Elder D. Todd Christofferson
The first to address us was Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve. His message to the Priesthood: become men. “The Church, and the world and women are crying for men,” said Elder Christofferson . “They are crying, ‘Rise Up, O Men of God.’”
Elder Christofferson cited the importance of education and hard work in supporting a family and made reference to statistics from a book, ”The Demise of Guys,” that indicates that females outperform males from elementary school through college. “Women will earn 60 percent of bachelor’s, 63 percent of master’s and 54 percent of doctorate degrees by 2016,” according to the book.
Urging us to be different, Elder Christofferson said, "It cannot be this way with us. We must be men that women can trust, that children can trust and that God can trust.”
Elder Christofferson recounted the story of Amar, a 14-year-old boy from India, who goes to school and works two jobs to provide for a large part of his family’s livelihood. Though having never met Amar, Elder C. said, “I feel proud of him for his diligence and courage. … He is a blessing to his family.”
Priesthood quorums are among the most important places men are needed said Elder C. because "quorums provide spiritual nourishment to others who serve and are a great benefit to missionary work." He used an example of an Aaronic Priesthood quorum in Albuquerque, New Mexico who counseled together about who to bring back to church and then, together, would visit them.
He also said that quorums form a "brotherhood of mutual support." He quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley, who said, “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
Speaking to all of us, but especially to young men, Bishop Gary E. Stevenson of the Presiding Bishopric highlighted the courage of the 2000 stripling warriors. Said Bishop Stevenson, “I invite you to qualify yourselves as did the 2000 stripling soldiers by being valiant priesthood holders. 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. Soon after he arrived, a party was held to greet new students and John and two of his friends decided to go. After a time, the atmosphere at the party changed and students formed a circle to share marijuana cigarettes. When John said he did not want to participate, 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,” said Bishop Stevenson. 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 embarrassment.”
He invited all of us 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.” Bishop Stevenson concluded by quoting President Monson who taught, “To make decisions wisely, courage is needed- the courage to say no, the courage to say yes.”
Elder Anthony D. Perkins
Third up was Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy who warned us 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.
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’.” With this "enemy to God" within us, he spoke about six fundamental principles that will help deepen conversion and strengthen families.
- Prayer - Praying "opens the door for divine help to conquer Satan.
- Study - Reading the scriptures diligently, as well as Church magazines and websites, will enable us "to be counseled in an intimate and personal way by the Lord’s chosen prophet."
- Worthily participating in ordinances - Partaking worthily of the sacrament each week qualifies us to always have his spirit to be with us.
- Showing genuine love - Choosing to control anger will lead to blessings for family members "who should hear blessing from our mouths, not cursings.”
- Obey the law of tithing - Refraining from covetousness comes "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
As he often does, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, used his flying experience to illustrate gospel principles.
Today, he told the story of how he and a friend restored a Piper Cub, an antique airplane, which, when finished, 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. He explained that even though both experiences were quite different, they were also very similar.
Akin to his flying experience, priesthood service can be different depending on the size of a ward or spread of an area, yet it can also be very similar. "The joy of the priesthood is the same everywhere," said President Uchtdorf. “As invigorating and blissful 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 remarked. “As a pilot, I have touched the skies. As a Church member, I have felt heaven’s embrace.”
President Uchtdorf asked us to embrace the wonder and privilege of the priesthood which we can do "by applying the principles of knowledge, obedience and faith.”
“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
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, invited us to help those with whom we have influence. “Angels rejoice," said President Eyring," as priesthood leaders across the world build Zion in their wards, stakes and missions."
He shared an experience he had with his sons. For each , he carved a board which described each one’s spiritual gifts with a scripture and a picture carved in.
He said that as we prayerfully seek to prepare youth to utilize their spiritual gifts, “[God] will help [us] see how to do it, and [we] 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.”
To reach out to the young and help them “aim higher," our habits of family prayer and scripture reading "will create more lasting memories and greater changes of heart than [we] may realize now.”
President Eyring spoke about a fond boyhood experience with his father, who took him to a Yankee baseball game in New York. As memorable as that ball game was, he spoke about an even more memorable experience that “shaped my life forever.” It was when 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 concluded. “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
President Thomas S. Monson was the concluding speaker and he urged us to be anxiously involved in missionary work. “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,” said President Monson.
He recounted a trip he made with President N. Eldon Tanner to a Stake Conference in Alberta, Canada, where names were read of those who had qualified to be ordained elders. President Tanner had lived in Alberta at one time, 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 thought he would make it.’” This continued on through four of the brethren.
“After the meeting," said President Monson, "President Tanner and I had the opportunity to congratulate these four brethren. They had demonstrated that men can change.”
President Monson also told the story of a branch conference in Leadville Colorado. The branch had always been presided over by a missionary. However, on that day, President Monson received an impression that a member should preside over the branch and called on an adult deacon who, according to the mission president, had not attended church 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. Though the man protested, he accepted the call.
“It was the beginning of a new day for that man,” President Monson related. “His life was quickly put in order, and he assured me that he would live the commandments as he was expected to live them.” Having been ordained as priest, in a few months he was ordained an elder, and he and his wife and family eventually were sealed in the temple. Their children served missions and were married 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 urged us to look on those we 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.