The Priesthood: A Royal Army

N. Eldon Tanner


As I try to envision the large body of priesthood present in this building and other different buildings throughout the Church, it makes me appreciate more fully the song “Behold! A Royal Army.” We are the only people in all the world that hold the priesthood of God, the power to speak and act in his name. What a tremendous force and influence for good, as we discipline ourselves and fully magnify our priesthood. What a privilege and what a responsibility!

As fathers and sons and holders of the priesthood we must always be humble, proud, and never ashamed of the priesthood we hold. We are different, a peculiar people, and must remain different in the cause of truth and righteousness. Never adopt a “holier than thou” attitude, but always live up to the standards of the Church and never waver.

Some seem to fear they will lose prestige, or fear ridicule. Surely we don’t need to try to be like the world and try to please or cater to the sinful ways of the world. Be in the world but not of it. My experience has shown me beyond any question of doubt that one never needs to be ashamed of the priesthood that he holds or of living according to its teachings and magnifying that priesthood.

I was talking to a very successful businessman just yesterday, who is a devout member of this church, who magnifies his priesthood. I said, “Have you ever found it at any time in your life to be a detriment to you?”

He said, “President Tanner, it has always been a plus.”

Some seem to think that with the looseness and trends in the world today affecting the thinking of some of our youth and even some of our bishops and stake presidents, we are altogether too strict in the teaching of morals when we see what is going on all around us. In fact, we are accused of being prigs, which to me means narrow-minded persons who assume superior virtue and wisdom. Judged by the ways of the world, probably we are prigs.

Are we going to lose faith, deny modern revelation, modernize our way of life to be like the world? Or are we going to be a peculiar people and honor and magnify our priesthood and do our duty?

We are different from the world. We have the revealed gospel and the priesthood. We must be exemplary wherever we are.

Or are we as Esaias said: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

“For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42–43.)

I would like to say to the young men who are listening in tonight (I wish I could talk to every young man who holds the priesthood, if it could be effective), we never need to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we should always be humbly proud of the priesthood that we hold.

I was talking to a young man who is going to be baptized next month, the only member of his family to be baptized, and I said, “What caused you to be interested in the Church?”

And he replied, “The young man I was associating with in school was a member of your church, and the way he lived interested me. He was different from the rest of the boys. He was happy, and he invited me to his home; and when I saw the love in that home and how that family lived, I was more interested. He took me to church, and then I joined the ball team, and I found in that church a different feeling than I had found any other place. Then that ball team, those fine fellows all keeping the Word of Wisdom and living good clean lives, impressed me, and I determined that I would join the Church.”

He went on to say: “I came with that friend out to Brigham Young University to attend one semester. I wanted to get acquainted with the people out here. I found most of those young people down there living the way they should, but if I hadn’t determined to be a member of this church before I met some of the others, I don’t know what effect it would have had on me.”

I think, young men, wherever you are, you must keep this in mind. Your actions may be keeping people out of the Church, and I am sure you wouldn’t be happy about that.

Just the other day I was talking to the father of another young man who was leaving this city of ours to go to New York to accept a position as a lawyer. The president of this organization, which is one of the large organizations in the country, knew one of our Church members in the East who was vice-president of a large company; and the president of this company asked him, knowing who he was, if there were any young man whom he could recommend. He said, “We want someone who will live as your young men live, somebody we know will not carouse, who will be on the job, whom we can depend on.”

Now that is no reflection on others, but it is a recommendation to our young men who will live as they should. It will be a plus in their lives all the time.

And this man who was the vice-president of the company said, “I know a young man in Salt Lake City.” They invited the young man to come to New York and paid his way back there, interviewed him, offered him a job, paid his way back, and offered to pay his wife’s fare to go there also to find a place to live.

I can’t overemphasize to you young men the importance of living the way you should, for your good, for your own success, for your own happiness, and for the influence you will have on those boys with whom you associate. They expect you to do what you are professing to do; to be what you profess to be; and, if you don’t you let them down, other boys who don’t have the priesthood have the opportunity for that influence on their lives.

I was impressed the other day when the national president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of America came with his wife and two other couples into my office, brought in for a courtesy call by a local Jaycee who was a member of the Church. After we had talked about things in the world and about the responsibility of this young man, who was president of the Junior Chamber, I said, “Maybe you would like to know something about the Church.”

He said, “Yes, I would.”

Then I turned to the young man who had brought them in and said, “Will you tell them something about it?”

He said, “Well, President Tanner, I thought you would.”

I said, “No, you tell them about the Church.”

He looked this other young man in the eye and said, “I want to tell you a little bit about the Book of Mormon, in which we believe, and which we know is the word of God.” He told them what it was, how it was obtained by the Prophet, and how it was translated; and, as he gave them this information he said, “And I want to tell you that I know it is true, and I bear my testimony to you people here today that that book is true, that it is the word of God, and I would like to refer you to the promise in that book”—which promise you all know.

Then he said, “Would you like to have a copy of the book?”

And the Jaycee president said, “I surely would. I am interested.”

That young man who gave that testimony was Richard Moyle.

Young men, wherever we are, with whomever we are, let us remember that we are sons of God. We hold the priesthood of God, and we have a responsibility to live according to its teachings.

I would like to bear my testimony to you this night that I know the gospel is true. I know it’s true as well as I know anything else in the world. I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, his Son, and that they appeared to Joseph Smith; that the gospel has been restored and the Church reestablished here upon the earth. I should like to say to you young men who feel that you might not have a testimony of the gospel, accept the convincing testimonies that you have heard this night and that you hear from our leaders, while at the same time, through prayer and study and keeping the commandments, you will gain a testimony for yourselves, the greatest blessing one can enjoy.

“… this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.)

May we honor our priesthood and enjoy the blessings that it affords and do our part to help in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.