The Savior wants us to love one another. In John, chapter 13, verse 34, He said: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” [John 13:34]
Those of us who hold offices in the Aaronic Priesthood have a special mission to live this commandment. We must pass on the Savior’s love to our fellow quorum members.
Trying to get deacons active will not work if we are not living this commandment. We can visit their homes, make special parties for them, and hassle them on the phone every week. But if we only care about the quorum records or about the mechanics of our job, we won’t succeed. We have to care about the inactive boy himself. His eternal life must be important to us. We must literally love him as we have been loved by the Savior, the kind of love that the Lord expressed when he said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.)
So that’s the first step in getting deacons active. Care. Care enough to find out what they like to do, what problems they have that you can help with. Show them that you’re their friend whether they come to church or not, all the time planning things that will interest them. You’ve got to be willing to make a guy feel like he’s part of your group, even if that means going out of your way.
When boys start feeling that you really care, care about them more than the program, they’ll want to be friends with you and do what you do—be a part of what you are, namely, the deacons quorum. And then the hard part starts: you’ve got to keep them there. You get them there by loving them. But you’ve got to keep them there by having the kind of program boys like. This is where we especially need our advisers and Aaronic Priesthood directors.
Boys like to be busy. They like to improve themselves. They like sports, not just games, but organized, competitive sports. They like Scouting and the sense of achievement that it brings. We need men who care and will work with us to get merit badges and to organize activities. I guess you could say that you keep them there by loving them too. It takes a lot of caring for adults to give us that much time and interest.
In our ward we have had some success with two boys who had been completely inactive. We made friends with them. We took them out for pizza. We planned activities around their special interests. When we told them how much the program had to offer and showed them we really wanted them with us, they decided to give us a try.
Last week they both came to activity night. If we can care enough to make good on our campaign promises and really deliver the good program we’ve promised, and still care about them just as much, we’ll keep these boys, and they will have a chance to work out their salvation.
The inactives need the active deacons to care about them. And we all need the adults to care about us. In return we can offer a great deal. We offer gratitude and admiration for the rest of our lives, and a better world in the future, because it will include the better men you have helped to build.
It is my prayer that we can all live this special commandment to love one another, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.