The six-fold mission of the Aaronic Priesthood reflects the vision of who young men really are and who they can become, emphasized Elder Stephen D. Nadauld at the Priesthood Commemoration Fireside Sunday, May 3.
Elder Nadauld, a member of the Seventy and second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, encouraged young men and their leaders to put the mission of the Aaronic Priesthood on a poster and place it on a wall where it can be seen every day."The priesthood to prepare - the Aaronic Priesthood - has been restored; it is here on the earth for you to use," Elder Nadauld said. "It is here to help carve and mold you. The tools are Heavenly Father's own. He has a vision, your parents and we, your priesthood leaders, have a vision of who you are and who you are to become. We need you to catch that vision! It is embodied in the mission of the Aaronic Priesthood. . . .
"The most important thing you can do in this life is hold the priesthood honorably and use it wisely. I promise you as the days go by and you live by its precepts, the handiwork of the Lord will make of you mighty men of God."
During his address, Elder Nadauld held the rapt attention of priesthood holders, young and old, with not only the spoken word, but also by using a short videotaped segment depicting the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
"Brethren, you'll have to agree that the restoration of the priesthood through the visit of John the Baptist is remarkable, wonderful and well worth remembering," said Elder Nadauld, following the videotape. "But you may also ask, `Why is it important to me today?' "
Responding to his own question, Elder Nadauld held up a branch from a Russian olive tree. "Not anything special or unusual, just a common stick. Or is it?" he asked.
"Maybe it's a baseball bat and you are facing Nolan Ryan in the ninth inning. Or a golf club and you're Freddie Couples in a sand trap."
Laughter filled the Tabernacle as Elder Nadauld demonstrated using the stick as a bat and a golf club, excusing himself as he took a hefty golf swing in front of President Thomas S. Monson.
"It's pretty tough when your sand trap has a podium in it," Elder Nadauld quipped.
He then made his point: "One of life's greatest wonders is to take something like this old stick, and visualize - that is, to see in your mind's eye - what it may become. Here is what one stick like this became. It was carefully carved and molded into a useful and handsome walking stick."
Elder Nadauld then displayed a beautifully carved and finished walking stick.
Pictures of young men and boys were then flashed on the large screen. "So, what do you see on the screen? A boy . . . not anything unusual or special, just a common boy. . . .
"The man who carved the walking stick looked past the bark, past the gnarled shape and, looking into the heart of the wood, saw what it could become. So it is with a boy. Heavenly Father looks past the freckles, the tousled hair and the legs too short to dunk [a basketballT. He sees what a boy may become. But there is carving and molding to be done. And so the Aaronic Priesthood has been restored, the priesthood of God whose purpose is to begin the carving and molding to prepare a boy to become a special kind of man.
"When we look at you young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, we see missionaries, we see husbands, fathers, we see Melchizedek Priesthood holders doing Melchizedek Priesthood work to build our Heavenly Father's kingdom. What does the Aaronic Priesthood mean to every young man in the Church? It means the priesthood to prepare - to start doing priesthood work of a particular kind - the kind of work, the kind of experience that will help a young man fulfill the vision that our Heavenly Father has for you."
- No Aaronic Priesthood mission posters are available through Church Distribution. Elder Nadauld suggested in his fireside address, and afterward told Church News, that posters could be made up by young men with help from parents and priesthood leaders. The copy of the Aaronic Priesthood mission illustrated below may be clipped and saved for that purpose.