Lesson 1: The Priesthood

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 1–3


Each young man will understand the great power and privilege he has been given in being able to act in the name of God.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      Paper and pencil for each young man.

    3. c.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

    4. d.

      Bottle or container of aspirin tablets.

  2. 2.

    You may want to make a poster of the definition of the priesthood by President Spencer W. Kimball below.

Suggested Lesson Development

Priesthood Power and Authority

Chalkboard and writing activity

Write the following on the chalkboard: The priesthood is …

Give each young man a piece of paper and a pencil. Instruct the young men to write on their paper a short definition of priesthood. When all are finished, collect the papers and have the president of the quorum read each one aloud. Then summarize the statements, most of which will likely point out that the priesthood is the power to act in God’s name.

Ask everyone in the quorum who has this power to stand up. Help the young men realize that Heavenly Father has shared his great power with each of them.

Quotation and poster

Read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball: “The priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to man on earth to act in all things pertaining to the salvation of men. It is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls. Without this priesthood power, men are lost” (“The Example of Abraham,” Ensign, June 1975, p. 3).


  • What does it mean to delegate? (To give one’s authority to another.)

Refer again to the above question.

  • What two things does the Lord delegate to his servants when he gives them the priesthood? (The power and authority to act for him.)

Story and discussion

Tell the following story; have the young men listen to identify what is wrong.

Ronald Jones is the bishop of one of the wards in our town. He is also my uncle, my father’s only living brother. He and my father are very close. Last Sunday Uncle Ron was seriously injured in an automobile accident. He knew he would be unable to take care of his Church duties, but my father, an elder in our ward, assured him that he would take care of everything. On Sunday morning, my father appeared at my uncle’s ward and called the meeting to order on time.

  • What is wrong in this story?

Allow the young men to respond until someone points out that a man cannot just assume on his own that he will act as a bishop. Explain that even though the bishop’s brother had the priesthood, he had not been given the keys nor had he been set apart to perform the duties of a bishop in his brother’s ward. He must be given these keys and be ordained in order to have this authority.

  • Who has the right to take charge in the absence of the bishop? (His first counselor.)

Scripture, quotation, and discussion

  • How does a man receive this power and authority?

Have a young man read Hebrews 5:4 while the others follow in their scriptures. Emphasize that a man must be called of God and ordained by the laying on of hands. Have the young men mark this scripture.

Have a young man read the following remark by Orson Pratt:

“The Priesthood of God is the great supreme, legal authority that governs the inhabitants of all redeemed and glorified worlds. In it is included all power to create worlds. … It is that power that formed the minerals, the vegetables, and the animals in all their infinite [many] varieties” (Orson Pratt, Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt, compiled by N. B. Lundwall [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962], p. 316).

  • How does Orson Pratt describe the power and authority of the priesthood? (The power by which God creates and governs all things.)

Chalkboard, scripture, and discussion

Have the young men discuss ways they would like to change or add to the definitions they have written.

Complete the statement on the chalkboard by writing: The power and authority given to man to act for God. The power by which God creates and governs all things.

Have the young men discuss the difference between priesthood authority and priesthood power. Help them to understand that they can receive the authority by the laying on of hands, but the power comes from righteous living.

Have a young man read Doctrine and Covenants 121:36 while the others follow.

  • How do we obtain the power of the priesthood? (Through righteous living.)

Quotation and discussion

Have a young man read Bishop H. Burke Peterson’s explanation of these two terms:

“There is a difference between priesthood authority and priesthood power. … All of us who hold the priesthood have the authority to act for the Lord, but the effectiveness of our authority—or if you please, the power that comes through that authority—depends on the pattern of our lives; it depends on our righteousness” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, p. 50; or Ensign, May 1976, p. 33).

  • How do we receive the authority to act for the Lord? (By the laying on of hands; by being ordained.)

