General Conference Training Workshop
By Charles W. Dahlquist II
Young Men General President
My brethren, we welcome you to this leadership training workshop. I am grateful to two noble counselors who epitomize everything that a counselor should be: wise, kind, supportive and always seeking to do those things that will allow them to have the Spirit with them. It is my blessing to serve with such great and inspired men as President Burgess and President Neider, as well as the members of the Young Men general board—each of whom it may be said, as of Moroni and Helaman, “Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ.”
I also express my love and gratitude to each of you for your tireless and unselfish service to the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood. Your presence here tonight is an indication of your dedication. We have met you and others like you on nearly every continent of the earth. Some have spoken French, some Russian, some Chinese, some Spanish, others Portuguese, some German, and some English. Some have large quorums that are bursting at the seams. Others have small numbers of young men and they struggle to help them have a good experience in the Aaronic Priesthood with just a few young men. Some meet in beautiful chapels in an atmosphere of safety and security; others fear for their safety every day of their lives—and yet, they continue to serve their young men of the Aaronic Priesthood. The leaders of our youth are as varied as the sands of the seas or the snowflakes that fall in the nearby mountains—and yet, they are united in their purpose to strengthen the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood. To all of you, wherever you are: thank you, cnacebo, merci beaucoups, gracias, vielen dank!
Nearly five years ago, President Hinckley laid his hands on my head to set me apart. I have shared with many of you before just one part of that sacred blessing. I now share with you another part of that prophet’s blessing, which I believe was as much to you as to me. In that blessing, President Hinckley said: “We bless you now that the Spirit of the Lord may come upon you that you may be almost consumed with a desire to bring about improvement in the program of the young men of the Church. These thousands of precious youth must go forward and pick up the mantle and carry on the work, go into the world as missionaries, spread the word and build the kingdom and go on to adulthood and marriage and the creation of happy and wonderful families. It is so important that they remain true and faithful in the Church.” That blessing has, for these years, been our guide and our charge—every one of us. And for that reason, tonight I take it as the guide for my remarks. Before I do, let me read a short e-mail I received just last week from a great Aaronic Priesthood leader. He wrote: “Dear Brother Dahlquist, I figured out what the definition of ‘almost consumed’ means. It is when your wife is pretty sure you are totally consumed by working with the Young Men/Scouting, and you still don't think you are.:)”
Tonight the theme of our leadership training workshop focuses on teaching the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood their duties—and particularly in helping stake and ward leaders know how and what to teach the presidencies of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums. But before we speak of teaching them, let me first say a few words about the youth themselves.
The youth we serve have been referred to by various names over the years: some are simple and objective: “teenagers.” Others point to promises past and future: “youth of the noble birthright”; “Zion’s youth in latter days”; “the rising generation.” In referring to this generation, President Ezra Taft Benson said: “It is well we keep before us whom we are serving. The youth of this Church are not just ordinary young people. They are choice spirits. Never has the Church had a more choice group of young people than at present, and Satan is well aware of who they are. He is doing everything in his power to thwart them in their destiny. He knows that they have been sent to earth in this crucial period of the world’s history to build the kingdom of God and establish Zion in preparation for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, our youth have an awesome challenge.” President Gordon B. Hinckley said it this way: “There never was a time such as this. What a season in the history of the world to be alive! Never before has there been such a generation of youth. . . . You really are ‘a chosen generation’ ” (Hinckley, Gordon B., Way to Be! , 3).
And President Thomas Monson said: “Whenever it is my opportunity to meet with [young men] and their leaders, I recognize your future potential. . . . You are part of a mighty army of youth—even a royal army” (Monson, Thomas S., Comments at Sacrament Meeting, Boy Scouts of America Jamboree at Ft. A.P. Hill, Virginia, 1997).
These are the youth we serve, the youth of the noble birthright!
Several years ago, I stood on the quiet banks of the Susquehanna River where Joseph and Oliver Cowdery retired to pray when they had a question about authority and about baptism. In answer to their prayer, John the Baptist appeared to them and said, “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13). Since that experience, I have been impressed with the magnitude of the gift given to each young man of the Aaronic Priesthood.
These young men we serve have not only come to earth with a divine mission, but have now been given a divine charge and mission—having received this grand priesthood. And so, what are our responsibilities to this rising generation? While they are many, I have chosen to mention five: First, to stand as proper role models for our youth; second, to teach them their duties; third, to help prepare every young man to serve a full-time mission for the Lord; fourth, to help each young man reach his potential and learn to do hard things; and finally, to help quorum presidents plan a balanced program to carry out each of these responsibilities.
