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Lesson 1: The Priesthood

I enjoy and am grateful for the Church’s manuals Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part A & Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B. When taking business management classes at the University, I was especially intrigued and drawn to Expectancy theory.  Applying Expectancy theory to the gospel, I desire to magnify the priesthood, which will bless the lives of my family and those I serve, while ensuring exaltation. I need to know what the priesthood is and how to magnify my callings, hence this personal study.

Lesson 1: The Priesthood 

The Spirit of the Lord was undoubtedly present as they received the priesthood by the laying on of hands from those with authority.

I remember much about of the day I was ordained an Elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Reflecting upon that day always warms the heart and brings a smile to my face. To be sure, it was one of the spiritual highlights of my life. 

Sitting on stage in the cultural hall of the church, I was surrounded by over a dozen friends and family. The officiator started by saying “let’s lighten up on the pressure, we don’t want to break his neck!”  I recall that I received council to work out physically, and metaphorically spiritually. The officiator didn’t know me, and I marveled how perfect such an  metaphor meant to me at the time because I was intensely engaged in martial arts and body building. He said I was to be a witness to the world and would have the gift of tongues. The officiator couldn’t have know such language was in my patriarchal blessing and that on two or three occasions in the past I had actually spoken to strangers to comfort them in their native tongue, which languages I did not know. He blessed me to have power in the priesthood to heal people from their sickness and afflictions, and this has come true many times. Other blessings and prophecies were pronounced, yet what I remember most was such a loving outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord, being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

The priesthood is God’s eternal power and authority. God accomplishes His work by the priesthood.

How did God get his priesthood? He was ordained by his Father, an eternal pattern.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said:  “We are the Lord’s agents; we represent him; he has given us authority which empowers us to do all that is necessary to save and exalt ourselves as well as his other children in the world.

“We are ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our commission is to represent him. We are directed … to do what he would do if he were personally present” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 47; or Ensign, June 1971, 49).

A humbling reality to know one is an agent of the Lord.

Every priesthood holder should be able to trace back to Jesus Christ his “line of authority.”

When I was ordained, the officiator handed me his line of authority. I’ve since then lost it. Because I ordained my son to the Aaronic Priesthood, it’s a good idea for me to do the research and write up my line of authority.

The source of the power of the priesthood is God, who works through the Holy Ghost. To have the Holy Ghost direct us in using the priesthood, we must keep the commandments and live worthily. Power in the priesthood comes to us only from our Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost. With the power of the priesthood, we can do the Lord’s work; without that power, we cannot.

That is as clear as can be. I’ve experienced the truth of this principle throughout my life.

“If we live for it, ours can be a power given us from our Heavenly Father that will bring peace to a troubled household. Ours can be a power that will bless and comfort little children, that will bring sleep to tearstained eyes in the wee hours of the morning. Ours can be the power that will bring happiness to a family home evening, the power to calm the unsettled nerves of a tired wife. Ours can be the power that will give direction to a confused and vulnerable teenager. Ours, the power to bless a daughter before she goes on her first date or before her temple marriage, or to bless a son before his departure for a mission or college. Ours, my young brethren, can be the power to stop evil thoughts of a group of boys gathered together in vulgar conversation. Ours can be the power to heal the sick and comfort the lonely. These are some of the important purposes of the priesthood” (H. Burke Peterson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 50–51; or Ensign, May 1976, 33).

A beautiful, endearing paragraph. What can be sweeter and more tender to a mans heart than comforting his children, or blessing his wife?

There are several things we can do to develop power in the priesthood:

  • Desire It
  • Live Righteously
  • Be Humble
  • Study
  • Pray
  • Love Others
  • Use the Priesthood to Bless and Strengthen Our Families

That is to say, one part of obtaining power in the priesthood is a decision to want or desire power; one is invited by the Lord to ask, seek and knock for such power.

1 NEPHI 1:1 – I, Nephi

1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

“I Will Go”, Bishop H. David Burton, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

Young men who hold the priesthood of Aaron, may I offer an “I will” for your serious consideration? It is I will become very well acquainted with the noble prophet Nephi through studying, pondering, and feasting upon the first two books of the Book of Mormon. My young friends, I promise that when you come to really know Nephi, you will be so impressed with his determination, courage, and desire to be obedient to the “things the Lord commands” that you will have a strong desire to incorporate his attributes into your own lives. Then when you are tempted by the adversary, as you may be nearly every day, to deviate from the counsel of the prophets, the wishes of your parents, or what “the Lord commands,” you can immediately have the words of stalwart Nephi automatically come to your mind: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” (1 Ne. 3:7). And when someone with whom you associate suggests you participate in something that is not as “the Lord commands,” you can think of the courageous plea Nephi made to his elder brothers: “Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord” (1 Ne. 3:16).

I am aware of a group of courageous young men who followed the example of Nephi. After winning a baseball state championship for their age group, their team, made up mostly of Aaronic Priesthood holders, was invited to represent their state in a tournament to be held in a distant location. Upon arriving at the tournament site, they learned that some of the games were scheduled to be played on the Sabbath day. Each of these young men had to make a difficult personal decision: would he support the team, including several nonmember team members; or if scheduled on Sunday, would he follow what “the Lord commands” in keeping the Sabbath day holy? Their honoring the Sabbath day could mean the team would forfeit their chances of winning the tournament. One by one they quietly approached the coaches, and following the example of Nephi they independently chose to decline participation on the Sabbath day. As it turned out, when Sunday arrived the team’s record, coupled with adverse weather conditions, interrupted the schedule. I have had occasion to closely follow these young men over the years. They have continued to pattern their lives after the sterling example of Nephi. They have gone on missions, and they continue to strive to do and say what the Lord has commanded. [read more]