Elder D. Todd Christofferson
“Brethren, We Have Work To Do”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve opened the Priesthood Session of General Conference by asking those in the Priesthood to become men.
“The Church, and the world and women are crying for men,” Elder Christofferson said. “They are crying, ‘Rise Up, O Men of God.'”
Elder Christofferson spoke of the importance of education and hard work in supporting a family. “It is essential that you become proficient so that you can support a family and make a contribution for good in your community and your country.”
He cited statistics from a book, “The Demise of Guys,” that stated girls out-perform boys from elementary school through college. The book also says, “Women will earn 60 percent of bachelor’s, 63 percent of master’s and 54 percent of doctorate degrees by 2016.”
Elder Christofferson urged the men of the priesthood to be different. “Brethren, it cannot be this way with us,” Elder Christofferson said. “We must be men that women can trust, that children can trust and that God can trust.”
He told the story of a 14-year-old boy from India named Amar. Amar goes to school and works two jobs to provide for a substantial part of his family’s livelihood. Though Elder Christofferson has never met Amar, he said, “I feel proud of him for his diligence and courage. … He is a blessing to his family.”
One of the most important places that men are needed, Elder Christofferson said, is in priesthood quorums. Quorums provide spiritual nourishment to others who serve and are a great benefit to missionary work. He told the story of an Aaronic Priesthood quorum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Together they counseled about who to bring back to church and then, as a group would visit them.
He also said that quorums form a brotherhood of mutual support. He quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley, “It will be a marvelous day … when our priesthood quorums become an anchor of strength to every man belonging thereto.”
“Brethren, we have work to do,” Elder Christofferson said, but he also promised help. “We have a perfect Master who wrought a perfect Atonement. … As we repent and purge our souls, we are promised that we will be taught and endowed with power from on high.”
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
“Be Valiant in Courage, Strength, and Activity”
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson of the Presiding Bishopric spoke especially to the young men about becoming courageous like the 2,000 stripling warriors.
“I invite you to qualify yourselves as did the 2,000 stripling soldiers by being valiant priesthood holders,” Bishop Stevenson said. “Remember, what you do, where you go and what you see will shape who you become.”
He told the story of his friend John, who was accepted at a university in Japan. Along with other top students from around the world, John attended the university as a stepping stone to eventually be employed in Japan.
Soon after they arrived a party was held as a social icebreaker, and John and two of his friends decided to go. Eventually, Bishop Stevenson said, the atmosphere at the party changed and students organized in a circle to share marijuana cigarettes. John didn’t want to participate, and one of his friends ridiculed him for it. “In a moment, he mustered his courage and told them that they could do as they wished, but he was leaving.”
After John and one friend left, the police arrived and arrested many of the party goers. Most of the students were expelled from the university, and many were deported.
“Young men,” Bishop Stevenson said, “there will be times when you, like John, will have to demonstrate your righteous courage in plain view of your peers, the consequence of which may be ridicule and embarassment.”
He invited everyone to qualify, as the stripling soldiers did, “By being valiant in courage as worthy priesthood holders … become a worthy deacon, a worthy teacher, a worthy priest.”
He quoted President Monson, who counseled, “To make decisions wisely, courage is needed — the courage to say no, the courage to say yes.”
Elder Anthony D. Perkins
“Beware Concerning Yourselves”
Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy warned priesthood holders to heed the “Beware” signs placed along our way by God just as we would on a road.
“If men keep the priesthood covenant to ‘beware concerning yourselves,’ we and our families can be assured of safely reaching our exalted destination in the Celestial Kingdom,” Elder Perkins said.
The oath and covenant of the priesthood gives the warning “to beware concerning yourselves.” Elder Perkins asked, “Why would God command us to beware?” He then offered the answer: “God knows that lurking within priesthood holders is a ‘natural man.'”
He offered six fundamental principles that will help deepen conversion and strengthen families.
Prayer — “Praying always opens the door for divine help to ‘conquer Satan.'”
Study — “We should diligently read the scriptures, as well as Church magazines and websites that enable us to ‘be counseled in an intimate and personal way by (the Lord’s) chosen prophet.'”
Worthily participating in ordinances — “Worthily partaking of the sacrament each week qualifies members to ‘always have his spirit to be with them.'”
Showing genuine love — “Choose to control anger. Family members should hear blessing from our mouths, not cursings.”
Obey the law of tithing — “Covetousness is restrained as we project our income, pay an honest tithe and generous fast offering … and become temporally self-reliant.”
Fully live the law of chastity — “Living the law of chastity yields confidence to stand ‘in the presence of God’ with the Holy Ghost as our ‘constant companion.'”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“The Joy of the Priesthood”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, used his flying experience to illustrate the joy all can realize in the priesthood.
