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President Henry B. Eyring: 'The preparatory priesthood'

“The Lord’s plan for His work is filled with preparation,” President Henry B. Eyring said as he announced that his priesthood session address was about the Aaronic Priesthood, which he said is also called the “preparatory” priesthood.

“[The Lord] prepared the earth for us to experience the tests and the opportunities of mortality,” said President Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency. “While we are here we are in what the scriptures call a ‘preparatory state.’ ”

President Eyring observed, “Just as the time we have been given to live in mortality is to prepare to meet God, the time we are given to serve in the Aaronic Priesthood is an opportunity to prepare us to learn how to give crucial help to others. Just as the Lord gives the help we require to pass the tests of mortal life, He also sends us help in our priesthood assignments.”

President Eyring shared several stories to illustrate the importance of preparing Aaronic Priesthood holders to magnify their callings.

He said he and his brothers were the only Aaronic Priesthood holders in a little branch in the eastern United States. Their father, the branch president, invited a middle-aged man to join the Church. “The new convert received the Aaronic Priesthood and with it a call to watch over the Aaronic Priesthood. ... That new convert accompanied my brother and me to do something for a widow. I don’t remember what the project was, but I do remember feeling that the priesthood power joined in doing what, I later learned the Lord had said, we must do to have our sins forgiven and so be prepared to see Him.”

President Eyring recounted being called as the first assistant to the bishop in the priests quorum to which he belonged after the family had moved to Utah. “My bishop had powerful counselors,” he said, “and ... more than once he called me at home and said, ‘Hal, I need you to go with me as a companion to make some visits.’ Once, it was to take me with him to the home of a widow living alone and without any food in the house. On the way home he stopped his car, opened his scriptures and told me why he had treated that widow as if she had the power not only to care for herself, but would at some future time be able to help others.”

Another visit, he said was to a home where two little girls were sent by their alcoholic parents to meet them at the door. “The bishop kept talking to them, smiling and praising their goodness for what seemed to me 10 minutes or more,” he said. “As I walked away at his side, he said quietly, ‘That was a good visit. Those little girls will never forget that we came.’ ”

President Eyring said that two blessings a senior priesthood companion can give are trust and an example of caring. “I saw that when my son was given a home teaching companion who had vastly more priesthood experience than he,” he recalled. “His senior companion had been a mission president twice, and he had served in other leadership positions.”

President Eyring said that before they were to visit one of their assigned families, the seasoned priesthood leader visited President Eyring’s son and allowed the father to listen. “He opened with prayer asking for help. Then he said something like this to my son: ‘I think we should teach a lesson that will sound to this family like a call to repentance. I think they would take the message better from you than they would from me. How do you feel about that?’ I can still feel the happiness of that moment when my son accepted the trust.”

In helping prepare others, even more powerful than using words in teaching doctrine will be examples of living the doctrine, he said. He told of an occasion when his father, a scientist and faithful priesthood holder, was asked by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to write a paper on science and religion. Before submitting it, he asked his son to read it, trusting that he would know if it was right. President Eyring said he is still strengthened by the trust his father showed in him.

“Our success in preparing others in the priesthood will come in proportion to how much we love them,” he said, adding that when it is necessary to correct Aaronic Priesthood holders in the performance of ordinances, “they must have felt your genuine praise before they will accept your correction.”

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