April 2021 priesthood session offers fail-proof navigational tools

Hundreds of thousands of brethren who viewed the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference likely utilize some sort of navigation app on their cellphones.

Such apps can be priceless tools, allowing users to find their ways to and from almost anywhere in the world. 

Saturday evening’s collection of timely and, yes, timeless direction doubles as spiritual navigational apps at a global moment that might seem foggy and disorienting.

For generations of Latter-day Saint men, Saturday’s gathering was a bit like reuniting with a trusted old friend. It has been two years since the last general conference priesthood session. The world has changed since the April 2019 general conference. Some things are better. Others, more difficult. Many have lost loved ones, their health or their jobs.

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“My heart goes out to each one of you who has suffered these or other losses,” said President Russell M. Nelson at the conclusion of Saturday’s session. “I pray constantly that the Lord will comfort you.”

But the hope that the gospel provides, he assured, remains unaffected by pandemics, civil unrest or any personal trial. “As you continue to let God prevail in your life, I know that He is just as optimistic about your future as He has ever been.”

The messages presented during the priesthood session of general conference were distinct in substance and delivery. But like a reliable navigation app, each speaker offered needed direction.

Latter-day Saints charged with ‘removing the debris’ through kindness, inclusion and Christlike love

President Nelson said the past two years has taught several precious lessons, including the primacy of  home gospel learning. 

At some point, Latter-day Saints everywhere will again worship together in large numbers.

A man in northern Utah participates in a session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021.
A man in northern Utah participates in a session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of LaThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“However, your commitment to make your home your primary sanctuary of faith should never end,” he said. “As faith and holiness decrease in this fallen world, your need for holy places will increase. I urge you to continue to make your home a truly holy place, and ‘be not moved’ from that essential goal” (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8).

The importance of looking out for one another, strengthening priesthood quorums and connecting with God through prayer, temple work and scripture study remain priceless lessons, he added.

While a navigation app’s virtual “voice” is typically singular, President Nelson’s prophetic voice was supplemented by several others Saturday evening. Both of his counselors in the First Presidency — President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — enriched the evening’s messages of direction.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021.
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Oaks posed a question that could be asked daily before beginning even one’s most routine journeys: “What has Jesus Christ done for us?”

With trademark clarity, the veteran Apostle offered the answer. “He has done everything that is essential for our journey through mortality toward the destiny outlined in the plan of our Heavenly Father.”

Priesthood session: See photos and read summaries of the April 2021 general conference

President Oak’s Easter Eve message focused on the Resurrection and its affirming direction in all aspects of life. “The resurrection gives us more than this assurance of immortality.  It changes the way we view mortal life.”

President Eyring, meanwhile, shared direction on how and why “to grow” in priesthood service. “The purpose for our receiving the priesthood is to allow us to bless people for the Lord, doing so in His name.”

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021.
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Anyone who holds the priesthood has likely felt he may not be up to the task of utilizing that divinely appointed authority to bless others. They can find comfort in President Eyring’s gentle direction:

“I invite you to ask prayerfully how the Lord sees you. He knows you personally, He conferred the priesthood upon you, and your rising up and magnifying the priesthood matter to Him because He loves you and He trusts you to bless people He loves in His name.”

A shepherd’s primary duty is offering safe guidance to the flock. The bishoprics of the Church, taught Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, serve as shepherds “over the Lord’s flock.”

A bishop’s inspired direction offers lifelong safety to those he serves.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Bishops, please know that a relatively short time spent with a young priest, young woman or young adult can help them understand the power available to them through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” taught Elder Cook. “It can provide a vision that will have a profound influence upon their entire life.”

A former professional football quarterback, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen knows well the importance of calm leadership amid chaos and uncertainty. An athlete with doubts about his or her ability to meet all challenges rarely knows victory.

And so it is with those trials all will face of far more lasting importance. 

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, General Authority Seventy, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021.
Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, General Authority Seventy, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Maybe we don’t always feel up to the challenge,” said Elder Nielsen. “But our Heavenly Father sees us as fearless builders of His kingdom. That is why He sent us here during this most decisive time in the world’s history. This is our time.”

Never forget, many of God’s mightiest servants — including Moses, Mary, Moroni, Alma and Esther — were regular people who faced steep challenges, trusted God and made the right choices at pivotal moments.

Even the best cellphone navigation apps sometimes fail. Batteries die. Network systems crash. But conference viewers were reminded Saturday that one’s eternal sojourn can be guided with far greater certainty.

“Remember, there is always one reliable source of strength and courage,” said Elder Nielsen.  “The arms of Jesus extend to us, just as they extended to Peter. As we reach for Him, He will lovingly rescue us. We are His.”

“Pay it forward” is an expression often used. It means, of course, to respond to a person’s kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else. The same principle applies in being a valued gospel navigator and “paying forward” direction to others in need of guidance.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, taught young priesthood holders gathered in Saturday’s vast audience to guide others by inviting them to come to Christ.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021.
Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference on April 3, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“As you youth lead in living the gospel, caring for others, inviting all to receive the gospel, uniting families for eternity, and organizing fun activities, the great faith in Christ you had in the premortal life will resurface and empower you to do His work in this life,” he said.

God’s living prophet, President Nelson, concluded Saturday’s priesthood session by promising a bright future for all who choose to navigate their lives along the covenant path.

“The Lord will increasingly call upon His servants who worthily hold the priesthood to bless, comfort and strengthen mankind and to help prepare the world and its people for His Second Coming. It behooves each of us to measure up to the sacred ordination we have received. We can do this!”