President Bonnie H. Cordon: Leading with power, promise and holiness

In this essay, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon writes of three ‘spiritual treasures’ she’s received from accepting callings

Editor’s note: The Church News invited President Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to write an essay about accessing priesthood power. The following is her essay.

I was called as the Primary music leader for the second time — and apparently, I was not the only one receiving a new calling in our ward that day.

Member after member stood as their name was called. The bishop optimistically invited all of us to come and be set apart in his office after church. Not wanting to overburden him, I told myself, “I will forgo the setting apart. The sweet blessing can wait. I’ll save the bishop a little time so he can get home for Sunday dinner with his family.”

A portrait of Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon.
Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Nothing could go wrong.

Until it did.

What should have been muscle memory as a music leader and “the easiness of the way,” (Alma 37:46) quickly became my stumbling block. As I struggled, prayed and asked for help, the Lord gently gave me a spiritual nudge.

“Bonnie, I happen to have a solution.” With a sense of stillness, a thought filled my heart: you have not been set apart! You have not received delegated priesthood authority for your calling.

In the simplicity and frequency of a setting apart, we may miss the significance of this priesthood ordinance — an ordinance that quite literally sets us apart from the world and designates us for the Lord’s work.

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The Lord said to Moses and to the Prophet Joseph, “I have a work for thee” (Moses 1:6). To Emma, He said: “thou shalt be ordained [or set apart] under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:7).

We, both women and men, are set apart through priesthood keys to act with priesthood authority as the Lord’s authorized agents to carry out His work with His power. President Russell M. Nelson reminds us, “The Holy Ghost will be your personal tutor as you seek to understand what the Lord would have you know and do. ... What could possibly be more exciting than to labor with the Spirit to understand God’s power — priesthood power?” (“Spiritual Treasures,” Ensign, November 2019).

Ultimately the source of all blessings and power is God, and our access to that power is through our covenants with Him. As faithful children of the covenant, we are not of the world; we are His, with access to His power as we help prepare the world for the Savior’s Second Coming. Oh, how we treasure these covenants.

When we add a calling to this covenant foundation, our understanding of God’s power accelerates. Here are just three of the many spiritual treasures that have come into my life as I have accepted callings:

1. Divine power: Don’t underestimate the access we have from heaven to call down help, blessings and understanding. President Nelson declared, “Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power” (“Spiritual Treasures,” Ensign, November 2019).

Being set apart in your specific calling, you can draw on the Spirit to guide you in your area of responsibility. One young woman set apart as a class president exclaimed, “Revelation seems more abundant when I am serving others!” Even when a release comes, your ability to hear the Lord will be forever changed.

2. Promise: The Holy Spirit will not overwhelm us. We may overwhelm ourselves, but the Spirt will not overwhelm us. The constant nudges, those small and simple ideas that come, will only enhance our vision in our calling. As we act on the impressions and ideas, we see the power of God is evident in our lives. You will find yourself feeling a new confidence in your calling and in those called to serve with you.

3. Holiness: Callings can aid in our spiritual progress. You will need to let go of that which is not worthy of your time or energy because you will simply need to adjust to make room for your calling. “Some things that seem important to you now will recede in priority. ... As you embark upon and continue this lifelong process of consecrating your life to the Lord, the changes in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you!” (“Spiritual Treasures,” Ensign, November 2019).

Our Savior Jesus Christ not only knows the way, He is the way. He longs to bless us with His power through our covenants and in our callings. The next time you accept an invitation to serve the Lord, I invite you to be first in line to be set apart. When we are set apart and act diligently on the privileges and responsibilities bestowed upon us, God can and will create in us a more Christlike mind, a purer heart and a nobler spirit. All that He asks is our willingness to serve faithfully (“What exactly does it mean when we are set apart for a Church calling?” by Ronald D. Maines, Ensign, February 1992).

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President Nelson’s invitation to study priesthood power

The heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood, said President Russell M. Nelson during the women’s session of October 2019 general conference.

President Russell M. Nelson, center, waves at the crowd following the women’s session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Behind him are President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, left, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, and on the right is Sister Wendy Nelson, President Nelson’s wife.
Colter Peterson, Deseret News

“I pray that truth will register upon each of your hearts because I believe it will change your life. … I would like to leave a blessing upon you, that you may understand the priesthood power with which you have been endowed and that you will augment that power by exercising your faith in the Lord and in His power.”

Speaking during the women’s session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference, President Nelson addressed the topic, “Spiritual Treasures.” Just three days after announcing a historic policy change allowing women, youth and children to serve as witnesses of sealing and baptismal ordinances performed in and out of temples, President Nelson addressed women about priesthood power, covenants and holy temples.

President Nelson invited Latter-day Saint women to study prayerfully all the truths they can find about priesthood power. “As your understanding increases and as you exercise faith in the Lord and His priesthood power, your ability to draw upon this spiritual treasure that the Lord has made available to you will increase. As you do so, you will find yourselves better able to help create eternal families that are united, sealed in the temple of the Lord, and full of love for our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”

In 2020, in an effort to amplify the Prophet’s invitation for women to seek an understanding of priesthood power, the Church News joined with the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary general presidencies and advisory councils to create a series of articles sharing personal stories, experiences and thoughts about priesthood power.

These articles can be found in the “Women of Covenant” section of the Church News website.

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