Declaring repeatedly that "priesthood is the power and authority delegated to man by our Heavenly Father," Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve in his Saturday evening address shared personal experiences he had in his boyhood with the priesthood. With this address, he became the oldest apostle in this dispensation to speak in general conference.
"My first brush with the priesthood was when I was baptized," he recalled. He said that while standing with his friends on the bank of an irrigation canal, he saw his father come out of the ward meetinghouse with his counselors, carrying a chair. The father called to him and said they were going to baptize him. The boy was in his "bib swimming suit" at the time, but the father went down into the water with him without changing his clothing.
"This was my first experience, really, with the priesthood," he said. "Isn't it interesting to visualize how the Lord and His Heavenly Father, in setting up the plan of salvation, organized it so that men could be worthy enough and could be honored to hold the priesthood and join in the large army of men necessary to bring about the eternal purposes of our Heavenly Father, to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man mankind everywhere? What a mighty group that would entail!"
Elder Haight told of being ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, this time with his bishop officiating because his father had died in the meantime. "I remember that I had a wonderful feeling about that," he said, "as [the bishop] conferred the priesthood upon me, that I now had responsibilities and would be accountable for my actions and would have things to learn to do as I would progress through life. I did have a special feeling that I was now a little different, that I wouldn't be exactly the same as friends who did not hold the priesthood or people that you would meet out in the world."
He reminisced about the death of his father, when men of the priesthood helped with the burial, and a good man refused payment from Elder Haight's mother for his help in digging the grave.
"Isn't it interesting," he said, "in the wisdom of our Heavenly Father and His Son, in putting all of these things together, how in the lesser priesthood we learn to do the temporal chores? We'll have temporal duties learning in a humble, simple way those things that need to be done. This will teach us of service and of living the commandments of the Lord, preparing us so that we someday will be advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood, with all the majesty and the eternal glory that that entails."
Elder Haight spoke of an occasion while he was in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was in the tail of an old sea plane in a sleeping bag. Flying over San Francisco during a wartime blackout that night, he took stock of himself, wondering if he was doing all that he should. "Looking back on that sleepless night, I thank the Lord for His blessings today and for all that I have had the opportunity to be involved in," he said. "I try always to live the gospel to the fullest, to do everything I am called on to do with all of my heart, might, mind and strength, to fulfill any call that might come to me so I may be qualified to do whatever I might be asked to do someday."