Jump in a cold swimming pool and suddenly all your senses will be aware of the water. You know water surrounds you.
But if you stand on the side and watch someone else jump in the water, does it mean that water has nothing to do with you? No, of course not. You still drink water, feel rain on your face, bathe, know that water is in every plant and animal around you, and even realize that your own body is made up mostly of water.
Sometimes, as a young woman, you might see young men and the priesthood as someone else doing the swimming and so think priesthood has nothing to do with you. In fact, the priesthood of God is as important to you spiritually as the water you drink is physically.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the priesthood is the everlasting power of God that is without beginning of days or end of years (see Teachings, p. 157). Brigham Young further explained that it is the power by which the universe was created and all things are governed (see Discourses, p. 130).
From the daily practices of our church we know that priesthood offices are given to worthy males so that they may serve others and build the kingdom of God with the assistance of the true power of God.
So where does a woman fit into this endless creating, governing, and serving—especially a young woman in her teens? How does the priesthood relate to you?
First, we need to remember that all are alike unto Christ. He favors no particular group or class of people. Nephi wrote that the Lord “doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Ne. 26:33).
But just because all are alike in God’s love and concern does not mean that he needs or wants all of his children to be identical in roles and responsibilities. Young women need to be young women and young men need to be young men, and within each group there is not only room for, but need for even further diversity. The Apostle Paul explained this very point to the members in the ancient city of Corinth. Paul explained that the members of Christ’s church are all baptized unto a single body, called the body of Christ, but the parts or members of the body are not all alike.
“For the body is not one member, but many …
“If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. …
“And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:14, 17–18, 21).
Paul further explains that all are not apostles, nor are all teachers, and that there are diversities in callings and talents, but “it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor. 12:6).
Each of you can be your own member of the body with no concern that you aren’t just like another, for each part is needed for its uniqueness and none can say to the other, “I have no need of thee.”
Continue the analogy of the Church being like a body just a bit further, and we can compare the priesthood to the lifeblood that flows through every part of the body. The power and blessings of the priesthood nourish each member and are the source of strength just as blood is to the body. It circulates throughout, that power of God that “worketh all in all.”
You may hardly have been aware of the power of the priesthood in your early life. For before you were even conscious of it, it was the power that may have sealed you to your parents, or the power through which you were given a name and blessing in infancy.
It was also the power of the priesthood that was used to call and set apart that Primary teacher who held a small girl’s hand on your first day of Primary. That same power nourished the calling of the woman who taught you all those wonderful Primary songs, as well as the leader who stood beside you while you gave your first talk.
By the time of baptism a girl understands that an ordinance comes correctly only at the hand of one who has been properly ordained, for God’s house is a house of order.
But as you reach an age of maturity, you do not stand aside while only ordained priesthood holders build the kingdom of God. Priesthood holders are given specific offices with the right to perform sacred ordinances as a service to all members. And women are also called and set apart by the power of the priesthood to perform many great and varied services.
When a bishop places his hands on the head of a Beehive class president, it is with the full power of the priesthood that he gives her the delegated authority to lead her class. Her calling to serve is no less potent or real than that of the Sunday School president, the Relief Society president, or any other position in the ward.
You may be called upon to lead, to teach, or even to go out and preach the gospel as a missionary, and with each calling you will be given power through the priesthood to perform the job that you need to do. As you are released, that stewardship and authority are passed on to another. But realize the source of your calling and look to the strength that you can find from the power of the priesthood to complete your assignment.
Also, don’t overlook the additional blessings you may receive through the priesthood from those ordained to serve with that power. All members of a family may ask for a father’s blessing in any time of need. A father is often honored when given the opportunity to bless a daughter. Ordained patriarchs also may give patriarchal blessings that can offer guidance and comfort for a lifetime.
As an adult, a woman who is a worthy member of Christ’s restored church may go to the temple where she will enter into sacred priesthood covenants and prepare herself for special priesthood blessings.
Before a young man is endowed in the temple he will usually prepare for his temple covenants for several years through service and instruction in the Aaronic Priesthood quorums. In fact, the Aaronic Priesthood is referred to in the scriptures as the “preparatory” priesthood (see D&C 84:26). Similarly, you prepare yourself with service and instruction.
You may have the opportunity to marry, and as you are sealed in a holy temple you are eternally joined to your husband and the priesthood to which he is ordained. Within marriage you may also have the sacred opportunity for motherhood, wherein the priesthood will continue to be a great blessing to you and your children.
As a young woman, your relationship to the priesthood may not be as apparent as your brother’s, who passes the sacrament or attends priesthood quorum meetings. But the importance of the priesthood in your life is no less real. It is a power by which you and those you serve are blessed. The priesthood is the power of the God who loves you and offers you blessings beyond imagination if you will only seek righteousness.