“Agents for the Lord,” New Era, May 1993, 28
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.
As worthy young men are ordained to the Aaronic or “preparatory” Priesthood, they become agents for the Lord in extending the blessings Heavenly Father desires to share with his children. The authority and duties which accompany this preparatory priesthood center around service to others.
Aaronic Priesthood bearers who minister, preach, teach, help with the sacrament, act as messengers, baptize (as priests), and hold leadership positions are beginning a lifetime of serving in the Lord’s way—for the benefit of others. (See D&C 13:1; D&C 20:46–60; D&C 84:18, 26–27, 30, 32–40; and D&C 107:13–14, 20, 85–88.)
On the following pages are real-life examples of young men who are working right now to accomplish these Aaronic Priesthood purposes.
“You must have a personal conversion to the gospel, especially if you are going to share it with someone outside of the Church,” says Torfin Christensen, 18, of Kent, Washington.
Share your beliefs.
In the summer of 1991, Tor went to work for AnaMarie Hollenbach, a 72-year-old invalid confined to a wheelchair. He still does odd jobs around her house and brings her groceries in every Friday evening. He says, “At first, she was just curious about the Mormons, and we would talk about our beliefs with each other. Then a few months later, she asked for the missionary lessons. She accepted everything right down the line and gave up a lifelong habit of smoking.” On March 26, 1992, Tor baptized Sister Hollenbach.
As first assistant in the priests quorum of the Kent Third Ward, Kent Stake, Tor sees that Sister Hollenbach receives the sacrament in her home at least once a month since her health does not allow her to attend Church services on a regular basis.
Tor is working and saving money and hopes to be in the mission field by fall of this year. He says quietly but with conviction, “I believe the gospel. I live it. I’ve never experienced life without it, and I don’t ever want to.”
Live the gospel.
Here are a few more of the teachings of the gospel Tor lives by:
Service: His mother, Sherie Christensen, says, “Tor is keenly aware of the needs of others, and he is always doing something for someone. Here at home, if he sees something needs to be done he gets right after it without being asked or told.”
Scripture study: Tor graduated from seminary and continues to fit daily scripture study into his busy schedule. He feels that his seminary experience has given him a more thorough understanding of the gospel and has better prepared him for a mission.
Tithes: The first thing out of each paycheck is Tor’s tithing. He works at an apartment complex doing maintenance projects to earn money for his mission and personal needs.
Self-sufficiency: Tor worked to pay for a small truck he uses to help ease his own, as well as the family’s, transportation needs.
Dario Gonzalez of Montevideo, Uruguay, understands that there are priesthood callings—specific assignments or “jobs” that come from the bishop and other priesthood leaders. Dario is 16 and a priest, and his callings include home teaching with his dad and serving as first assistant in his priests quorum.
But Dario also understands that there is one calling every priesthood bearer has—the call to serve whenever and wherever possible. It’s a call to follow the Savior’s example in every part of life.
When it comes to specific assignments, Dario is someone you can count on. “He’s a good home teaching companion and shows real concern for our families,” says his dad. “He always helps remind me when it’s time to go.”
It’s the same with his quorum leadership role. Dario may be the only active priest in his branch. But he realizes a quorum leadership calling means more than conducting meetings and making assignments. He not only visits other priests to encourage them, but he works with the deacons and teachers too, visiting the inactive and offering friendship and encouragement.
Then there’s that general calling to serve, the one every priesthood bearer has. That’s why you’ll find Dario working alongside other priesthood bearers—young and old—to help put a roof on a member’s house, or to build a bathroom for one of the widows, or to help a family move into their new home.
That general calling is also why you will find Dario grocery shopping for the nonmember widow down the street. Or taking care of the children in a family while their mother is in the hospital. All this takes time, but, Dario explains, “I feel good; I don’t feel forced into it. I still have time for study and for my friends. Besides, I go with my friends in the priesthood to do many of these things.”
Follow the Savior.
In many ways, Dario is an ordinary guy. He loves soccer, volleyball, and track. Dario is also quite modest, and getting him to talk about his priesthood service is not easy. Ask him what striving to magnify his callings has done for him, and he searches for words. Then he simply says, “I feel closer to Christ by trying to follow his example.”
A priesthood quorum that is looking for ways to give service can combine the right plan with the right place and really make a difference.
Adapt to conditions.
Sam Welsh, 14, of the Wellington Ward, West Palm Beach Florida Stake, had his teachers quorum organized in a food drive for the homeless. Then things blew apart—literally. Hurricane Andrew hit southern Florida with a fury that tore homes apart, uprooted trees, and displaced thousands of people. The service project suddenly became a way for Sam’s quorum to give relief to hurricane victims.
“Our quorum or any other teenage groups weren’t allowed into the hurricane area to work,” said Sam. “We only got to go work with our parents.” But one way teens could help was working for organizations funneling supplies into the area. Sam’s food drive expanded beyond his quorum and ward to include the entire stake, other Scout troops, and his performing arts school. The school officials asked that students donate money instead of goods. Sam used the money to purchase items the food bank had run short of, such as baby formula and bottles, diapers and wipes. The quorum helped collect donations and deliver them to a central collection point. Because the quorum had experience working together, they were able to keep the drive organized and on schedule.
Adapt to needs.
But chances for service don’t always come on such a large scale. Paul Brown, 16, of the Fort Pierce Ward, West Palm Beach Florida Stake, was severely injured in an automobile accident. His recovery will be long and slow. Mark Settle, a friend and member of the same priests quorum, explained what the quorum did after hearing about Paul. “We wanted to go see him, but we weren’t allowed in intensive care, so we had a group prayer. And we remembered Paul in our personal prayers and in our family prayers.”
