My first experience in understanding how I, as a woman, was set apart with priesthood authority occurred on my mission. My companion and I had been invited to attend a Bible study. Throughout the meeting, the power that accompanied our words was noticeable. It felt as though the Spirit was confirming that my companion and I were set apart and authorized to teach the gospel on the Lord’s behalf.
That first experience led to many more instances where I realized that I can access priesthood power as a woman.
My understanding of the priesthood has grown as I’ve accepted President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation to “study prayerfully all the truths you can find about priesthood power.”1 Over time I’ve come to think of the priesthood as three branches growing from one big trunk. The trunk represents the overarching definition of the word priesthood: the power and authority of God—used to create the earth—through which God brings to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). The three different branches, to me, represent the following aspects of the priesthood:
Priesthood keys, which God gives worthy priesthood holders “to direct the use of the priesthood on behalf of God’s children.”2
Priesthood authority, which is the “authorization to represent God and act in His name. …
“Worthy male Church members receive priesthood authority through priesthood conferral and ordination to priesthood offices. All Church members can exercise delegated authority as they are set apart or assigned to assist in accomplishing God’s work.”3
This means that as a woman, I can receive authority to act and serve within my stewardship. President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, reiterated this, saying, “When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function.”4
In addition to the experiences from my mission and during my personal scripture study, I’ve learned about the priesthood especially while in the temple. For example, following a breakup with a boyfriend that left me with emotional feelings of loss, I felt a desire to serve as a temple worker. As I performed sacred ordinance work in the Lord’s house, I was reminded that my access to priesthood power didn’t depend on my relationship status. As long as I stayed true to my covenants with God, I could be confident in the sacred promised blessings He had endowed me with.
This experience reassured me that as a righteous, covenant-keeping woman in the gospel, I don’t need to fear that I’ve somehow been cheated out of holding priesthood keys or being ordained to an office in the priesthood. I can trust that priesthood power and blessings are based on my personal faithfulness to God and how I honor my covenants with Him. Every one of us, male or female, can have equal access to all those blessings.
If you feel like the topic of the priesthood would be a good thing for you to study but you’re not sure where to start, perhaps try listing the ways the Savior blesses your life through priesthood power. Here’s my list.
As I keep covenants with God, He uses His power to bless me with:
Access to the Savior’s healing power.
The privilege of partaking of the sacrament.
Physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
Knowledge and truth as I visit the temple.
Promises of spiritual and physical protection through temple covenants.
A patriarchal blessing.
Guidance from a prophet of God and other authorized leaders.
The promise of eternal family.
The promise of eventual godhood.
The chance to return to the Lord’s presence someday.
These are just a few of the marvelous blessings I’ve received because of God’s power in my life. My experiences in the temple have given me a greater testimony of the multitude of blessings that are offered through the Savior’s holy priesthood—to me and all of God’s children. I believe that it is because of the Savior’s priesthood power in my daily life that I’m able to find joy. Because of His power, I can continue moving forward with faith, toward the possibilities God has in store for me in mortality and in the hereafter.