Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies who are trained in their duties and allowed to lead out are effective shepherds in helping their peers accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.
In recent training to Aaronic Priesthood leaders, Elder Jack H Goaslind of the Seventy and Young Men general president noted that presidents and their counselors are to not only preside over their fquorums, but also have a responsibility to teach quorum members their duties (D&C 107:85-87) and to watch over and strengthen them.
"Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies, when properly trained and motivated, influence to an unusual degree th lives of young men in the Church," he explanined. "The Lord entrusts to these young men a great deal of responsiblility, and we need to have as much faith in their ablility to carry that load as the Lord has. If Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies were trained with the same enthusiasm and care as elders quorum presidencies and high priests group leaders, a great difference could be made in hundreds of thousands of lives."
According to page 11 of the Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Handbook: "Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents are givven the keys to administer the affairs of the quorums over which they preside. They are the active, directing heads of the quorums."
Elder Goaslind shared an example of the effectiveness of a well-trained, motivated Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidency he witnessed while assigned at a stake conference.
He recalled conducting the priesthood leadership session on Saturday afternoon. The Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies in the stake had been invited to attend, and the topic of instruction was activation. Elder Goaslind asked that those who had recently been involved in helping encourage a person toward greater Church activity stand. A fair number of men and young men stood up. He then asked that those who had been successfully involved in this process with two, three, four and more people to remain standing.
Finally, the only one still on his feet was a young president of a teachers quorum. The young man explained that his adult leaders had provided effective training for the young presidency from the scriptures and the handbooks, but had helped the youth to understand that they presided over the quorum. The presidency would meet weekly with their advisers, and then the young men would go and visit their quorum brothers who had not attended Sunday meetings.
Through consistent weekly visits, the quorum reached a level of full activity, with every young man active and participating and reaping the blessings of participation in the priesthood and Church activity.
In another stake, leaders had posters printed listing the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, and quorum presidencies took them to the homes of each quorum member. At each visit, they encouraged their friends to put the poster where they would see it each day and be reminded of their duties. They also reviewed upcoming quorum activities and invited their young friends to attend.
"Each young man needs to feel that he has an important work to do and that he is part of the
engine' of the priesthood and not part of thebaggage,' " said Elder Goaslind. "Boys need `wood to chop' and to understand the brotherhood of the quorum."
He said that this brotherhood is fostered when adult leaders spend time with youth outside of Sunday meetings, when they work alongside them providing service, or cheer them on at their athletic events or other activities.
One branch president who understands this concept and incorporates it in his leadership is Pres. Lloyd Hammock of the Cleveland Branch, Tulsa Oklahoma Stake. Waylon Lowery, who recently turned 16, served as president of the teachers quorum before becoming a priest.
"Waylon is really a good young man," said Pres. Hammock. "He's very spiritual, and is a fine leader. He has been a support to me in many ways. He knew his duties as a deacon and performed them as he should. As a teacher, he dove right into quorum activities and held leadership positions there. I'm glad to have him in the priests quorum where I can have a little closer contact with him.
"Not only do Waylon and I share a brotherhood in the priesthood and work together on Aaronic Priesthood matters, but we're good friends also. It's nice to be able to be a friend with those you work with. I have a lot of respect for the young men here in the branch. They're all good young men."
Waylon and the others often assist with service projects, in making visits, and in providing the sacrament for elderly shut-in members of the branch, according to Pres. Hammock. Their service blesses many lives, including their own.