“Every Sunday,” Mark said, “we have our priests quorum meeting at his house so Paul can be with us. He’s a good person to be around.”
And they have plans for Paul’s return. “When he feels good enough to go to Church, we’re going to get a microphone so he can bless the sacrament even if he can’t break the bread yet.”
You might think Dan Ellis, Joel Smith, and Skyler Lawrence, priests in the Clovis Sixth Ward, Fresno California North Stake, would be living in fear and trembling. After all, in a few short months they’re supposed to be ready to “hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus” (D&C 107:18–19). In other words, they will receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
It might sound intimidating, but remember, since they were ordained deacons at age 12, they’ve had the power to “hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances” (D&C 107:20).
Take it seriously.
Dan, Joel, and Skyler take their Aaronic Priesthood callings seriously. They don’t understand everything about it yet, but they’re trying.
They gave some ideas on how to prepare for the higher priesthood:
Use your Aaronic Priesthood. Pass the sacrament, etc. Do your home teaching. “The more you use your priesthood, the more you’ll appreciate it,” says Dan.
Set an example. “Keep the commandments and help others,” says Skyler. “And lend a hand to the younger guys,” adds Joel.
Serve others. “Look for ways to provide them with what they need, even if it’s just a smile,” says Dan.
Share the gospel. Joel recently baptized a friend. “It was part of my Aaronic Priesthood I’d never exercised before. I can’t wait to do it again.”
Go out with the missionaries. “The company’s good. It’s great to feel the spirit that’s with them,” Skyler says.
Bear your testimony. “It’s amazing the spirit those words can bring,” says Dan. “It’s so powerful, and it helps you gain strength.”
Pick role models. “If you don’t have the priesthood in your home, find a good role model in your ward or stake, or find one in the scriptures,” Joel says.
Cultivate a unified quorum. “The guys in our quorum are really close,” says Skyler. “We do a lot together, and we really try to support each other.”
Growing up in the Church, 17-year-old Gene Ritter remembers singing “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.” His entire life he’s been taught to go on a mission, and he’s watched two older brothers leave and return from their missions. With Gene’s 19th birthday drawing nearer and nearer, soon it will be his turn. And the decision to go on a mission has already been made.
Develop a feeling.
“Since I was 15 or so, a mission has been something I’ve really tried to work toward,” he says. “I pray a lot and study the scriptures a lot. I’ve gone on three minimissions for a week, to get a feel for what a full-time mission is like.”
Gene, a priest in the Madison Second Ward, Madison Wisconsin Stake, has been working hard to get his own spiritual life in order, a necessity in the mission field. “When I was about 15, I started reading the Book of Mormon. Up to that point in my life, I wasn’t really happy. I had heard that the gospel is a way you can have joy in your life,” he remembers. “I decided I wanted to be happy and that I was going to give it a good try. Before I started reading the scriptures regularly, I hadn’t really considered myself very spiritual.”
Experience the joy.
Others, like Jason Tadlock, have already experienced the joy of sharing the gospel. “I have a friend who I would invite to all the Church activities. After a while, he started going to early-morning seminary with me, and then began going to church regularly. I asked him if he wanted to take the discussions and he said yes.” Other young men from the Madison Wisconsin Stake told what they are doing to get ready to serve:
“I started saving for my mission when I was really young. My grandparents gave me birthday money and my mom and dad took me to open a savings account. I think I was about eight years old,” recalls Jared Holdaway, who turns 19 this month.
“I’m attending seminary and we’re studying the New Testament. I read every night before I go to bed and we read the Book of Mormon as a family,” says Jared Madden, 14.
“I really didn’t think about going on a mission until my older brother decided to go. It’s basically because of his example that I want to go,” says Jeff Ottosen, 18.
It’s always been important for Stanton Miller of the Mesquite Ward, Dallas East Texas Stake, to do the right things at the right time. “There is real confidence that comes in doing what’s right,” he says.
Do the little things.
As a recently returned missionary and new husband, Stanton has made it a goal to attend the temple once a week. “There’s no place I’d rather be than in the temple. I’m so grateful to be worthy to attend such a holy place and experience the closeness to the Lord I feel there,” he adds. “I did little things that built up to a desire to attend the temple, like reading my scriptures every day, praying daily, attending church, and being obedient.”
Live for the blessings.
Once Stanton gained a testimony, going to the temple was something he wanted, not just something he was told to do. He also set and followed righteous guidelines in his dating to ensure worthiness. “I kept my thoughts clean so my actions would never be unworthy. I just decided that I was going to go on a mission and be married in the temple,” he explains. “I was also obedient to what the prophets had said. Their counsel would never put you in a compromising situation.”
Start preparing now.
Rex McCarley and Damon Kenrick, also from Mesquite, are both preparing for their missions and are looking forward to receiving the endowment in the temple. Here they share what they are doing in preparation:
“I’ve been reading my scriptures every night to be prepared for my temple experience. I want to be spiritually ready,” says Rex. “I’m trying to understand the feelings of the Spirit.”
“It’s an incredible feeling being able to reach beyond this world to help someone who has passed on. I’m so grateful for the opportunity,” Damon says about performing baptisms for the dead. “I love my Heavenly Father and I know he wants me to go to the temple so I, and others through my help, can take part in eternal blessings.”