This article was adapted from my new book, The Three Pillars of Zion. (Click here to receive a free sample.)
Could anyone have misunderstood President Packer’s Conference address when he called all priesthood holders to convert their authority into power? That call from an apostle hearkens to the priesthood call mentioned in the Priesthood Covenant and what is referred to as the Constitution of the Priesthood. It is the call that distinguishes those who are called from those who are chosen.
We now must awaken in every elder and high priest, in every quorum and group, and in the father of every home the power of the priesthood of the Almighty…. We need everyone. The tired or worn out or lazy and even those who are bound down with guilt must be restored through repentance and forgiveness.
Sisters, he said, are not excluded. “Unless we enlist the attention of the mothers and daughters and sisters—who have influence on their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers—we cannot progress. The priesthood will lose great power if the sisters are neglected.”
What is at stake?
Now, fathers, I would remind you of the sacred nature of your calling. You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary’s mischief will be that power. You will receive direction from the Lord by way of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Constitution of the Priesthood
President Stephen L Richards called Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46 “The Constitution of the Priesthood.” Here is the constitution:
Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
This constitution contains some the greatest blessings and one of the harshest indictments pronounced by the Lord upon priesthood holders. Endowed women are not exempt. The denouncement, “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen,” applies equally to them. Anyone who has entered into the new and everlasting covenant and received the priesthood blessings of the temple should understand the principles contained in the Constitution of the Priesthood. Therefore, women can benefit from this discussion.
First, we must point out that the call referenced in the Constitution of the Priesthood hearkens to the calling in the oath and covenant of the priesthood:
For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling [not callings], are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.