As the concluding speaker during the general priesthood session, President Russell M. Nelson began his talk by expressing thanks:
“As a new First Presidency, we thank you for your prayers and for your sustaining efforts,” he said. “We are grateful for your lives and for your service to the Lord. Your devotion to duty and your selfless service are just as important in your callings as ours are in our callings. Through a lifetime of service in this Church, I have learned that it really doesn’t matter where one serves. What the Lord cares about is how one serves.”
The Church’s 17th president expressed his love and gratitude for his predecessor, President Thomas S. Monson. He also thanked President Monson’s counselors in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
“I commend them for their service to the Lord and His prophets. Both of these devoted servants have received new assignments. They continue to serve with vigor and commitment. I honor and love them both.”
It is a “remarkable blessing” to serve in the Lord’s “true and living Church” with authority and power, he said. “The restoration of the priesthood of God, including the keys of the priesthood, opens to worthy Latter-day Saints the greatest of all spiritual blessings. We see those blessings flowing to women, men, and children throughout the world.”
President Nelson saluted women who understand the power inherent in their callings and in the endowment and other temple ordinances.
“These women know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen their husbands, children, and others they love,” he said. “These are spiritually strong women who lead, teach, and minister fearlessly in their callings with the power and authority of God. How thankful I am for them.”
Likewise, there are faithful men “who live up” to their privileges as bearers of the priesthood.
“They lead and serve by sacrifice in the Lord’s way with love, kindness, and patience. They bless, guide, protect, and strengthen others by the power of the priesthood they hold. They bring miracles to those they serve while they keep their own marriages and families safe. They shun evil and are mighty elders in Israel. I am most thankful for them.”
President Nelson then voiced a concern:
“Too many of our brothers and sisters do not fully understand the concept of priesthood power and authority. They act as though they would rather satisfy their own selfish desires and appetites than use the power of God to bless His children.”
Too many men and women do not grasp the privileges that could be theirs, he added. Some of the brethren, for example, act as if they do not understand what the priesthood is and what it enables them to do. They pass up opportunities to utilize the priesthood to bless others.
“We know of brethren who set sisters apart as Primary, Young Women, or Relief Society leaders and teachers but fail to bless them with the power to fulfill their callings. They give only admonitions and instructions. We see a worthy father who fails to give his wife and his children priesthood blessings when that is exactly what they need.
“Priesthood power has been restored to this earth, and yet far too many brothers and sisters go through terrible trials in life without ever receiving a true priesthood blessing. What a tragedy! A tragedy that we can eliminate.”
Holders of the priesthood have the privilege to act in the name of Jesus Christ to bless God’s children according to His will for them, he said.
“Stake presidents and bishops, please ensure that every member of the quorums within your stewardship understands how to give a priesthood blessing — including the personal worthiness and spiritual preparation required to call fully upon the power of God,” he said.
President Nelson invited priesthood holders to inspire their fellow members to keep their covenants, fast and pray, study the scriptures, worship in the temple and serve with faith as men and women.
“We can help all to see with the eye of faith that obedience and righteousness will draw them closer to Jesus Christ, allow them to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and experience joy in life.”
President Nelson shared a personal experience from more than 60 years ago when he was a resident surgeon at a Boston hospital. He worked long hours and had limited time for his young family and Church activity. Nonetheless, he was assigned by his branch president to visit the home of Wilbur and Leonora Cox with the hope that Brother Cox might return to Church activity.
He and his companion went to the Cox home, but Brother Cox had little interest in their visit. Knowing Brother Cox was an amateur radio enthusiast, President Nelson asked his reluctant host if could teach him something about his hobby.
Brother Cox agreed. A wonderful friendship developed before the Nelsons moved away. But local leaders continued to nurture the Cox family.
Brother Cox returned to the Church, eventually serving as a stake president, mission president, patriarch and a temple president. Today, the Cox family enjoys a legacy of faith and missionary work.
“Brethren, there are doors we can open, priesthood blessings we can give, hearts we can heal, burdens we can lift, testimonies we can strengthen, lives we can save, and joy we can bring into the homes of the Latter-day Saints — all because we hold the priesthood of God.”