First, to ensure that we are proper role models for them, that our lives are in order, that we are strong and committed to our covenants—just as we teach them to be. If we expect them to read the scriptures, we, too, must have a regular scripture study plan; if we expect them to be temple ready and temple worthy, we, too, must be worthy and attend the temple; if we expect them to be preparing for full-time missionary service, we, too, must be preparing for service with our wives when the time comes; if we expect them to be controlled in their actions and to represent the Savior wherever they are, we must do the same—even on the basketball court, on the highway, and when using the Internet ourselves.
You are called to be true under-shepherds,
To keep watch o’er the lambs of the fold’
And to point out the way to green pastures,
Of more value than silver or gold.
Unto you is entrusted the children,
Priceless treasures from heaven above.
You’re to teach them the truth of the Gospel –
Let them bask in the warmth of your love.
Do you ask for the help of our Father,
In teaching His children so dear?
Do you put forth a true, honest effort?
Is your message impressive and clear?
Are you living a worthy example?
Is your character what it should be?
When the children have gathered around you,
Can you say, “Come, follow me?”
Earnest effort is always rewarded:
Righteous lives are inspiring to all.
You can render your thanks to our Savior,
By making the most of your call.
--Jayne Bradford Terry (The Instructor, November 1956)
I think never has there been a time in the history of the world when there is a greater need for men and women to lead and teach and model goodness and integrity for the youth of this world. Never has there been a time when there has been a greater need for noble men and women of integrity to stand firm as heroes and role models for the youth of today. Many of you have a hall of heroes, just as I do. What a grand activity it would be to spend a few Mutual nights helping our young men understand what a hero is, how to choose righteous heroes, and then help them build their own hall of heroes. It could be as simple as a single frame with multiple pictures or a series of photos in separate frames and a brief description of why that particular individual was chosen as the boy’s hero.
We have often spoken of the 4 T’s of youth leadership: testimony, training, tenure, and time. They are vital in helping youth to reach their potential. We must not only continually strive to strengthen our own testimonies, but look for opportunities to bear them to the youth we serve—and to provide an appropriate atmosphere where they, too, can have spiritual experiences and be reassured that God lives and knows them and hears and answers their prayers. In a general priesthood meeting address in 1975, Elder S. Dilworth Young, then one of the seven presidents of the Seventy, said: “Have you ever used a campfire to inspire a boy to go on a mission? This is a most important experience in the life of a boy. The opportunity I missed to do this is one of my most intense regrets. I have organized and conducted about 1,150 campfires during the time I was professionally in the Boy Scout movement and organized the programs presented during those exciting hours. With other leaders, I have told stories to 15,000 boys. Firelight producing flickering shadows through the darkening trees, or reproducing itself endlessly in the lapping waters of a quiet lake, the moon making a delicate filigree through the canopy of leaves, the mysterious stars winking their eternal signals of distant worlds—all have put a boy in a receptive mood to hear my message. I have achieved some fame as a storyteller. The one I am most famous for is called ‘The Wendigo’—Algernon Blackwood’s thriller about the New Brunswick woods. That story never sent a single boy on a mission. It was a thrilling story, but the motivation was not of the kind which sends a boy on a mission—rather, it tended to pull the covers over his head. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had relived with these boys in those high moments of mystery while the magic worked, the adventures of Samuel H. Smith as he slogged along through those wet spring woods, stopping at primitive cabins or at village homes, telling people of the book his brother Joseph brought forth. Or of the dangerous walks of Wilford Woodruff through the wilds of Missouri, where there lurked men more dangerous to him than the bears and wolves he saw en route. . . . I could have influenced every boy to thirst to find his relationship to God our Father, and his Son, and then to go forth to be saved from grave danger by the miracle of the intervention of heavenly aid. Today, the danger may be more moral than physical—but the whispering still will save him if he can learn to hear it. . . . One of your great obligations is to teach in the environment of the out-of-doors that every grove can be a sacred grove, every mountaintop a Sinai, where the boy may receive his revelations. Teach him how to know when these come.” And then Elder Young concludes by saying: “Boys like adventure—a mission is the highest type of adventure. Boys want to be led to the Holy Grail. A mission will lead them far beyond that to the exalted Christ. Do not fail in this most important calling.”