Many years ago, President Uchtdorf and a friend restored a Piper Cub, an antique airplane. It was something they had wanted to do for some time, and when finished, it was a joy to fly. “It was the perfect way to experience the wonder and beauty of flight,” President Uchtdorf said.
He contrasted a time earlier this year when he had the opportunity to fly a sophisticated F-18 fighter jet with the Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s flight demonstration team. “The F-18 flight experience, of course, was totally different from the one in the Piper Cub. It showed me a more dynamic beauty of flying,” he said. “If you were to ask me which of these two flying experiences I enjoyed more, I’m not sure I could tell you.” He explained that even though both experiences were quite different, they were also very similar.
Much like his flying experience, while priesthood service can be different depending on the size of a ward or spread of an area, the joy of the priesthood is the same everywhere.
“As invigorating and blissful as my experiences as a pilot were, my experiences as a member of this Church have been much deeper, more joyful and far more profound.” President Uchtdorf said, “As a pilot, I have touched the skies. As a Church member, I have felt heaven’s embrace.”
President Uchtdorf asked all to embrace the wonder and privilege of the priesthood. “We can do this by applying the principles of knowledge, obedience and faith.”
First, he said, we need to know the doctrine of the priesthood. Next, use wisdom and act upon knowledge constantly. Finally, President Uchtdorf said, deepen our faith in Jesus Christ.
“As we honor the holy priesthood, God will honor us, and we will stand blameless before Him at the last day,” President Uchtdorf concluded. “That we may always have eyes to see and a heart to feel the wonder and joy of the priesthood of our great and mighty God, is my prayer.”
President Henry B. Eyring
“Help Them Aim High”
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, invited all to help those with whom they have influence to aim a little higher.
“Angels rejoice as priesthood leaders across the world build Zion in their wards, stakes and missions,” President Eyring said. “Zion is the result of people bound by covenant and love. I invite you to help our youth to join.”
He spoke of the experience he had with his sons. For each of them, he carved a board which described each one’s spiritual gifts with a carved scripture and picture. Each was specific to each boy and their specific gifts.
He asked that people prayerfully seek to prepare the youth to utilize their spiritual gifts. “He will help you see how to do it for your children, or for other youth,” President Eyring said. “But as you prayerfully seek to glimpse this future yourself, you will come to know that God knows and loves each of His children as individuals, and sees great and unique gifts in each of them.”
President Eyring offered ways for parents and leaders to reach out to the young and help them “aim higher.” “Your habits of family prayer and scripture reading will create more lasting memories and greater changes of heart than you may realize now.”
President Eyring related an experience he had with his father as a boy. One day his father took him to a Yankee game in the Bronx, and he still remembers it fondly. But he compared it to a time that, “shaped my life forever.” His father took him to Salt Lake City, where President Eyring met with an ordained patriarch and received his patriarchal blessing.
“That blessing of my possibilities has shaped my life, my marriage and my priesthood service.”
“God knows our gifts,” President Eyring said. “My challenge to you and to me is to pray to know the gifts we have been given, to know how to develop them and to recognize the opportunities to serve others.”
President Thomas S. Monson
“See Others As They May Become”
President Thomas S. Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, urged priesthood members to be actively involved in missionary work with all those around them.
“We have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become. I would plead with you to think of them in this way,” President Monson said.
He told the story of a trip he made with President N. Eldon Tanner to a Stake Conference in Alberta. During the meeting, names were read of those who had qualified to be ordained elders. President Tanner for a time had lived in the area, and as the names were read, he recognized them as people he once knew.
“The stake president read the name of the first man and asked him to stand,” President Monson said. “President Tanner whispered to me, ‘Look at him. I never though he would make it.'” This continued on through four of the brethren.
President Monson, as a mission president in Canada, had a branch that was always presided over by a missionary. President Monson received the impression that a member should preside over the branch there and called on an adult deacon who didn’t attend enough to be advanced in the priesthood. “I shall always remember the day that I had an interview with him. I told him that the Lord had inspired me to call him to be the president of the branch,” President Monson said.
The man protested but eventually was ordained a priest and was eventually sealed to his family in the temple.
“Sometimes letting our brethren know they are needed and valued can help them take that step into commitment and full activity,” President Monson said.
He asked that people look on those they serve not as they are but as they can become, especially in missionary work. He said that we each have the mandate to share the Gospel of Christ.
“I pray that we will have the courage to extend the hand of fellowship, the tenacity to try and try again and the humility needed to seek guidance from our Father as we fulfill our mandate to share the gospel,” President Monson said.