“How do men advance in the priesthood?” New Era, Jan. 1973, 34
The question posed may seem to be simple and elementary. Many would answer that if a man is worthy, as he grows older he will be advanced from one office to another, moving from elder to seventy and then to high priest. Certainly we hear of men being “advanced” as the person in charge of the meeting asks for the approval of the membership for the men’s ordination to a different office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Then, after being interviewed and approved, they are ordained by those having authority to what many think of as a higher office in the priesthood.
Actually such a change is not an advancement in the sense that a man is being moved from an office of lesser importance to one of greater importance. It would be more accurate to say that he is receiving a new calling or ordination in the priesthood, with new and different responsibilities. As far as the Lord is concerned, each office of the priesthood is equal in importance to every other. How one carries out his calling is far more important than the office he may hold.
President Joseph F. Smith said in this regard:
“No office adds to the power of the Priesthood. But all offices in the Church derive their power, their virtue, their authority, from the Priesthood. If our brethren would get this principle thoroughly established in their minds, there would be less misunderstanding in relation to the functions of government in the Church than there is. Today the question is, which is the greater—the high priest or the seventy—the seventy or the high priest? I tell you neither of them is the greater, and neither of them is the lesser. Their callings lie in different directions, but they are from the same Priesthood. If it were necessary … and there was no man left on earth holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, except an elder—that elder, by the inspiration of the Spirit of God and by the direction of the Almighty could proceed, and should proceed, to organize the Church of Jesus Christ in all its perfection, because he holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. But the house of God is a house of order, and while the other officers remain in the Church, we must observe the order of the priesthood, and we must perform ordinances and ordinations strictly in accordance with that order, as it has been established in the Church through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 148.)
The statement “while the other officers remain in the Church” means that each office in the priesthood has its own particular duties. Therefore, one is not promoted or advanced in the sense that one office is greater or lesser than another. He is just adding precept upon precept as he grows in gospel knowledge, and he is gaining in spiritual power as he magnifies the respective callings he receives with each new office in the priesthood. The offices in the priesthood are, after all, appendages to the Melchizedek Priesthood itself. (D&C 84:29–30.)