Not long ago, I read the comments of one Eagle Scout as he reflected on his Scouting experience. He said, “Much of what I’ve learned in Scouting I have learned in the mountains. . . . These journeys in the mountains were hard. I know that our Scoutmaster did not mean for them to be easy. He wanted us to stretch and hurt and struggle and learn the lessons of life. Through it all we learned the importance of having the right attitude. . . . Our Scoutmaster has been Scoutmaster about 10 years. During those years, not a single Scout of Troop 112 has escaped having to learn ‘scriptures.’ There was the famous scripture our scoutmaster called ‘David O. McKay 2:4’—‘Tell me what you think about when you don’t have to think, and I’ll tell you what you are and largely what you will become.’. . . . On those Scouting trips our Scoutmaster talked of things other than merit badges. He talked about Paul as we were hiking, Nephi when we were sitting around the fire, Abraham when we were looking at the starts, and Jesus of Nazareth just before we said our prayers and went to sleep. And at one time or another, he sent us each out alone to pray as Joseph Smith had prayed. . . . If I can remember what I learned on those hikes up and over and down and into the mountains, I believe I can make it through the journey of life. The journey will not always be easy. My Scoutmaster knows that. But perhaps someday in high school or college or on a mission or at some later time if ever I am discouraged, if ever I begin to doubt myself or wonder if I can go on, if ever I think I can’t take another step—those words will come back. . . . ‘Come on now; you’ll get your second wind’ . . . ‘It’s just around the next corner’ . . . ‘Only 200 yards more’ . . . ‘Make your mind tell your body what to do’ . . . ‘Be not weary in well doing’ . . . ‘When you help a friend to the top of a mountain’ . . . ‘Tell me what you think about when you don’t have to think’ . . . ‘Boy, this is really livin’ . . . ‘The trials will come, but you and I do not need to be afraid. We are prepared.’ . . . ‘We can have the courage to say what President Spencer W. Kimball said: “There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN” ’ ” (Kent Stirland McKay, Comments at an Eagle Banquet, February 13, 1981).
Our leaders must be trained in priesthood principles, how Scouting works to support the priesthood, how Duty to God helps young men prepare for missionary service. And they should be left in their callings long enough to make a difference. President Monson continually reminds us of this when he says: “I am concerned about the short term of service of many of our youth leaders. How can you expect to have an effect in the lives of young men if our leaders are changed every few months?” Now, as to training, I would be interested in how many of you here tonight have been to Wood Badge? Thank you for your efforts to be prepared to teach these great young men we serve. Recently I was with the First Presidency and said, “Brethren, I am grateful for the Boy Scouts of America and the wonderful partnership we have with them. I am particularly grateful for the training provided to adult and youth leaders by the Boy Scouts of America—which helps us become better priesthood leaders. It is an interesting process to watch a stake president, bishop, stake or ward Young Men president, or high councilor attend Wood Badge. They do not come back dyed-in-the-wool Scouters, but rather, better prepared priesthood leaders with a greater vision of how Scouting can be appropriately used to retain and strengthen the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood. We have watched this now for five years as thousands upon thousands of priesthood, Young Men, and Scouting leaders have become better trained by attending Wood Badge and other training provided by the Boy Scouts of America. I recently received a letter from a sister who said, after explaining her experience with Wood Badge: “Wood Badge has had a profound effect on my family’s lives as well. It was definitely one of the top spiritual experiences in my life. I attended in 1996, and when I returned home, my husband wanted me to tell him all about it. I told him if he wanted to know what happens he would have to go himself. He attended the next year. He has gone from almost total inactivity to serving over seven years as a varsity coach and is now serving in the bishopric. Guess I don’t have to tell you how much Wood Badge means to me, do I?” Again, we thank you for your dedication and devotion to the young men you serve.
Our second responsibility in strengthening the Aaronic Priesthood is to teach them their duties. Recently, I was in Suva on the island of Fiji. After priesthood meeting opening exercises, I decided to attend the deacons quorum. As I arrived, there were only five deacons and an advisor in the room. As soon as I sat down, the advisor, a full-time senior missionary, said to me, “President, I had thought we would take more time in opening exercises, so I didn’t prepare a lesson for the deacons quorum this morning. However, this is a brand new deacons quorum presidency—called just this week. Would you like to take the hour and orient them to their calling?”
I would like you to join me for this wonderful hour we spent with President Bob and his two counselors—oh, and his devoted secretary, who had no information about what he was to do as the secretary of the deacons quorum, but, having been called, came prepared with a pen and notepad!
