Four years ago I attended a memorial service for my brother Gary. One of the speakers paid a great tribute to my brother. I have been thinking about it ever since. He said: “Gary was a priesthood man. … He understood the priesthood, honored the priesthood, and fully embraced the priesthood and its principles.”
When my brother died, he was a high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood, and he had enjoyed 50 years of priesthood service. You are an Aaronic Priesthood holder. You may not even have 50 days of priesthood experience. Gary was a loving husband and father who had served an honorable full-time mission, married in the temple, magnified his priesthood callings, and served diligently as a home teacher. Your priesthood service is just beginning. But you can be worthy of the same tribute he received. In fact, you should be worthy of that tribute. The Lord has called you to a wonderful work, and He expects you to be a priesthood man.
Just think about the greatness of the Aaronic Priesthood that you bear:
The Lord sent the resurrected John the Baptist to restore the Aaronic Priesthood. When John conferred this priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, he called them his “fellow servants” (D&C 13:1). President Gordon B. Hinckley pointed out that John “did not place himself above Joseph and Oliver. He put them on his same level when he addressed them as ‘my fellow servants.’” President Hinckley went on to say that a 12-year-old deacon can also be John’s fellow servant (see “The Aaronic Priesthood—a Gift from God,” Ensign, May 1988, 45).
The Aaronic Priesthood holds the key of the ministering of angels (see D&C 13:1). As you live righteously and serve diligently, you can receive the ministering of angels to guide and strengthen you. Through your administration of the sacrament, you can help others receive this blessing as well (see Dallin H. Oaks, “The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 37–39).
The Aaronic Priesthood “holds the keys of … the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13:1). Repentance and baptism join to form the gate that people enter to start on the path to eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:17–18). Acting under the authority of your priesthood leaders, you can help people open this gate.
The Aaronic Priesthood includes the authority to administer the sacrament. When you prepare, bless, or pass the sacrament, you represent Jesus Christ (see 3 Nephi 18:1–12). You help your family members and friends remember Him, renew their covenants, and qualify for the companionship of the Holy Spirit.
Such opportunities require the work of priesthood men—men who are spiritually strong and who fulfill their priesthood duties.
Under the direction of our living prophets, a resource has been prepared to help you be a priesthood man. Although the resource is new, it has a familiar name: Duty to God.
I am excited about the new Duty to God book. It can help you obey the Lord’s command to “learn [your] duty” and “act in the office in which [you are] appointed, in all diligence” (D&C 107:99).
Using the book as a deacon, teacher, and priest, you will participate in activities in two categories: spiritual strength and priesthood duties.
Each activity in the Duty to God book follows a pattern that will help you become the priesthood holder the Lord wants you to become: First, you learn about a gospel principle or a priesthood duty. Then you act on what you have learned. Finally, you share your thoughts and feelings about what you have learned and experienced. Some of these activities are personal. Others may be adapted for your entire quorum to use in Sunday lessons and in activities during the week.
The following sample from the book shows how this pattern works. The comments to the side are from young men who have already had great experiences with the new book.
When I think of the phrase “priesthood man,” I obviously think of my brother Gary. But I also think of others. I think of President Thomas S. Monson, who, as a deacon, felt that he stood on holy ground when he helped a disabled man partake of the sacrament (see “Do Your Duty—That Is Best,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 56). I think of John the Baptist, the great Aaronic Priesthood holder who prepared the way for the Savior’s mortal ministry by teaching, testifying, and administering the sacred ordinance of baptism. And I think of you. As you grow in spiritual strength and help others come unto Christ through your priesthood service, you are truly a priesthood man.