Rick Bowmer, AP
Men sometimes identify themselves by titles, observed President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who then went on his priesthood session address to suggest four titles he believes apply to all priesthood holders in the Church.
"One title that defines all of us in the most fundamental way is 'son of Heavenly Father,' said President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency. "No matter what else we are or do in life, we must never forget that we are God's literal spirit children. We were His children before we came to this world, and we will be His children forevermore. This basic truth changes the way we look at ourselves, our brothers and sisters, and life itself."
Knowing that, yet coming up short sometimes, can be discouraging, he acknowledged. "The adversary likes to take advantage of these feelings. Satan would rather that you define yourself by your sins instead of your divine potential. Don't listen to him."
Drawing an analogy of fathers encouraging their toddlers to learn to walk, President Uchtdorf said, "Compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and, dear brethren, that should be our be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time."
He expressed his belief in a loving and caring Heavenly Father "who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward Him. Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged — never to give up or flee our allotted field of service — but to take courage, find our faith and keep trying.
"Our Father in Heaven mentors His children and often sends unseen heavenly help to those who desire to follow the Savior."
From that concept he segued into the next title that priesthood holders have in common: disciple of Jesus Christ.
"Although we recognize that none of us are perfect, we do not use that fact as an excuse to lower our expectations, to live beneath our privileges, to delay the day of our repentance, or to refuse to grow into better, more perfect, more refined followers of our Master," he said.
The Church is built not for perfect men and women but "for people exactly like you and me," President Uchtdorf said. "And it is built upon the rock of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, through whose Atonement we can be cleansed and become 'fellowcitizens ... of the household of God.'"
But, he added, while the Atonement is meant to help all become more like Christ, "it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every single member from a single mold — that each one should look, feel, think and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father."
It would also contradict the intent and purpose of the Church, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency of each of God's children, President Uchtdorf added. "As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God's commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social and political preferences."
The Church thrives when members take advantage of this diversity and encourage each other to develop and use talents to strengthen one another, he said.
"If we truly follow our Lord Jesus Christ, we must embrace a third title: healer of souls," President Uchtdorf remarked.
"It is our job to build up, repair, strengthen, uplift and make whole," he said. "Our assignment is to follow the Lord's example and reach out to those who suffer."
Priesthood holders are healers as home teachers, priesthood leaders, fathers, sons, brothers and husbands, he said. "We carry in one hand a vial of consecrated oil for blessing the sick; in the other we carry a loaf of bread to feed the hungry; and in our hearts, we carry the peaceable word of God, 'which healeth the wounded soul.'"
President Uchtdorf said the fourth title priesthood holders share returns them to the first title in his list. "As sons of our Heavenly Father, we are heirs to all that He has."
Considering that priesthood holders are joint-heirs with Christ, "does it make any sense that many of us spend so much of our valuable time, thoughts, means and energies in pursuit of prestige or wealth or to be entertained by the newest and coolest electronic gadgets? ... How can we not willingly and joyfully engage in serving the Lord and fellowmen and living up to our responsibilities in the priesthood of God?"
President Uchtdorf expressed sorrow that any priesthood holder might feel he is not needed or that he is overlooked or unwanted.
"Certainly you are not overlooked or unwanted by your Heavenly Father. And I tell you with certainty that you are needed by your Church," he said.
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