We began with something as simple as teaching them that the first counselor is always on the right side of the president and the second counselor on his left. President Bob had brought his scriptures, so we then turned to Doctrine and Covenants 107:85, where the Lord was instructing early leaders of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, and read: “And again, verily I say unto you, the duty of a president over the office of a deacon is to preside over twelve deacons, to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another, as it is given according to the covenants.” We then spoke about what it meant to “preside,” to “sit in council” with his quorum members, and what his responsibilities were in teaching them their duty in a way that would “edify” them.
PRESIDE. In addition to the presidency and secretary, there was one additional quorum member president. I asked President Bob what he thought his responsibility was to him and other quorum members that were not present that morning. He thought it would be important to be sure that they were all at priesthood meeting each Sunday. (I agreed!) He thought it would be important that each member of the quorum brought his scriptures to priesthood meeting each week. (I agreed!) He also thought it was important that they identify each member of the quorum and then make sure that each had an invitation to priesthood and to Mutual each week. I agreed and asked him how he would do that. He wasn’t sure, so we spoke about the list that he could get from the ward clerk that would list ALL the members of his quorum—including the active, the less active, and even those who were baptized but unordained, yet still in the age-group of a deacon. We then discussed several of those members that they knew would be on that list—and spoke of ways that they could involve them in the quorum activities.
I told President Bob that when he was set apart, he was given the keys of presidency and was one of only four in the ward with those keys of presidency. (The others are the bishop, the elders quorum president, and the teachers quorum president.) That gave him the divine responsibility to direct the affairs of his quorum, to preside at quorum meetings (even when a counselor in the bishopric was in attendance), and to ensure that each member of his quorum had a friend, a responsibility or opportunity to serve, and was being “nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4).
SIT IN COUNCIL. We then spoke of what it meant to “sit in council” with his quorum members—and especially focused on the right he had, as their priesthood leader, to receive inspiration that would help him as he spoke with and helped to strengthen his quorum members. We spoke of how important it was for him to represent the needs and resources of the deacons quorum as he sat as a member of other priesthood or ward councils, such as the Aaronic Priesthood committee and the bishopric youth committee. As we discussed each of his quorum members and their needs, I was again impressed with the wisdom, enthusiasm, and dedication of this young quorum president and his desire to serve his quorum as the Lord would want him to.
TEACH THEM THEIR DUTY. Finally, toward the end of the quorum meeting, we spoke of opportunities President Bob and his counselors would have to teach quorum members their duty. President Bob thought that teaching quorum members how to pass the sacrament would be one. (I agreed.) One of his counselors thought that teaching quorum members how to collect fast offerings would be another. (I agreed.) We also discussed that these opportunities to teach and “edify” or strengthen his quorum members would come in two general forms: (1) formal opportunities to teach, such as teaching the quorum lessons occasionally with the assistance of his quorum advisor and the counselor in the bishopric; and (2) informal opportunities to teach, such as when he sees his quorum members in his neighborhood or at school or when he and his counselors visit their quorum members in their homes.
We also spoke about Duty to God as a personal achievement program and as the foundation of their activity program. I told them that I was working on completing all the requirements in the deacon Duty to God guidebook and challenged them each to do the same and to use it as a guide in planning their quorum activity program during Mutual each week.
As we concluded, I thought of the words of President Monson to the priesthood of the Church: “One cannot gaze in the faces of [these young men of this presidency] without feeling [their] strength, recognizing your faith, and knowing of your spiritual power, even the power of the priesthood.”
Now, brethren, I have given you the outline of a first lesson for teaching a new deacons, teachers, or priests quorum presidency their duties, using Doctrine and Covenants 107:85. My written lesson plan, if I had had one on that Sunday in Fiji, might have looked like this. But that is only one of many subjects that you might consider in teaching these young men their duties. Others might be: Giving priesthood leadership; activating quorum members; teaching quorum members their duties; preparing quorum members for full-time missionary service; teaching quorum members about the ordinances of the priesthood; using an agenda to conduct meetings; delegation and follow-through; making fun, priesthood-centered activities successful; how Scouting helps strengthen quorum members in their priesthood duties; how our quorum can provide priesthood service to members of our quorum, ward, and community. And the list goes on and on and on.
And in all of our teaching, we must see them as they will be in 10 or 15 or 20 years and see their real potential as sons of God. May God bless you as you put these lessons plans together and teach them their duties.
