutes away until the house was finished, and I was 9 months pregnant with our second child. My husband had just started a new job, and he had to do most of the work on the house by himself. One night—about a month into what was supposed to be a two-month remodel—we were sitting in the house and he said, “I can’t do this. I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know how to do the work. We can’t afford to pay contractors. We need to just sell the house as is and take a loss.” Right then, someone knocked on our door. It was the bishop, who lived across the street, tools in hand. He said, “I see that you’re doing some work on your house. This is one of my hobbies. Would you like some help?” We hadn’t even been to the ward yet. Bishop Barton spent the next five months working with my husband to hang drywall, sand and varnish the wood floors, replace light fixtures and spackle the ceilings. And when needed, Bishop Barton enlisted the help of others in the ward. In December—six months after we started our remodel project—we finally moved into our home. Without the help of an inspired bishop, we could never have completed the work. Although we only lived in the house for a year, we are eternally grateful for Lord’s servant who lifted us in our time of need.
Our Father in Heaven
In The Church of Jesus Christ, there is no Father more famous than God, the Father of our spirits. All members of the human family are His children. It is through His grand plan, His divine design that we are here upon the earth. Of Him, modern Apostles have written:
The title father is sacred and eternal. It is significant that of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father. 
In speaking of our Heavenly Father, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, said:
I bear personal witness this day of a personal, living God, who knows our names, hears and answers prayers, and cherishes us eternally as children of His spirit. I testify that amidst the wondrously complex tasks inherent in the universe, He seeks our individual happiness and safety above all other godly concerns. We are created in His very image and likeness, and Jesus of Nazareth, His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, came to earth as the perfect mortal manifestation of His grandeur. 
Thus, our Father in Heaven set the pattern for our fathers here on earth. It is truly humbling that the most famous Father in all of the heavens knows us thoroughly, and loves each and every one of us. We can talk to Him anytime, anywhere in heartfelt and sincere prayer. He has sent us on a journey to earth with a roadmap to guide us back to Him. That roadmap consists of the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which are found in the scriptures as well as the teachings of the modern prophets.
I am grateful to my father, my Heavenly Father and the other father figures who have helped me and guided me throughout my life. I’m also grateful for the father of my children—my husband—who takes his role as husband and father as a serious and sacred obligation. Our children can (and do) look to him as a standard for their actions. As Father’s Day approaches, may we all remember the famous fathers in our lives—those who are famous to all and those who are famous to us personally. The chorus of a children’s song titled “Fathers” sums up their role in our lives:
Fathers are so special with a very special love.
They watch us and protect us.
They guide us and direct us
Back to our home above.