Honoring the Priesthood—a Sacred Privilege

Object lesson

Tape an aspirin tablet to the lapel of your coat or to your shirt collar. The young men will no doubt wonder what you are doing. Tell them your doctor told you to take an aspirin every four hours, but because you don’t like the taste, you decided to wear it instead. Someone will probably point out that it will not do you any good unless you swallow it. This will give you the opportunity to explain that the only way you can benefit from something is to use it properly and that many priesthood bearers are neither receiving nor enjoying the blessings and power of the priesthood for this reason. They may know its value but are not willing to live the way they should to receive its blessings and exercise its power.

Help the young men understand that the more fully they obey the commandments, the more power they will have and the greater their desire to serve will be. The more they serve, the better they will understand their great privilege of bearing and honoring the priesthood.

Quotation and discussion

Explain that Elder James E. Talmage, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote about his ordination to the priesthood and the feelings he had as he tried to honor it. Have a member of the quorum read Elder Talmage’s remarks aloud.

“As soon as I had been ordained, a feeling came to me such as I have never been able to fully describe. It seemed scarcely possible, that I, a little boy, could be so honored of God as to be called to the priesthood. … I felt strong in the thought that I belonged to the Lord, and that he would assist me in whatever was required of me.

“The effect of my ordination (as a deacon) entered into all the affairs of my boyish life. I am afraid that sometimes I forgot what I was, but I have ever been thankful that oft-times I did remember, and the recollection always served to make me better. When at play on the school grounds, and perhaps tempted to take unfair advantage in the game, when in the midst of a dispute with a playmate, I would remember, and the thought would be effective as though spoken aloud—’I am a deacon; and it is not right that a deacon should act this way.’ On examination days, when it seemed easy for me to copy some other boy’s work … I would say in my mind, ‘It would be more wicked for me to do that than it is for them, because I am a deacon.’

“The sense of the great honor of my ordination made all service welcome.”

  • How did Elder Talmage feel about being a deacon in the priesthood? (He strongly felt that he belonged to the Lord and that the Lord would assist him; in times of temptation he would remind himself of how a deacon should act.)

Let the young men discuss the feelings they had when they were ordained to the priesthood. Have them share any experiences they may have had similar to those expressed by Elder Talmage.

Have another member of the quorum finish reading Elder Talmage’s remarks.

“The impression made upon my mind when I was made a deacon has never faded. The feeling that I was called to the special service of the Lord, as a bearer of the priesthood, has been a source of strength to me through all the years. When later I was ordained to higher offices in the Church, the same assurance has come to me, on every occasion,—that I was in truth endowed with power from heaven, and that the Lord demanded of me that I honor his authority. I have been ordained in turn a teacher, an elder, a high priest, and lastly an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with every ordination there has come to me a new and soul-thrilling feeling which I first knew when I was called to be a deacon in the service of the Lord” (Incidents from the Lives of Our Church Leaders [deacons instruction manual, 1914], pp. 135–36).

  • If you took your calling as seriously as Elder Talmage did his, how would you act at home? at church? at school?

Point out that understanding that they are called to the special service of the Lord as bearers of the priesthood can be a source of strength to members of the quorum, as it was to Elder Talmage.

Quotation and discussion

To be worthy priesthood holders, we must live righteously. President Harold B. Lee made the following statement:

“We must say, ‘Because I am a holder of the priesthood of the living God, I am a representative of our Heavenly Father and hold the priesthood by which He can work through me; I can’t stoop to do some of the things that I might have done otherwise because of my fellowship with the priesthood of God. …’

“And that is what the holders of the priesthood must say to themselves: ‘We can’t be holders of the priesthood and be like other men. We must be different, because priesthood means a fellowship in the royal household of the kingdom of God’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 115; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 97).

  • How should we as priesthood bearers be different from other men?

As the young men discuss this question, write their answers on the chalkboard.



Bear testimony that members of the quorum have the true priesthood of God. Testify that they will receive many great blessings from the Lord if they honor this priesthood every day of their lives, use it properly, and do more than is required of them.

Impress upon the young men that receiving the Aaronic Priesthood is not as difficult as living worthy to use their priesthood power. This takes constant effort and work.


Challenge each young man to accept all the opportunities to serve that his priesthood leaders may give him. In addition, challenge each one to express gratitude for his priesthood to his Heavenly Father before the next quorum meeting.