Thirdly, it is our responsibility to help each young man prepare to serve as a full-time missionary for the Lord. The command is to flood the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To do that, we must have more and better prepared messengers of salvation—more missionaries to help invite “all to come unto Christ.” We must use all of the tools that we can to accomplish this effort. Duty to God was designed specifically to help prepare young men for missionary service. We have been thrilled as thousands of leaders and young men throughout the Church have applied the principles in the Duty to God program to help young men of the Aaronic Priesthood become better prepared for missionary service by (1) learning the program; (2) involving parents; (3) planning activities that help young men accomplish the Duty to God award; (4) track and record progress; and (5) celebrate success. Many of you have also been working on Duty to God along with your boys—not because you can earn the award, but to help you be better prepared to strengthen the young men you serve. Each of us in the Young Men general presidency and board has done the same. Let me tell you of an experience I recently had as I have been working on my priests Duty to God requirements. Not long ago, Sister Dahlquist and I had an assignment in Mexico with Sister Elaine Dalton and her husband, Steve.
Throughout Mexico Sister Dalton continued to speak about the new “Virtue Value” that had been added to the Young Women theme. As I listened, I thought, “Virtue is not gender-based, and young men of the Aaronic Priesthood should be as virtuous in their thoughts, words, and actions as the young women.” So when we returned home and Sister Dalton sent me a copy of the new Virtue Value insert to the Personal Progress program, I wrote in my priests Duty to God manual: “Accomplish each of the 4 Virtue Value Experiences and the Virtue Value Project.” I am pleased to report to you that I have accomplished each of these and recommend to you that you consider challenging your priests to accomplish each of these requirements as part of the “Spiritual Development” section of their Duty to God award. For, you see, virtue is already part of the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, as we strive to help each young man be “worthy” to receive the ordinances of the temple and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, serve an honorable mission, and serve worthily in priesthood offices and priesthood callings. It has been a blessing for me to accomplish each of these requirements, and I have a feeling it will be a blessing to all young men and young women as we work together to “flood the earth with virtue.”
“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” (D&C 121:45–46). Never has there been a greater need for this blessing of virtue in the lives of the youth of Zion than now.
Now, brethren, I want to say something about those who can't serve a full-time mission for physical, emotional, or other reasons—including those whose past transgressions have precluded them from serving. All these brethren—in fact, especially these brethren—need a mission experience. It may be at a Deseret Industries, a family history center, a Church farm, or in the ward or stake, but we as priesthood leaders have the opportunity of helping them to enrich their lives by having a mission experience. I have a young man in our ward who would not have been able to serve a full-time mission. However, he served as a Church-service missionary at Deseret Industries and elsewhere and was honored to serve. How he loved wearing his black name tag. There is a young man in the Church cafeteria who is serving a Church-service mission. His assignment is to ensure that all the trays from the cafeteria are placed in the moving tray retriever the appropriate way. When I approach him, I always greet him and then proceed to try to put my tray in the wrong way—asking him for help—so he can feel that he is performing a service. As he helps me, I feel a warm glow as a result of his service. Brethren, the priesthood must rise up and give these great young men a mission experience, even if for only a few months, to help them continue to fulfill the measure of their creation. God bless you in your efforts.
Fourth, to help each young man reach his potential and learn to do hard things. This was the charge given by President Hinckley to the priesthood of the Church in his general priesthood meeting address in October 2006 as he said: “The words of Lehi are a clarion call to all men and boys of the priesthood. Said he with great conviction: ‘Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust’ (2 Nephi 1:23).” President Hinckley continued: “There is not a man or boy in this vast congregation tonight who cannot improve his life. And that needs to happen. After all, we hold the priesthood of God. If we are boys who have received the Aaronic Priesthood, we are entitled to the ministering of angels to guide and direct, to bless and protect us. What a remarkable and wonderful thing that is.” He also quoted that song we have all become familiar with, “Rise Up, O Men of God,” and challenged us all to “rise up.” Recently I read a book entitled, Do Hard Things, which is written by two teenage brothers who were “rising up” in rebellion against low expectations for teenagers, as they say, “throwing off the shackles of lies and low expectations and returning our generation to a true and very exciting understanding of the teen years—not as a vacation from responsibility but as a launching pad for the rest of our lives” (Harris, A. and Harris, B., Do Hard Things, , 45). Can you see that this is the purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs in the lives of our young men? To help them live up to their potential and prepare for lives of service to their family, to the Church, and to their communities—and to do it NOW! And we will help them prepare for