Lesson 9: Duties of the Elder and the High Priest

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 63–68


The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand the duties of elders and high priests.

Introduction

As we learn our priesthood duties and fulfill them, we bless the lives of others because we are the representatives of the Savior. He has given us His priesthood so that, by performing our duties, we can help those we serve progress toward eternal life. This is especially true for those of us who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood because this priesthood holds “the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church” (D&C 107:18). Those of us who have received the Melchizedek Priesthood have been ordained to the office of elder or high priest within this priesthood. Each of these offices has its special duties, but many of the responsibilities are the same.

The Responsibilities of the Melchizedek Priesthood

By being faithful in our responsibilities as Aaronic Priesthood holders, we prepare ourselves to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. When the time approaches for our ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood, we are interviewed by those in authority. One Aaronic Priesthood holder wrote the following account of what he thought and felt after his interview to be advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood:

“The Stake President looked deep into my eyes as he asked me his last question and listened to my response. He then said, ‘George, I feel you are ready and worthy to be given the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained an Elder.’ A few moments later I was walking through the dark night air. … I’ve never been more calmly excited. … Soon I knelt at my bed. I decided I’d do all I could to use my priesthood with honor. I decided I’d never swear, or tell a dirty story, or hurt anyone. I decided I’d really try to be a man of God. I’ll always remember that night. That was really the beginning of everything. It was so good to be called to hold the priesthood. It’s so good now to strive with all my heart to be chosen as one worthy to use that priesthood; to be a blessing to my family … and to my fellowman” (George D. Durrant, Kentucky Louisville Mission Newsletter, Oct. 19, 1974).

  • What commitment did this young man make after his interview? What are some commitments we should make when we become Melchizedek Priesthood holders?

We should all strive to learn our duties and to be worthy to use the priesthood (see D&C 107:99–100). As Melchizedek Priesthood holders, we all have certain responsibilities no matter what office we hold.

  • Show visual 9-a, “Priesthood authority is conferred through the laying on of hands by those who have been given authority of God.”

The following are some responsibilities of the Melchizedek Priesthood:

Personal Conversion

We should be personally converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and be thoroughly committed to living its principles.

Home and Family Relations

We should teach our families the principles of the gospel and treat them with love and understanding.

Family History and Temple Work

We should be worthy to hold a temple recommend, obtain the blessings of the temple for ourselves and our families, find the names of our ancestors, and perform temple ordinances for them. We should promote “[the turning of] the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” by keeping family records (such as personal journals, family group records, and family histories) and by maintaining family organizations (see D&C 128:17–18).

Welfare Services

We should provide for ourselves and our families and help those in need through the welfare program of the Church.

Missionary Work

We should engage in appropriate missionary activities, such as helping family members prepare for and serve full-time missions, friendshipping nonmembers, providing referrals for the missionaries, serving full-time missions, and financially supporting missionary work.

Home Teaching

We should understand our full responsibilities as home teachers and diligently “watch over … and be with and strengthen” those we are called to serve (see D&C 20:53).

Quorum and Church Participation and Service

We should serve diligently in our Church callings, perform other Church and quorum duties, and participate in appropriate Church meetings and activities, thereby building the kingdom of God.

Community Participation and Service

We should “honor, obey, and sustain the law; be loyal citizens and good neighbors; and improve the community in which [we] live” (Annual Guidelines, 1978–79: The Melchizedek Priesthood [1978], 1).

  • Show visual 9-b, “A father’s blessing is one way to bless the spiritual lives of others.”

Ordinances

When we are given the Melchizedek Priesthood, we are given the power to bless the spiritual lives of others. The Melchizedek Priesthood “administereth the gospel and holdeth the key … of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest” (see D&C 84:19–21). Through the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood, we can consecrate oil, bless the sick, confer the priesthood and the gift of the Holy Ghost, ordain others to priesthood offices, dedicate graves, give blessings of comfort, bestow father’s blessings on our children, and participate in the higher temple ordinances.

  • How is the power of God manifest in these ordinances? What are some of the blessings that you have received from the Melchizedek Priesthood?

The Specific Duties of Elders and High Priests

Elder

The word elder has two meanings in the Church. It can refer in a general way to a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood. For example, missionaries and many General Authorities have the title of Elder. Elder also refers to a specific office in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

In addition to the responsibilities mentioned in these scriptures, elders are to officiate in any calling that may be required of them. President Joseph F. Smith explained that elders may be asked to work in the temples, labor in the ministry at home, and assist in preaching the gospel to the world (see Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 184–85).

High Priest

The rights and responsibilities of high priests are to preside and to hold all the authority of elders (see D&C 107:10). The calling to preside includes, among others, the offices of General Authority, mission president, stake president, and bishop. As high priests preside in their various callings, they have the power to administer the spiritual blessings of their particular calling.

Conclusion

The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church. Therefore, when we officiate in our priesthood offices as elders and high priests, we can bless both the spiritual and temporal lives of those we serve.

Challenges

Identify the duties of your office in the priesthood and make a plan to better fulfill them.

Identify a specific need in your own home. Decide on a way to become a better father or family member by righteously exercising the priesthood in your home.

Additional Scripture

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Read Doctrine and Covenants 107.

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.