Joseph Fielding Smith, Our Responsibilities as Priesthood Holders

“Of ourselves we have no message of salvation, no doctrine that must be accepted, no power to baptize or ordain or marry for eternity.”

That is President Fielding’s message to the priesthood. If he were believed, it would relieve many of their anxiety that those who do not receive the priesthood are being denied a gold start of celestial merit. And in the priesthood holders ourselves, it would give birth to humility.

He then calls on men to not avoid children. “We must not dam up the wellsprings of life by preventing childbirth.” We usually think of that as a woman’s sphere.   But Mormon women are more likely to be pressured by their husband not to have more children than the opposite. There are reasons in individual cases. It doesn’t speak well of our overall spiritual health that our brith rates are dropping. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the reason our proselyting was becoming less effective also.


Howard W. Hunter, Prepare Every Needful Thing

This was one of those homely, practical talks that I love. It is dated. Most of it is about church library procedure. But there is sound sense in it. President Hunter put in a strong plug for having things for students to look at and even handle. I’m a long time member of the Spartan school of “I’m not in the Relief Society, there will be no foofraw in my church classes.” But what I’m discovering is that one or two well-chosen images do much more to enhance a class then they do to discover it.   Good advice from President Hunter.


David B. Haight, Teach One Another

Whenever I think of Elder Haight I think of his Ruby. There’s little of that here. This is a fun talk to visit as a tourist. It’s about a teacher development program—well, actually its about the meaning of life and a teacher development program—I love that kind of breadth. Anyhow, the program sounds fairly different from what we do now. But the imperative remains—“We must understand these instructions and our responsibility to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77), but to teach it effectively so that all of us, our children, our children’s children, and generations yet unborn will be able to perceive and comprehend the true meaning of life as proclaimed by the Master, and then have a desire to live it and eventually gain exaltation in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ.”

N. Eldon Tanner, Search for the Wanderers

This talk is one you’d have to watch if you want to see the winsome opening flub.

Elder Tanner’s message is perennial and fresh. It is about the boys who wander away from the firm and loving embrace of the fellowship of the priesthood.

Every bishop, every stake president, every leader of any organization knows someone who needs attention. . . .

By saving one, we might save a family. We might even save a generation. By losing one, we may lose not only the individual but a family and his posterity. The responsibility is great.

Here’s another passage:

I don’t care at all for percentages or statistics, but I do care for that boy and the outside young man, and I appeal to you tonight, my brethren, every one of you who is holding the priesthood of God

And here’s one last quote that I couldn’t leave out:

And to you young men, there is no fun in being lost


Harold B. Lee, Today’s Young People

This talk is a rebuke to all of us who take shots at Millennials. The shots are richly deserved, of course. But there are still many great youth doing great things. And the stink of the others in their age group shouldn’t obscure that. President Lee quotes somebody or other: “If the youth of today were not twice as good as were the youth of two generations ago, they wouldn’t be half as good as they are.”

All right, Millennials. All is forgiven. You work on shaping yourself up, and I’ll work on shaping myself up. To quote President Lee again, “Our job and your job, my job, is to look after the man behind the one in front of you.”


Other posts on the April 1971 Priesthood session:

Love Fervently

Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd

Deep Down Inside Us There is Good        

Betty Friedan and Bishop Brown

Why I support Friends of Scouting

God’s Plan to Exalt His Children

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