181conference

We Are All Enlisted
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Now, you brethren of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Don’t smile and settle back into the comfort of your seats. I am not through.  We need thousands of more couples serving in the missions of the Church.  Every mission president pleads for them.  Everywhere they serve, our couples bring a maturity to the work that no number of nineteen year olds, however good they are, can provide.

To encourage more couples to serve, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have made one of the boldest and most generous moves seen in missionary work in the last 50 years.  In May of this year priesthood leaders in the field received a notice that housing costs for couples (and we speak only of housing costs) would be supplemented by Church missionary funds if the cost exceeds a pre-determined amount per month. What a blessing! This is heaven-sent assistance toward the single largest expense our couples face on their missions.  The Brethren have also determined that couple missions can be for six or twelve months, as well as the traditional eighteen or twenty-four.  In another wonderful gesture, permission is given for couples, at their own expense, to return home briefly for critical family events.  And stop worrying that you are going to have to knock on doors or keep the same schedule as the nineteen year olds!  We don’t ask you to do that, but have a host of other things you can do with a great deal of latitude in how you do them.

Brethren, for good and sufficient health, family or economic reasons, we realize some of you may not be able to go just now or perhaps ever.  But with a little planning many of you can.

Bishops and stake presidents, discuss this need in your councils and conferences.  Sit on the stand in your meetings and prayerfully look into the congregation for impressions about those who should receive a call.  Then counsel with them and help them set a date for service.  Brethren, when that happens, tell your wives that if you can leave your recliner and remote control for a few short months, they can leave the grandchildren.  Those little darlings will be just fine and I promise you will do things for them in the service of the Lord that, worlds without end, you could never do if you stayed home to hover over them.  What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word, “In this family we serve missions!”

Missionary work isn’t the only thing we need to do in this big, wide wonderful Church.  But almost everything else we need to do depends on people first hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ and coming into the faith.  Surely that is why Jesus’s final charge to the Twelve was just that basic—to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Then, and only then, can the rest of the blessings of the gospel come—family solidarity, youth programs, priesthood promises and ordinances flowing right up to the temple.  But as Nephi testified, none of that can come until one has “entered into the . . . gate.” With all that there is to do along the path to eternal life, we need a lot more missionaries opening that gate and helping others through it.

From every man, young and old, who bears the priesthood I ask for a stronger and more devoted voice, a voice not only against evil and him who is the personification of it, but a voice for good, a voice for the gospel, a voice for God.  Brethren of all ages, unbind your tongues and watch your words work wonders in the lives of those who are only “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.”  “Haste to the battle, quick to the field; Truth is our helmet, buckler, and shield.  Stand by our colors; proudly they wave!  We’re joyfully, joyfully marching to our home.”  

The Power of the Aaronic Priesthood

Bishop Keith B. McMullin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

“The power and authority of the . . . Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.”  President Boyd K. Packer has observed:  “We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood.  We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. . . .  But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood.”  For the everlasting welfare of God’s children, this must be remedied.

Our prophet has told us how this can be done.  President Monson said:  “I want to see the power of the priesthood strengthened. . . .   I want to see this strength and power diffused through the entire body of the Priesthood, reaching from the head down to the . . . least and most humble deacon in the Church.  Every man should seek for and enjoy the revelations of God, the light of heaven shining in his soul and giving unto him knowledge concerning his duties, concerning that portion of the work that devolves upon him in his Priesthood.”

What can a deacon, teacher, or priest do to receive the spirit of revelation and magnify his calling? He can live so as to enjoy the cleansing, sanctifying, and illuminating power of the Holy Ghost. 

The importance of this is found in these words from Alma:  “Now I say unto you that this is the order after which I am called . . . to preach unto . . . the rising generation . . . that they must repent and be born again.”  When one is born again, his heart is changed.  He has no appetite for things evil or unclean.  He feels a deep and abiding love for God.  He wants to be good, to serve others, and to keep the commandments.

President Joseph F. Smith described his experience with this mighty change.  “The feeling that came over me was that of pure peace, of love and of light.  I felt in my soul that if I had sinned . . . it had been forgiven me; that I was indeed cleansed from sin; my heart was touched, and I felt that I would not injure the smallest insect beneath my feet.  I felt as if I wanted to do good everywhere to everybody and to everything.  I felt a newness of life, a newness of desire to do that which was right.  There was not one particle of desire for evil left in my soul.  I was but a little boy, it is true . . . but this was the influence that came upon me, and I know it was from God, and was and ever has been a living witness to me of my acceptance of the Lord.”

So we call upon you wonderful young brethren to diligently strive to be “born again.”   Pray for this mighty change in your life.

  Study the scriptures.  Desire more than all else to know God and to become like His Holy Son.


  Enjoy your youth, but put away “childish things”:

 

  • Shun profane and foolish chatter.
  • Flee all evil.
  • Avoid contention.
  • Repent where needed.

