“Priesthood Brethren Asked to Be Christ’s Servants,” Ensign, July 1993, 74–75
“Young and old, you are part of the mighty army of the Lord. You are on His errand and are entitled to His help. Whom God calls, God qualifies,” said President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, during a May 2 fireside commemorating the 164th anniversary of the restoration of the priesthood.
President Monson was the final speaker in the meeting, which was held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and broadcast via satellite to priesthood holders gathered in stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Other speakers at the fireside were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and Eddie Gene Gonzales, Jr., a sixteen-year-old priest in the Sonora (Arizona) Ward. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, presided over and conducted the meeting. Music was provided by a combined Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood choir from the Jordan and Oquirrh regions in Utah.
Speaking to Aaronic Priesthood holders, President Monson discussed four keys to success: grow in wisdom, walk by faith, teach through testimony, and serve with love. After noting Jesus’ maturity at age twelve, the same age that today’s deacons are ordained, President Monson said, “That which we seek in life requires effort, preparation, study, and perseverance—and the determination to choose the right.
“Make every decision pass the test: ‘What does it do to me?’ And let your code emphasize not ‘What will others think?’ but rather, ‘What will I think of myself?’” President Monson noted that the best way to grow in wisdom is through “much prayer, and fasting.” (Alma 17:1–3.)
President Monson said that a “patriarchal blessing is … a Liahona of light to guide you unerringly to your heavenly home.” He urged Aaronic Priesthood holders to “live the teachings of the Lord and keep His commandments so you can qualify to be worthy to serve a mission.” He encouraged bishops to help deacons gain “a spiritual awareness of the sacredness of [their] ordained calling.”
Concluding his remarks, President Monson said: “Let us learn of Him, let us follow in His footsteps, let us live by His precepts. By so doing, we will be prepared for any service He calls us to perform.”
Elder Maxwell likened the Restoration to an invitation for priesthood holders to become men of Christ. “Life, when properly lived, is really a journey ‘back home.’ In this narrow sense, we are somewhat like the prodigal. As we come to ourselves, we, too, will say with determination: ‘I will arise and go to my father.’ (Luke 15:18.) …
“Our life’s further focus” is found in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness.” [Matt. 6:33] (Emphasis added.) He also quoted William Law, who said, “If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”
“Even when we come to understand our true identities,” noted Elder Maxwell, “God loves us too much to let us be content with what we have achieved spiritually up to now, because He is a perfect Father. He knows what we have the power to become, and He has ways of being lovingly insistent. … The more we become like Jesus, the more useful we are to Him.”
Key to this personal change, said Elder Maxwell, is “developing the cardinal qualities enumerated by King Benjamin”—submissiveness, meekness, humility. (See Mosiah 3:19.) Questions that can help us improve include these: “What will our sons and grandsons learn from us about gospel doctrines? … Can we partake of tiny, bitter cups without becoming bitter? How often do we render quiet Christian service? … How consistently do we show love and respect for … all women?”
Although we are happier when we keep the commandments, it is also true that “faithfulness will bring special challenges,” said Elder Maxwell. “It seems God is always stretching those who meekly serve Him.” But like Abraham, Peter, Amulek, and Jesus, each of us can overcome challenges to “become a distinguished alumnus of life’s school of affliction, graduating with honors.”
Eddie Gene Gonzales, Jr., spoke of the ways he honors his priesthood so that he will be worthy to enter the temple and to serve a mission when that time comes. This he does by participating in service projects, obeying the commandments and his parents, and attending seminary, among other things.
“A major challenge in these times is being morally clean and respectful to yourself and to others,” Eddie said. “Some people think that being sexually active outside of marriage is acceptable, but the Lord, our Church leaders, and our parents have taught us [otherwise].”
Eddie’s early missionary-mindedness led to his mother’s activation and, with help from others, his father’s conversion and the family’s eventual temple sealing, “one of the greatest events of our lives,” he said.
Looking forward to his mission, Eddie said, “I think my greatest asset … will be my ability to make and keep friends. When you befriend someone, it is much easier to teach the gospel.”