Ministering with Power and Authority
While I was a missionary in Hawaii, I spent some time as a Zone Leader. With my companion, I watched over the other missionaries within our (can you guess?) zone. From time to time we were expected to train these missionaries, and we would often try and come up with fun ways to teach principles so that they would “stick.”
One training I gave in Waipahu has pertinence to this discussion of priesthood, and I thought I might include it here. While it was tailored for missionaries, it definitely has application to all priesthood holders. I’ll include a link to the “rap” we made up at the end in case an ex-Hawaiian missionary stumbles upon this and it’s good for a laugh or two (with hyper links included to help with the inside jokes).
Authority – Welcome to the MIB
As I discussed earlier, authority comes not from learning, or wealth, or desire, or apostate ordination, but from a valid ordination done by one who holds the authority to perform such an ordination (Part I). Because of apostasy that authority needed to be restored, and thus all those who hold the priesthood can be found only within the LDS Church (Part II).
When I was getting ready to serve my mission, I was ordained as an elder and the Melchizedek (or higher) priesthood was conferred upon me. I was then set apart as a missionary. My ministerial certificate, which I carried with me my entire mission, read like this:
This certifies that the bearer, (Elder Larsen), who is in full faith and fellowship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a duly ordained minister of the gospel, and as such has authority to preach the principles of the gospel and to administer the ordinances thereof. We invite all people to give heed to his message (emphasis added).
Being ordained and set apart was like being inducted into the MIB. I had the authority to do all the things I needed to. This authority is eternal in that it is somewhat independent of the choices I make as long as I have been ordained by one holding the authority to do so. What is dependent on my choices, though, is the power with which I minister and exercise my authority.
Power – Do you have the skills?
Unlike priesthood authority, priesthood power is not eternal. Instead, it’s conditional on us making good choices – Christ explained that to bear fruit as branches we needed to abide in him, the true vine (John 15:1,4-5).
What exactly are some of the choices we can make to access this great power? How do we abide in Christ in order to bear fruit? The answer is a cycle, or belt, if you will.
In the movie Men in Black, there is an item called “The Galaxy”. The galaxy is not a group of stars millions of miles away, but rather a marble sized jewel and a source of great thermo-nuclear energy.
And it’s found on Orion’s belt – not the three stars that we use to find the constellation, but the collar of Orion the cat. Much like how that belt held a source of great power, the cycle (or belt) below is how we can access great priesthood power.
Every cycle needs a starting point. For Will Smith, a beginning in the MIB meant being equipped with the Noisy Cricket. It seemed small, but packed quite a punch. For us, our start in this cycle begins with faith in Jesus Christ, and like the Noisy Cricket, faith as small as a mustard seed can pack a punch.
One reason that faith is so important is that it is through faith that we accomplish miracles in our ministry (see Ether 12:12-16; see also the entire chapter and Hebrews 11).
Faith is also an important starting point in the gospel because it leads us to repent, or change our behavior to become more like Jesus Christ. And as we repent, we become more worthy.
If we are not worthy we will not have priesthood power, regardless of our authority.
Yet should we despair if there are parts of our life not in harmony with the gospel? Of course not! Having faith in Jesus Christ also means having hope that, through his atonement, we can conquer the natural man and become like the savior (see Moroni 7:41; see also Mosiah 3:19). Elder Russel M. Nelson, a modern day apostle, visited my mission in September of 2006. He told us, “Don’t waste today’s time worrying about yesterday’s mistakes. If you haven’t repented, do so and move on.”
Working towards becoming worthy is not just important as a way to increase our priesthood power. It is also important in that experiencing forgiveness increases our desire and commitment.
Desire and Commitment
The Sons of Mosiah are great examples of how experiencing forgiveness will increase our desire and commitment. The scriptures say,
“Now (the Sons of Mosiah) were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them” (Mosiah 28:3-4).
This commitment, borne of experiencing the atonement, will also help us to be courageous in the face of opposition. Because we have experienced this mighty change, we will want to share the gospel with others. We will be eager to give dedicated service.
In reference to giving dedicated service on missions, Elder Henry B. Eyring said to Mission Presidents,
“Find some way to give (your missionaries) the assurance that one of the sweetest revelations they can ever receive is the revelation that comes with forgiveness and the feeling that they are clean if they are worthy…”
Then in reference to the Sons of Mosiah, he said,
“The pure love of Christ came out of their faith, enough to repent, and an assurance… that the atonement worked in their lives. When missionaries experience that change, you could not stop them.”
And as we serve, our faith in the Savior will grow. The cycle will begin again, and grow in degree each revolution we make. In time, we will become more and more like the Savior.
As we practice this cycle, we will find increased power in our ministering. And like Will Smith in Men in Black, you can say: “I make this look good.”
Continuing the Series
- Part 1 – Where does priesthood authority not come from?
- Part 2 – The restoration of the priesthood, and why that restoration is so important.
- Part 3 – Exercising priesthood power and authority with style – Men in Black style, that is.