To hold the priesthood of God is to be held responsible by God for the eternal lives of His children, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, said in his priesthood session address of general conference.
“That is real, that is wonderful, and, at times, that can feel overwhelming,” he said.
He presented the story of a busy elders quorum president who was asked in an emergency to help an elder he did not know well to move his family’s belonging from one apartment to another.
“The Lord knew you would have such days when He called you to this position,” President Eyring said, “so He gave you a story to encourage you. It is a parable for overloaded priesthood holders. We sometimes call it the story fo the Good Samaritan. But it is really the story for a great priesthood bearer in these busy, difficult, last days.
“The story is a perfect fit for the overtaxed priesthood servant. Just remember that you are the Samaritan and not the priest or the Levite who passed by the wounded man.”
President Eyring said a quorum president and the priesthood bearers he leads can have at least three assurances.
“First, the Lord will give you, if you ask, the feelings of the compassion He feels for those in need,” he said. “Second, He will provide others, like the innkeeper, to join with you in your service. And third, the Lord, like the good Samaritan, will more than recompense all who join in giving help to those who need.”
Addressing himself to busy quorum leaders, President Eyring said, “You asked others of the Lord’s priesthood to help with confidence they would respond with compassion. You were not afraid to ask those who have responded most often in the past because you knew that they feel compassion easily. You asked them knowing that in the past they have felt the Lord’s generosity when they chose to help. You asked some already heavily burdened, knowing that the greater the sacrifice, the greater the compensation they will receive from the Lord. Those who have helped have felt the overflowing gratitude of the Savior.”
President Eyring reflected that quorum presidents may well have been inspired not to ask someone to help.
“As a leader, you know your quorum members and their families well,” he said. “The Lord knows them perfectly.
“He knows whose wife was near the breaking point because her husband was unable to find time to do what she needed done to care for her needs. He knows which children would be blessed by seeing their father go one more time to help others, or if the children needed the feeling that they matter to their father enough for him to spend time with them that day. But He also knows who needs the invitation to serve but might not appear to be a likely or willing candidate.”
President Eyring told of his experience in his youth when he was the first assistant in a priests quorum. The bishop took him on a number of occasions to visit ward members who needed rescuing.
“There is no way that I can find out whether the bishop prayed to know which priest would be blessed by those visits,” he said. “He may well have taken other priests with him many times. But the Lord knew I would someday be a bishop inviting those whose faith had grown cold to come back to the warmth of the gospel. The Lord knew I would someday be charged with the priesthood responsibility for hundreds and even thousands of Heavenly Father’s children who were in desperate temporal need.”
Young men cannot know what acts of priesthood service the Lord is preparing them to give, President Eyring said, but every priesthood holder has the charge to give spiritual help.
“It comes with being a member of a quorum,” he said. “It comes with being a member of a family.”
He added that in their service as full-time missionaries, they will go to thousands in great spiritual need. “You will go on the Lord’s errand to rescue them,” he said. “Only the Lord can bind up their spiritual wounds as they accept the ordinances that lead to eternal life.”
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Priesthood holders must have vibrant faith themselves to help people repair spiritual damage, he said, adding, “That means far more than reading the scriptures and praying over them. The prayer in the moment and quick glances in the scriptures are not preparation enough.”
Rather, they must “treasure up” the words of life continually, he said, quoting Doctrine and Covenants 84:85.
Another preparation to be made is to overcome the human characteristic to become hardened to the pain of others, he said.
“Our human tendency is to be impatient with the person who cannot see the truth that is so plain to us. We must be careful that our impatience is not interpreted as condemnation or rejection.”