Lesson 42: Follow the Brethren

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 158–62


Each young man will resolve to follow the counsel of God’s ordained leaders.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

  2. 2.

    Obtain from the meetinghouse library or from ward or branch members issues of the Ensign containing conference addresses by the leaders of the Church (one issue for each young man).

  3. 3.

    Prepare excerpts from recent conference talks on paper or cards.

  4. 4.

    Prepare Elder Groberg’s story (see lesson) ahead of time by assigning a young man to read it during class (optional).

Suggested Lesson Development

The Mind and Will of the Lord Are Made Known through His Ordained Leaders

Story and discussion

In a general conference address, Elder John Groberg of the Seventy told of his experience as a missionary in the South Pacific.

“I was assigned as a district president to administer the affairs of the Church and preach the gospel in a group of fifteen small, scattered islands. We traveled almost exclusively by sailboat. …

“On one occasion, we received word that a missionary was very ill on a somewhat distant island. The weather was threatening. … Extra heavy seas slowed our progress, and it was late afternoon before we arrived. The missionary was indeed very ill. Fervent prayer was followed by administration, during which the impression came very strongly to get him back to the hospital on the main island, and to do it now! …

“There was much … talk about the darkness, the storm, the formidable reef with its extremely narrow opening to the harbor … but soon eight persons, including an ill missionary, a very experienced captain, and a somewhat concerned district president, boarded the boat. …

“No sooner had we made our commitment to the open seas than the intensity of the storm seemed to increase sevenfold. … The thick clouds and driving rain increased the blackness of our already dark universe—no stars, no moon, no rest—only turmoil. …

“As we rolled and tossed closer and closer to the reef, all eyes searched for the light that marked the opening—the only entry to our home. Where was it? … The rain slashed at our faces and tore at our eyes—eyes vainly searching for that life-giving light.

“Then I heard the chilling sound of the waves crashing and chewing against the reef! It was close—too close. Where was that light? Unless we hit the opening exactly, we would be smashed against the reef and ripped and torn by that thousand-toothed monster. …

“Some began to whimper, others to moan and cry, and one or two even to scream in hysteria. At the height of this panic when many were pleading to turn to the left or to the right, … I looked at the captain—and there I saw the face of calmness, the ageless face of wisdom and experience, as his eyes penetrated the darkness ahead. Quietly his weather-roughened lips parted, and without moving his fixed gaze and just perceptibly shifting the wheel, he breathed those life-giving words, … ‘There is the light!’ …

“I could not see the light, but the captain could see it. And I knew that he could see it. … And so with one last great swell we were hurtled through the opening and into calmer waters. …

“We were in the protected harbor. We were home. …

“And so the great lesson: There are those who, through years of experience and training, and by virtue of special divine callings, can see farther and better and more clearly—and can and will save us in those situations where serious injury or death—both spiritual and physical—would be upon us before we ourselves could see” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, pp. 61–63; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, pp. 44–45).

  • To whom is Elder Groberg referring in the final paragraph of the story? (The leaders of the Church.)

Reread the final paragraph if necessary.

  • Why can God’s chosen leaders see farther and better and more clearly?

  • What assurance do we have that our priesthood leaders know the way of the Lord and can lead us safely through today’s stormy seas?

Scripture, chalkboard, and discussion

Have the young men read and mark Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 and D&C 68:2–4.

  • Who are the servants of the Lord spoken of in these scriptures?

Ask the young men to name some leaders of the Church who receive guidance and counsel for their benefit.

From the responses of the young men, prepare the following chart on the chalkboard:

Priesthood Leaders

  • The President of the Church

  • The First Presidency

  • The Quorum of the Twelve

  • Area Presidency (members of the Seventy)

  • The Presiding Bishopric

Stake presidency

  • Bishopric or branch presidency

  • High priests group leadership

  • Elders quorum presidency

  • Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies

Tell the young men to refer to the chart as they answer the following questions.

  • Through which ordained leader or leaders might the Lord make known the following information?

    1. 1.

      A new revelation for the Church. (The First Presidency.)

    2. 2.

      Approval of the calling of a young man to serve as a quorum president. (The bishop.)

    3. 3.

      A calling to serve as a bishop. (The stake president.)

    4. 4.

      A judgment that a young man or woman is worthy to serve a mission. (The bishop and stake president.)

    5. 5.

      The calling of a missionary to a particular field of labor. (The First Presidency.)

    6. 6.

      Instruction and inspiration for conducting a personal worthiness interview. (The bishop.)

    7. 7.

      Church policy concerning current evils of the world, such as abortion, pornography, and drugs. (The First Presidency.)

    8. 8.

      Counsel that you might need in your life. (The bishop.)


Explain that the mind and will of the Lord are made known through his ordained leaders: “The voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be” (Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, p. 99; or Ensign, July 1972, p. 88).

Church Leaders Give Guidance for Our Benefit

Story and discussion

Relate the following story told by President David O. McKay.

