“New Handbook Helps Leaders Strengthen Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1992, 111–12
A recently distributed Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Handbook replaces a handbook for Aaronic Priesthood leaders that was printed in 1977. To learn how the new handbook is different and how it helps leaders and youth, the Ensign talked to Elder Jack H Goaslind of the Seventy, Young Men general president.
Ensign: What is the most important benefit this new handbook offers to leaders and youth?
Elder Goaslind: I believe it is the book’s focus on the Aaronic Priesthood as the authority to serve and an emphasis that Aaronic Priesthood is not a program. The Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Handbook is more closely aligned with the Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook. It is designed to help leaders prepare young men to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and to prepare them for the greater service they can render as they progress in the gospel.
Ensign: How does the new handbook emphasize preparation for the Melchizedek Priesthood?
Elder Goaslind: By focusing on the purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood. On page 6, leaders will read:
“The mission of the Aaronic Priesthood is to help each young man—
“Become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and live by its teachings.
“Magnify priesthood callings.
“Give meaningful service.
“Prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
“Commit to, worthily prepare for, and serve an honorable full-time mission.
“Live worthy to receive temple covenants and prepare to become a worthy husband and father.”
These six statements embody every principle that was in the eleven “Priesthood Purposes” in the old Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Guidebook, and more. We hope to build a strong enough focus on these six goals that every young man will carry them in his heart and mind as he develops and matures in the gospel.
Ensign: Since the handbook won’t be in the hands of all young men, how can it help them as individuals?
Elder Goaslind: I think the impact on the boys will be in what happens to their adult and quorum leaders. We want all Aaronic Priesthood leaders to study this book—to know it thoroughly and to use what they learn. I can promise that if they will do this, they will touch the lives of young men.
The book is organized and written to help leaders understand their responsibilities and see their opportunities to affect lives. It replaces the old handbook and also the Aaronic Priesthood Quorum Guidebook, which was basically a training document. The new Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Handbook covers both organization and activities in its seven sections: “The Aaronic Priesthood in the Church,” “The Aaronic Priesthood and the Young Men Organization,” “Quorum Organization,” “Ward Organization,” “Stake Organization,” “Training and Development,” and “Combined Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women Guidelines.”
Ensign: What are some of the other important differences in the new handbook?
Elder Goaslind: One of the most significant changes is that the Aaronic Priesthood now has a much closer working relationship with the Young Women organization. The last section of the new handbook gives guidelines for activities that can help young men and young women develop appreciation for each other’s strengths and differences, develop respect for each other, and grow through service. I really hope this new handbook helps emphasize to bishoprics that their first responsibility is to both the young men and the young women of their ward.
Ensign: Is the book broad enough to cover youth of the Church throughout the world?
Elder Goaslind: It was designed as an international handbook, with a strong emphasis on universal priesthood principles. We’ve tried to keep the book from being programmatic or limited in its scope. The principles in it are meant to be applicable in any culture. For example, Scouting is covered only briefly because it isn’t available in many parts of the world.
Ensign: How can this handbook help young men be better followers of the Savior?
Elder Goaslind: It teaches principles that can give young men a foundation for living the kind of life the Savior taught us to live.
The hope is that we will see lives of young men change in some concrete ways. For example, there has been no increase for the past several years in the percentage of young men serving missions. It is true that there are many more young missionaries out there simply because there are more young men in the Church, but the percentage of those who serve has not changed.
What a wonderful thing it would be if we could help more young men prepare to serve! With the opening of so many new doors to the gospel, more missionaries will be needed.
Ensign: How has the new handbook been received?
Elder Goaslind: Many leaders have been eager for it and have expressed very positive support for its strong priesthood approach. Those of us who were involved in producing this new handbook believe it unifies our efforts as a Church in what we’re trying to do for young men. Youth leaders who are now using it agree. I’ve lost count of the number of telephone calls we’ve had from people who have said, “Thanks. We needed this desperately.”