Elder David A. Bednar
April 2012 General Conference
What it’s about:
Elder Bednar spoke about the priesthood. He gave a basic description of priesthood, the qualifications for priesthood ordination, how it is received, qualities of priesthood (selfless, active), and requirements needed to exercise the power of the priesthood.
“A priesthood holder is expected to exercise this sacred authority in accordance with God’s holy mind, will, and purposes. Nothing about the priesthood is self-centered. The priesthood always is used to serve, to bless, and to strengthen other people. […]Receiving the authority of the priesthood by the laying on of hands is an important beginning, but it is not enough. Ordination confers authority, but righteousness is required to act with power as we strive to lift souls, to teach and testify, to bless and counsel, and to advance the work of salvation.”
“[…]men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently. Men who hold the priesthood should not only receive priesthood authority but also become worthy and faithful conduits of God’s power.”
What it means to me:
Quote #1: When I read this, my mind immediately turned to women who suffer abuse at the hand of a priesthood-holding husband. Many women faithfully endure various types of abuse for years with the oh-so-faulty mindset that they are obligated to the demands of their priesthood-holding husband and his head-of-household status. Many of us don’t understand how anyone could possibly justify enduring ill treatment from another, but it happens more and more often as our world becomes more corrupt. Spousal abuse often begins with small things, progressing over time, and is mistakenly set aside as circumstantial. A friend of mine with 7 children had been abused for many years by her husband. Nobody knew about it. I was with her mother and the children one evening so she could attend the temple with her husband, and out of nowhere my friend burst through the door in tears saying, “I left him!.” She had no other way to get away from the abuse and manipulation of her husband safely then to go to the temple with him, step out of the session to use the restroom, and run away. At this point my friend’s husband had started abusing the children too, and it was the waking realization that her children were in grave danger that got her to do something about it all. My heart aches with the memory of this experience; I spent many weeks supporting them in hiding and relocation efforts until the proper legal protections were in place… and have never been so fearful of a man in my life. Oh, if only my friend had understood that her husband’s authority to lead and guide the family went out the window when he started using his priesthood selfishly and not in accordance with God’s “holy mind, will, and purposes.”
Quote #2: Elder Bednar’s story about his father really touched me. This quote is the great lesson he learned from his father, long before he even joined the church, about how priesthood holders should be conducting themselves. I found this remarkable, and have similarly found that most of my friends and co-workers who aren’t LDS have higher expectations of members of the LDS faith than many actual members do of themselves and each other. Because of this phenomenon, when I need opinions regarding, for example, the upstanding nature of a recently released movie… I turn to my non-member friends for opinions of whether or not it is, as they have termed it, “Joanna-friendly.” As a whole, I think we should all definitely put a little more effort into paying better attention to how we conduct ourselves.