This will help you rise to the noble stature of your manhood.  The qualities of courage, trustworthiness, humility, faith, and goodness will be yours.  Friends will admire you, parents will praise you, brethren in the priesthood will depend on you, and the young women will adore you and become even better because of you.  God will honor you and endow your priesthood service with power from on high.

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Elder W. Christopher Waddell
Of the Seventy

A few years ago, Elder Javier Misiego, from Madrid, Spain, was serving a full-time mission in Arizona.  At that time, his mission call to the United States appeared somewhat unusual, as most young men from Spain were being called to serve in their own country. 

At the conclusion of a stake fireside, where he and his companion had been invited to participate, Elder Misiego was approached by a less-active member of the church.  Brought by a friend, it was the first time this man had been inside a chapel in years. Elder Misiego was asked if, by chance, he might know a Jose Misiego, in Madrid.  When Elder Misiego responded that his father’s name was Jose Misiego, the man excitedly asked a few more questions… to confirm that this was THE Jose Misiego.  When it was determined that they were speaking about the same man, this less active member began to weep.  “He was the only person I baptized during my entire mission”, he explained, and described how his mission had been, in his mind, a failure.  He attributed his years of inactivity to some feelings of inadequacy and depression, believing that he had somehow let the Lord down. 

Elder Misiego then described what this “supposed failure” of a missionary meant to his family.  He told him that his father, baptized as a young single adult, had married in the temple… that Elder Misego was the fourth of six children, all born in the covenant…that all three boys and a sister had served full-time missions…that all were active in the church and, that all who were married, had been sealed in the temple. 

The less-active, returned missionary began to sob.  Through his efforts, scores of lives had been impacted and blessed, and the Lord had sent an Elder from Madrid, Spain all the way to a fireside in Arizona, to let him know that he had not been a failure.  The Lord knows where He wants each missionary to serve…and why.

In whatever manner the Lord may choose to bless us during the course of a mission, the blessings of missionary service are not designed to end when we are released by our stake president. Your mission is a training ground for life. The experiences, lessons, testimony and knowledge, obtained through faithful service are meant to provide a gospel centered foundation that will last throughout mortality and into the eternities. 

Providing in the Lord’s Way

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

There are many good people and organizations in the world that are trying to meet the pressing needs of the poor and needy everywhere. We are grateful for this, but the Lord’s way of caring for the needy is different from the world’s way. The Lord has said, “it must needs be done in mine own way.” He is not interested only in our immediate needs; He is concerned about our eternal progression. For this reason, the Lord’s way has always included self-reliance and service to our neighbor, in addition to care for the poor.

In 1941 the Gila River overflowed and flooded the Duncan Valley in Arizona. A young stake president by the name of Spencer W. Kimball met with his counselors, assessed the damage, and sent a telegram to Salt Lake City asking for a large sum of money.

Instead of sending money, President Heber J. Grant sent three men: Henry D. Moyle, Marion G. Romney, and Harold B. Lee. They visited with President Kimball and taught him an important lesson: “This isn’t a program of ‘give me,’” they said. “This is a program of ‘self-help.’”

Many years later, President Kimball said: “It would have been an easy thing, I think, for the Brethren to have sent us [the money] and it wouldn’t have been too hard to sit in my office and distribute it; but what a lot of good came to us as we had hundreds of [our own] go to Duncan and build fences and haul the hay and level the ground and do all the things that needed doing. That is self-help.”

By following the Lord’s way, the members of President Kimball’s stake not only had their immediate needs met, but they also developed self-reliance, alleviated suffering, and grew in love and unity as they served each other.

This very hour there are many members of the Church who are suffering. They are hungry, stretched financially, and struggling with all manner of physical, emotional, and spiritual distress. They pray with all the energy of their souls for succor, for relief.

Brethren, please do not think that this is someone else’s responsibility. It is mine, and it is yours. We are all enlisted. “All” means all—every Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holder, rich and poor, in every nation. In the Lord’s plan, there is something everyone can contribute.

The lesson we learn generation after generation is that rich and poor are all under the same sacred obligation to help their neighbor. It will take all of us working together to successfully apply the principles of welfare and self-reliance.

Too often, we notice the needs around us hoping that someone from far away will magically appear to meet those needs. Perhaps we wait for experts with specialized knowledge to solve specific problems. When we do this, we deprive our neighbor of the service we could render, and we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to serve. While there is nothing wrong with experts, let’s face it: there will never be enough of them to solve all problems. Instead, the Lord has placed His priesthood and its organization at our doorsteps all around the globe. And, right by its side, He has placed the Relief Society. As we priesthood holders know, no welfare effort is successful if it fails to make use of the remarkable gifts and talents of our sisters.