the challenges of mortality if we will help them do hard things, help them accomplish things that will reinforce their feelings of self-worth and capability. This is one of the main reasons why we have been partners with the Boy Scouts of America for nearly 100 years: to build young men of strong character who can take their place among the leaders of their communities. President Benson, in a talk given in 1979, said: “The Boy Scout program, to an unusual degree, is educationally, socially, and spiritually sound. It builds character and spirituality and trains a boy for leadership and citizenship responsibility. Scouting teaches a boy to take care of himself and stand on his own two feet. Scouting is an inspired program for a demanding time, and that time is now!” President Benson then encouraged leaders to “train every Boy Scout to attain the rank of Eagle by the time he is a teacher.” I concur with that recommendation. If we can help our young men to work hard and achieve their Eagle by the time they become a teacher, they will be able to focus on the opportunities available to them as teachers and priests, including Duty to God and the Denali Award in the Varsity Scout program and the awards of the Venturing program as they become priests. In so doing, we must remember that it is not just the award that is most important—but the development of the character of the individual while he accomplishes each rank advancement, each service project, each merit badge. Not long ago, I was in Hawaii on an assignment. After the meeting a sister in a Scout uniform approached me. I asked her what her role in Scouting was and she replied, “I am the troop advancement chair, and ALL MY BOYS ARE EAGLES, NOT JUST PAPER EAGLES, BUT IRON EAGLES.” Because I had never heard the term “paper Eagle” or “iron Eagle,” I asked her to explain. She said: “A paper Eagle is one that is just on paper—no personal growth. But an “Iron Eagle” is one who has grown strong during the process of earning his Eagle by doing hard things.” We need more “Iron Eagles” in our ranks, for the preparation for valiant missionary service it will bring.
President Benson continued, after reflecting on his own experience as a Scoutmaster: “Scouting should not be a separate activity from quorum work. All activities should be carried out under the direction of the quorum presidency. The quorum presidency should meet with advisers and the bishopric and plan in advance quorum programs and activities to meet the needs of the young men. Just as athletics, service projects, or other programs are part of the quorum, so is Scouting. Yet, Scouting must not preempt the priesthood work of a quorum. The two should function together” (Unpublished Message to Young Men General Presidency and Board, September 19, 1979). As I read this great message, I thought of Elder Holland’s comment to us when he said: “I am an Eagle Scout. My Scoutmaster was B. Glen Smith. When I was a deacon, it didn’t matter if we were working on merit badges, doing a service project, or collecting fast offerings, it was all priesthood.” It is with this vision that we need to utilize Scouting and the priesthood to help our young men reach their potential by learning NOW to do hard things!
And finally, to help quorum presidents plan a balanced program to carry out each of these responsibilities. There has never been a greater need in this world for youth who are “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight,” who are spiritually strong, have strong feelings of self-worth, and who understand and are committed to fulfill their duty to their God and to their country and who have had significant leadership experiences during their formative years. We need young men who will have the personal testimony and courage to take the gospel message to all the ends of the earth, in the words of the Prophet Joseph, “boldly and nobly.” The programs of the Aaronic Priesthood, including Scouting and Duty to God, are in place to assist us in building strong young men who are prepared in every way to lead out and live the principles of the gospel throughout their lives. And all this development can happen in the home and in the quorums of the Aaronic Priesthood. If a young man is to be successful in life, he must be prepared in four areas: (1) to fulfill his home and family responsibilities, now and in the future as he raises his own family; (2) to do his duty to God and to the Church; (3) to provide for his family by serving well in his job, his profession, or business; and (4) to do his duty to his community. This requires a young man who is well balanced, who has developed character traits in his youth and who, in his youth, has learned that God lives and that he is a son of God with a grand mission to fulfill on the earth. I don’t know of anything, outside of the home, that can help our young men prepare in these areas more than the priesthood quorums as they utilize Duty to God and Scouting in their programs of service and personal development.
And so, in conclusion, that is our charge: To stand as proper role models for our youth; to teach them their duties; to help prepare every young man to serve a full-time mission for the Lord; to help each young man reach his potential and learn to do hard things; and finally, to help quorum presidents plan a balanced program to carry out each of these responsibilities. And may we always remember that our charge extends to every young man of the Aaronic Priesthood and beyond, for our duty and that of all Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies is to retain the active, reclaim the less active, and grow the quorums of the priesthood through active missionary efforts.
God lives. This is His priesthood. This is His work. The young men we serve are His sons. May we serve them with all our heart, mind, and strength.
Rise up, O men of God,
Tread where His feet have trod,
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.