Honoring Priesthood and Womanhood

Principles of Leadership Teachers Manual Religion 180R, (2001), 64–70

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Principle of Leadership

Church and family leaders should work in harmony with priesthood principles.

Lesson Concepts

  1. 1.

    The kingdom of God is governed by the priesthood.

  2. 2.

    We should honor the priesthood, and we should honor womanhood.

  3. 3.

    Leaders should respect those called to preside in the Lord’s kingdom.

Concept 1. The Kingdom of God Is Governed by the Priesthood.


President David O. McKay taught: “The greatest safeguard we have for unity and strength in the Church is found in the priesthood, by honoring and respecting it. Oh, my brethren—presidents of stakes, bishops of wards, and all who hold the priesthood—God bless you in your leadership, in your responsibility to guide, to bless, to comfort the people whom you have been appointed to preside over and to visit. Guide them to go to the Lord and seek inspiration so to live that they may rise above the low and the mean, and live in the spiritual realm” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 6).

Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, explained: “Holding the priesthood is more than just a great blessing. It also carries with it significant responsibilities such as watching over the Church; honoring all women, especially our wives, our mothers, our daughters, our sisters; visiting the home of each member, exhorting each ‘to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties’ [D&C 20:47] and to ‘stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places’ [Mosiah 18:9]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 50–51; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 37).

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve testified: “To all mankind we proclaim these everlasting truths: ‘The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world’ (D&C 107:8). This power holds ‘the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church’ (D&C 107:18). May we fully honor that priesthood” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 53; or Ensign, May 1993, 41).

Teaching Idea

Invite two or three students who work for organizations (for example stores or companies) to describe how they are organized. How do the people in the organization get the authority to do their jobs?

Ask how the Church is structured and where it received its authority.

Consider having a volunteer draw a diagram of how a ward, branch, or stake is organized. Have the volunteer explain the diagram. Or you could invite a returned missionary to describe how a mission is structured and the advantages of that organization for doing the Lord’s work.


  • How do priesthood leaders at the different levels watch over the members?

  • How successful would the Church be if priesthood authority were suddenly removed? Why?

Explain that from time to time the Lord inspires the Church’s leaders to make organizational changes to meet the needs of the expanding Church.

Concept 2. We Should Honor the Priesthood, and We Should Honor Womanhood.


Elder Russell M. Nelson explained: “This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He who stands at the head of His restored Church so ordered His priesthood ‘that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world’ (D&C 1:20). Remarkable! He chose to honor us with His priesthood. So we honor Him by honoring His priesthood—both its power and those who bear it. By so doing, men, women, and children throughout the world will be blessed. Honoring the priesthood fosters respect, respect promotes reverence, and reverence invites revelation” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 49; or Ensign, May 1993, 38).

President N. Eldon Tanner, who was a Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “No man, young or old, who holds the priesthood of God can honor that priesthood without honoring and respecting womanhood. Any young man should be prepared to protect a woman’s virtue with his life, if necessary, and never be guilty of lusting after a woman or doing anything that would degrade her or cause her to lose her virtue. Every young woman has a perfect right to feel safe in going out with a young man holding the priesthood, knowing that he will respect and protect her in every way” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 124; or Ensign, July 1973, 95).

President Spencer W. Kimball gave the following reminder: “Tonight I plan to speak to the priesthood brethren, assembled in hundreds of locations around the world, and remind them that ‘we have all been blessed with special women in our lives who have had a deep and lasting influence upon us. Their contribution has been and is important to us [brethren] and is something which will be of everlasting value to us.’ (See Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 48.) I wish to emphasize that thought this morning. I cannot impress upon all of us too strongly the high place of honor and respect our wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters hold in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 6–7; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 5).

Teaching Idea

Ask the sisters what men should do to honor their priesthood, and discuss their answers. Ask the brethren how priesthood holders can honor womanhood.

What blessings come to women because of priesthood authority? (Answers should include gospel ordinances.)

Have students read D&C 121:34–46 and list principles of leadership that apply to all Church and family leaders.

Concept 3. Leaders Should Respect Those Called to Preside In the Lord’s Kingdom.


President David O. McKay counseled: “Recognize those who preside over you and, when necessary, seek their advice. The Savior himself recognized this authority on earth. You will remember the experience that Paul had just as he neared Damascus with papers in his pocket to arrest all who believed in Jesus Christ. A light suddenly shone about him, and he heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’

“And Saul said: ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.’ (Acts 9:4, 6.)

“He could have told Saul in a few words what he should do, but there was a branch of the Church in Damascus, presided over by a humble man named Ananias, and Jesus recognized that authority. …

“Here is a lesson for all of us in this Church. Let us, too, recognize the local authority. The bishop may be a humble man. Some of you may think you are superior to him, and you may be, but he is given authority direct from our Father in heaven. Recognize it. Seek his advice and the advice of your stake president. If they cannot answer your difficulties or your problems, they will write to the General Authorities and get the advice needed. Recognition of authority is an important principle” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 6–7).

Teaching Idea

Ask if anyone has attended a general conference. If someone has, ask what the congregation does when the President of the Church enters. (They stand and become quiet until he takes his seat.) Why does the congregation respond this way?

Discuss the following questions:

  • Why would it be inappropriate to seek counsel from a friend’s priesthood leader in another ward or stake, rather than from your own?

  • What lessons can we learn from Paul’s experience in Acts 9:6? (see the commentary).

  • The stake president announces that a new bishop will be sustained in your ward next Sunday. You know several members of your ward you feel would make excellent bishops. To your surprise, the stake president calls a man you did not think of as a strong leader. What should you do? Why is it important to always sustain those the Lord calls?

  • A friend of yours has a doctrinal question and plans to write a General Authority because he thinks that will be the best source for an answer. What is wrong with that plan?

  • Why is the adage true: “A great leader is also a great follower”?

Teacher Resources

Russell M. Nelson