A Priesthood of Preparation

of the Council of the Twelve

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    From an address delivered at the Sao Paulo, Brazil, area conference on Nov. 4, 1978.

    I have seven sons, and I have learned a great deal from them and have had to depend a great deal upon them. Sometimes we have had another holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood at home; often we have not. Our elders have been on missions, or they are married; so the priesthood in our home has been Aaronic Priesthood. I am away a great deal and am very grateful for our young sons who hold the priesthood.

    I want to talk to you young men about this priesthood and tell you a story or two from our family experience. Several years ago our sons would spend their time during the summer on their grandfather’s ranch. Twelve years ago one of our sons had a horse. It had been given to him when it was born. It had been running with a wild herd of horses on the ranch. It was now two years old, time that it could be broken to ride. Early one summer we went to the ranch. It took all day to get the horses into the corral. Finally we had my son’s horse in a chute and put a heavy halter on it. We put a big rope on it and tied it to a big post. “Now the horse must stay there for two or three days,” I told him, “until it quits fighting the rope, until it becomes calm.” We worked with it during the morning, and then we went in to eat. He hurried with his meal and then went out to his horse. He was 14. He loved that horse.

    Just as we finished the meal, I heard a noise, and I heard him shout. I knew what had happened. He had untied the horse. I had told him not to, but he was going to work with it. In order to hold the horse, he had wrapped the rope around his wrist. As I came out the door, I saw that horse run by. My son was running after it with great big steps, pulled by the horse; and then he fell. If the horse had turned right, it would have gone out the gate into the mountains. It turned left and was cornered by two fences. While it was trying to find its way out, I got the rope off my boy’s wrist and the end of the rope around the post. He was bruised but not badly hurt.

    In a little while we had the horse tied up again, and we sat down for a father and son lesson. I said to him this: “My boy, if you are ever going to control that horse, you will have to use something besides your muscles. The horse is bigger than you are; it is stronger than you are. Someday you can ride that horse, but it will have to be trained. You cannot train it with your muscles. It is bigger than you are; it is stronger than you are; and it is wild.”

    Two years later we went to the ranch in the spring. This horse had been running all winter with the herd. We went to find it. We found the herd of horses down by the river. I knew if we went too close, they would run. So this boy and his sister took a bucket with some oats and walked quietly to the edge of the meadow. The horses began to move away slowly. Then he whistled, and his horse came out of the herd and trotted up to my boy. We had learned a great lesson. Much had happened in those two years. He had used more than his muscles.

    After the experience when he had untied his horse, he was frightened. He had disobeyed, and he said, “Dad, what should we do?” And I said, “This is the way we will do it. And one day that horse will run up to you.” He had been prepared and had learned a great lesson.

    The Aaronic Priesthood is the preparatory priesthood. It is the lesser priesthood. Preparatory for what? It is to prepare young men to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is to prepare young men for life. It is to train them to be leaders. It is to train them in obedience. It is to train them to get control of things that are bigger than they are. It is to show them how to use more than their muscles.

    Now, when you are ordained a deacon at age twelve, you join a quorum. Oh, what a marvelous blessing it is to belong to a quorum! All of your life you will belong to a quorum: the deacons quorum with twelve members, the teachers with twenty-four members, the priests quorum with forty-eight members. Then if you are faithful and worthy, you will be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood or the higher priesthood. But we are talking to the boys of the Aaronic Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is to prepare us for the Melchizedek Priesthood. We are to learn how to do things in the same way we will do them when we hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.

    Let me tell you about this boy again. Now he is married. He has graduated with a degree in engineering, and he has left to go away to a big city. He and his wife were nervous—a new job, a new home, away from the family.

    He told me these two experiences. He worked in a large room with a lot of engineers. After he had been there for two months, he was getting things ready so that he could leave his work on time. We had taught him to arrive at work a little early and to stay a little after time, to do a little extra. But this day he wanted to get away right on time. One of the other engineers asked him where he was going.

    “What are you in such a hurry for?”

    “Well, we are going to a dinner tonight.”

    “What kind of a dinner?”

    “It’s a quorum dinner. We are taking our wives to a special dinner and social.”

    The other engineer shook his head. “I don’t understand you. I’ve been here two years; I don’t know anybody yet. My wife and I are still just by ourselves. You’ve been here for two months. Already you’ve been invited to dinner.”

    The next experience. One day one of the engineers asked if my son would help him move. “We found a better apartment. Saturday we are going to move. I need some help. Will you help me?” Our son said, “Yes, I’ll be glad to.” And then his wife made some bread for them and prepared a meal. He helped them move. Then he said this: “Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. He hardly knows me. I hardly knew who he was.” And he said, “If I’m the one who was the closest to him, the one he would dare to ask help him move, he doesn’t have anybody.” And he said, “Look what I have.”

    When he and his wife arrived in the new city, they went to Church. He went to his quorum; he belonged the day he walked in. A quorum—to sustain one another, to help one another. A quorum of the priesthood. You boys of the Aaronic Priesthood can begin to prepare now. You’ve trained to help others—to gather the fast offerings; to take care of other assignments, the sacrament, home teaching; to get you trained to help others. Why? You belong to a quorum. A quorum. The word quorum is a marvelous word. In the Church, the worth of quorums has never yet fully been realized.

    It is a tremendous honor to belong to a quorum. To be called to preside over a quorum is a distinct responsibility. To be called as the secretary of a quorum, or to teach a quorum, is a tremendous responsibility. Do you know where the word quorum comes from? It isn’t in the Old Testament or the New Testament. It comes from ancient Rome. When they would form a commission of great importance to perform a great work, they would appoint the members of this commission. And they would send them their certificate. And on that certificate the word quorum would appear. It would tell what the commission was going to do, how important it was, that great men were being chosen, and then it would contain these words: Quorum vos unum, meaning, “You are to be united.”

    My young brethren, you belong to quorums. What a tremendous opportunity! You can learn to be in charge, to take care of your life and to assist others. I am grateful to have held the Aaronic Priesthood, and to still hold it. I am more grateful that my sons have held it and grateful that you can hold it. God bless you, my boys. May the Spirit of the Lord rest upon you. The gospel is true. The priesthood is a great opportunity. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.