The Lord’s way is not to sit at the side of the stream and wait for the water to pass before we cross. It is to come together, roll up our sleeves, go to work, and build a bridge or a boat to cross the waters of our challenges. You men of Zion, you priesthood holders, are the ones who can lead out and bring relief to the Saints by applying the inspired principles of the welfare program! It is your mission to open your eyes, use your priesthood, and go to work in the Lord’s way.

Preparation in the Priesthood

“I Need Your Help”

President Henry B. Eyring
Of the First Presidency

I was an inexperienced priest in a large ward.

  My bishop called me on the phone one Sunday afternoon.


  When I answered he said, “Do you have the time to go with me.  I need your help.”  He explained only that he wanted me as his companion to visit a woman I did not know but that she was without food and needed to learn how to manage her finances better.

 

I realized that he had two seasoned counselors in his bishopric.  Both were mature men of great experience.  One counselor was the owner of a large business who later became a mission president and a General Authority.  The other counselor was a prominent judge.

I was the bishop’s newly called first assistant in the priests quorum.  He knew that I understood little about welfare principles.  I knew even less about personal finances.  I had not yet written a check, had no bank account, or had even seen a personal budget.  Yet, despite my inexperience, I sensed that he was deadly serious when he said, “I need your help.”

I have come to understand what that inspired bishop meant.  He saw in me a golden opportunity to prepare a priesthood holder in whom he saw promise.  I am sure that he did not foresee in that untrained boy a future member of the Presiding Bishopric.  But he treated me that day, and all the days I knew him over the years, as a preparation project he loved to work on.

He seemed to enjoy it, but it was work for him.  On our return to my home after we visited the widow in need, he parked the car.  He opened his well-worn and heavily marked scriptures.  He gave me kindly correction.  He told me that I needed to study more and to learn more.  But he saw that I was weak and simple enough to be teachable.  To this day I remember what he taught.  But even more I remember how I felt his confidence that I could learn and be better, and that I would be better.

He saw beyond the reality of who I was to the possibilities that lie inside someone who feels weak and simple enough to want the Lord’s help and to believe that it will come.

Bishops, mission presidents, and fathers can choose to act on those possibilities.  I saw it happen recently during the testimony of a deacons quorum president.  He was about to become a teacher and leave his quorum members behind.  He said in his testimony that when he was called to be the president it was a sign that God saw the possibilities.

He testified with great feeling in his voice of the growth in goodness and power in the members of his quorum.  He praised their service.  And then he said that he knew that he had been able to help the new deacons when they felt overwhelmed because he had felt that way when he came into the priesthood.

His feelings of weakness had made him more patient, more sympathetic, and therefore better able to strengthen and serve others.  In those two years he had become seasoned and wise.  He had learned that he was helped by a clear and vivid memory of his own needs when he was two years younger.  His challenge and ours will come when such memories fade and grow dim through time and success.

“Dare to Stand Alone”

President Thomas S. Monson
President:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

We read in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 121, verse 36, that “The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.”  What a wonderful gift we have been given—to hold the priesthood, which is “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.”  This precious gift, however, brings with it not only special blessings, but also solemn responsibilities.  We must conduct our lives so that we are every worthy of the priesthood we bear.  We live in a time when we are surrounded by much that is intended to entice us into paths which may lead to destruction.  To avoid such paths requires determination and courage.

I recall a time—and some of you here tonight will also—when the standards of most people were very similar to our standards.  No longer is this true.  I recently read an article in The New York Times concerning a study which took place during the summer of 2008.  A distinguished Notre Dame sociologist led a research team in conducting in depth interviews with 230 young adults across America.  I believe we can safely assume that the results would be similar in most parts of the world.

I share with you just a portion of this very telling article.  “The interviewers asked open-ended questions about right and wrong, moral dilemmas and the meaning of life.  In the rambling answers…you see the young people groping to say anything sensible on these matters.  But they just don’t have the categories or vocabulary to do so.

“When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people either couldn’t answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all, like whether they could afford to rent a certain apartment or whether they had enough quarters to feed the meter at a parking spot.”

The article continues, “The default position, which most of them came back to again and again is that the moral choices are just a matter of individual taste.  ‘It’s personal,’ the respondents typically said.  “It’s up to the individual.  Who am I to say?”

“Rejecting blind deference to authority, many of the young people have gone off to the other extreme [saying]:  “I would do what I thought made me happy or how I felt.  I have no other way of knowing what to do but how I internally feel.”

Those who conducted the interviews emphasized that the majority of the young people with whom they spoke had “not been given the resources—by schools, institutions or families—to cultivate their moral intuitions.”

Brethren, none with the sound of my voice should be in any doubt concerning what is moral and what is not, nor should any be in doubt about what is expected of us as holders of the priesthood of God.  We have been and continue to be taught God’s laws.  Despite what you may see or hear elsewhere, these laws are unchanging.