On the evening of March 31, 2018, I was seated in the chapel of our stake center watching general priesthood meeting. Toward the end of his closing address (Ministering with the Power and Authority of God), President Russell M. Nelson invited priesthood holders “literally to rise up with [him] in our great eternal brotherhood” and sing the marvelous priesthood anthem, Rise Up, O Men of God.
I don’t know what it was like where you watched this conference session, but for me it was electrifying when President Nelson asked holders of each priesthood office in turn to stand and remain standing as we sang the hymn. I noted that he started by saying, “Deacons, please arise! Teachers, arise! Priests!” The vanguard of those rising up was not the top Church leaders, but the young men who bear the Aaronic Priesthood.
Perhaps there is a purpose in this pattern. In the early days of the Church in this dispensation, bearers of the Aaronic Priesthood were often called upon to go in advance and fulfill tasks we would probably never trust our young men with today. Study the history surrounding Johnston’s Army sometime and you might be surprised to find what young Aaronic Priesthood bearers accomplished.
In D&C 84:107 the Lord admonished, “Therefore, take with you those who are ordained unto the lesser priesthood, and send them before you to make appointments, and to prepare the way, and to fill appointments that you yourselves are not able to fill.” That sounds like a lot of responsibility. Are the Aaronic Priesthood bearers you know up to obligations like this? If not, why not?
One of the common complaints I hear about youth today is that they aren’t as resilient as young people from prior generations. Could it be that well-meaning adults sometimes do so much for these youth and keep them in such structured situations that young men holding the Aaronic Priesthood are prevented from fulfilling the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and don’t develop the strengths they need to become the leaders the Church needs them to be?
Are we as confident as the Lord is that these youth are up to the challenge of their callings? How can we better help our young men become the mighty priesthood bearers God has called them to be? There are many possible approaches. Let me offer one that I have found to be beneficial.
Through more than four decades of involvement with the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society, I have been privileged to work with numerous young Latter-day Saints who have developed into strong leaders who focus on serving others. The OA offers a departure from the self-centeredness that is endemic in our modern culture. Its members learn to find fulfillment through unselfish service.
The service fostered by the OA centers around work. When he was President of the Church, Ezra Taft Benson said, “Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute.” (“Keys to Successful Member-Missionary Work,” Ensign, September 1990) Instead of the coddling of youth offered in many parts of our society, OA culture enthrones hard work that benefits others as an indispensable feature of a meaningful life. Fun and enjoyment have their places in life, but instead of entertaining youth, the OA offers them an induction experience called an Ordeal; resilience development rather than leisure.
Isn’t this the kind of training Aaronic Priesthood bearers need for their present and future ministries? Fortunately, this OA opportunity is available to all Latter-day Saint Scouts who have achieved at least the First Class rank and have completed at least 15 nights of outdoor Scout camping. Contact your local Order of the Arrow chapter or your Scout service center for details on how to provide this opportunity to the young men you serve. Help your young men rise up and be the men God has called them to be.
Questions to Ponder
- Are you concerned that the Aaronic Priesthood bearers you serve aren’t sufficiently resilient?
- What kind of value do you believe can be found in helping your Scouts learn to work hard in service to others?
- Did you know that the Order of the Arrow offers just such opportunities?
- How will you use this knowledge to bless the youth you serve?
-Scott Hinrichs has been actively Scouting since age eight. He has served in many youth and adult Scouting positions and has been a member of the Order of the Arrow for more than four decades. He and his wife are raising their family in North Ogden, Utah. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.