“Recently I read an article in which a game warden noticed a string attached to a tree leading into a dense forest. He concluded to follow this string to find out its significance. Through underbrush, through overhanging branches, he made his way the best he could, and finally came upon a hunter with what remained of a ball of twine still in his hand. Upon inquiry as to what the twine was for, the hunter replied, ‘I have heard of men who have lost their way in these wilds, and I determined that if I should lose my sense of direction, I would have one means of finding my way back’” (Treasures of Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1962], p. 404).

  • How can we keep from losing our way in this world? (We can follow the guidance of our priesthood leaders.)

  • How have your priesthood leaders helped you stay on the right path?

Activity and discussion

  • Where can we find current statements of the Church’s position on modern problems or issues? (The Ensign, the New Era, and the Church News.)

Distribute to each young man an issue of the Ensign containing a report of general conference. Ask each young man to read in the index the list of subjects discussed during a recent conference session. Have each young man identify talks that contain counsel that would be particularly useful to him.

  • How can this information help us? (By telling us how to prepare, warning us of things to avoid, and helping us increase our understanding.)

  • How have you been blessed by following the counsel of the prophets?


Read the following statement from Elder Marion G. Romney:

“Today the Lord is revealing his will to all the inhabitants of the earth, and to members of the Church in particular, on the issues of this our day through the living prophets, with the First Presidency at the head. What they say as a presidency is what the Lord would say if he were here, … and it is scripture” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1945, p. 90).

Church Leaders Counsel Us to Live by Standards That Differ from the World’s Standards


Explain that as we follow the counsel of the Brethren, we will discover that we are required to live standards that may not be popular in the world. President George Q. Cannon proposed a test for faithful Latter-day Saints: “If the breach [distance] is daily widening between ourselves and the world, … then we may be assured that our progress is certain, however slow. On the opposite hand, if our feelings and affections, our appetites and desires, are in unison with the world around us, … we should do well to examine ourselves” (in Millennial Star, 5 Oct. 1861, p. 645).

Scriptures and discussion

Ask a young man to read 1 John 2:15–17 aloud.

  • Why should our appetites and desires be different from other people in the world around us?

  • In what ways should Latter-day Saints differ from the rest of the world? (They should nurture pure thoughts; love truth; be modest in dress and grooming; do righteous acts of charity; follow the Word of Wisdom; and be obedient, Christlike examples.)

Ask the young men to read 1 Peter 2:9. Explain that the word peculiar in this scripture means righteous, holy, charitable, and Christlike. An alternate translation given in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible is “a purchased people.” We are purchased through the suffering of the Savior and therefore should be setting a proper example of righteous living.


Divide the quorum into small groups. Give each group a note that you have extracted from recent conference talks, or use the ones included below. Ask the young men to read the counsel and tell the ways that they will be different or stand apart from the world as they follow the counsel of the prophets.

  1. 1.

    “We find ourselves rationalizing in all forms of dishonesty, including shoplifting. …

    “Dishonesty comes in many other forms: … in robbing money tills or stealing commodities of employers; … in robbing on the street or in the home money and other precious possessions; … in riding public transportation without paying the fare; and all forms of dishonesty in all places. …

    “To all thieveries and dishonest acts, the Lord says, ‘Thou shalt not steal’” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 7; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 6).

  2. 2.

    “Seeking worldly pleasures leads many of our youth into forbidden paths where they begin to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, all of which become habit-forming; and eventually they are engulfed in many other evils related to these things. The influence of television particularly is most damaging as alcohol, tobacco, and sex are portrayed as contributing to popularity and making one part of the ‘in’ group” (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 113; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 75).

  3. 3.

    “Pornography abounds, and its ill effects are evident on every side. You know what they are. I will simply say that neither adult nor youth can see or listen to or communicate in pornography without becoming contaminated and endangering the moral fiber of the community” (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 113; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 75).

  4. 4.

    “Immorality and unchastity are so common today that our youth, seeing many types of perversions on television and in movies, are feeling that these are acceptable modes of living. I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of keeping ourselves clean and pure and chaste” (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 113; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 76).


Read the following quotation:

“We must always remember that though we are in the world, we must not be part of it. We just cannot follow the ways of the world. We must dare to be different. We must not be influenced by those who would call us peculiar. The Lord said to the children of Israel:

“‘For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.’ (Deut. 14:2.)” (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 113; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 76).


Testimony and challenge

Show the New Era, the Church News, and the conference issues of the Ensign to the young men, and refer again to the poster or chalkboard. Emphasize that they can know the mind and will of the Lord today by reading, studying, and listening to the words of the Lord’s chosen leaders, including their local leaders, who receive direction from the General Authorities. Bear your testimony that guidance and counsel for today’s problems are available, sharing personal experiences if appropriate.

Suggested Activities

Suggest that the young men do one or more of the following activities:

  1. 1.

    Attend regional or general conference.

  2. 2.

    Use current directions from the General Authorities to prepare future talks to be given in Church services.

  3. 3.

    Before general conference, write down any questions they have, and then listen for answers in the General Authorities’ talks.

  4. 4.

    Read a recent conference edition of the Ensign to learn Church doctrine or policy on matters that they have questions about.

  5. 5.

    Summarize and report to the other young men the First Presidency message in the current Ensign magazine.

  6. 6.

    Send a question to the New Era.