“The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!” said President Russell M. Nelson in his general conference talk “A Plea to My Sisters.”
Helping women, particularly young women, see their value and need in the Church is something the General Young Women Presidency of the Church, led by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, feels passionate about.
“As we were out traveling and training with Young Women leaders, on several occasions I would ask Young Women leaders, ‘How do the young women that you supervise in your classes and your wards, how do they see themselves as part of the work of the priesthood?’ And the answer that I got every single time, just consistently, was ‘We teach our young women to support the priesthood.’”
But what does ‘support the priesthood’ really mean? How does our interpretation of that affect the message we share with the rising generation of women in the Church? How can leaders and parents better teach young women to see their value in God’s work?
Sister Oscarson, joined by her counselors, Sister Carol F. McConkie and Sister Neill F. Marriott, addressed those questions and others in this episode of Gospel Solutions for Families.
Sister Marriott: We’ve heard it, but it’s hard to get it into our minds, to make that shift that the priesthood is not the men of the Church. Priesthood is the power of God, and we all work with that power—not necessarily with keys or even with duties described in the scriptures, but we all have this power as we fulfill our covenant responsibilities. Even saying “support the priesthood,” we’re really saying “support the power of God.” I think we even need to go better and say we support those who work with priesthood power so that priesthood doesn’t take on this human identity that we just keep going back to. It’s just habit. But we need to get out of that habit. We need to keep pushing that idea out that this is about God’s power in our lives.
Sister Oscarson: I think something that maybe the young women don’t stop to think about is that they have been the beneficiaries of priesthood power already in their lives. When they were baptized, that’s a priesthood ordinance. They now can draw on the power that comes through that ordinance. There is power in ordinances, but also responsibilities that come with being a disciple of Christ and a covenant daughter of God. When they attend church, when they participate in their classes, when they do anything that has to do with those around them, they have an obligation and responsibility to minister, to love, to mourn with those that mourn, to lift up the hands that are hanging down, to be ministers in this kingdom. And if they could start to see themselves as an important part of that, the whole picture of what we do when we gather together as ward members, they would see that they have an important role to play.
Sister McConkie: That’s such a significant question because oftentimes for women it’s not as clearly defined in the scriptures what their duties might be. They don’t see and recognize the opportunity they have to utilize the ordinances that they have received in a way to do the things that will draw them close to Christ through the Spirit of the Lord. Think about it. All those ordinances are invitations to receive the Spirit. And when they receive the Spirit of God in their lives, then they receive heavenly direction. They learn how to function in the work of salvation, in the work of the priesthood. All of the work of salvation is done by priesthood power. And we access that priesthood power as we participate in the work, but the confidence to do that comes through the Spirit. The wisdom of how to act comes through the Spirit. The assurance that we’re on the right track and doing the right thing comes from the Spirit. One of the things we really want young women to understand is the importance of staying ever close to that Spirit that will guide and direct them and give them wisdom and understanding about what they can do, about who they are and how significant they are to God. It will give them an opportunity to feel His love in a very personal way and then be able to turn around and manifest that love to someone else so others can feel the Lord’s love too.
Watch the rest of this episode to hear how the General Young Women Presidency recommends letting young women lead and serve in their youth groups to gain better understanding of their purpose.