The priesthood is the authority of God delegated to men on the earth to act in all things for the salvation of mankind (see Spencer W. Kimball, "The Example of Abraham," Ensign, June 1975, 3). Priesthood is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls. One of the defining features of the Church of Jesus Christ, both anciently and today, is His authority. There can be no true Church without divine authority.
Ordinary men are given the authority of the priesthood. Worthiness and willingness--not experience, expertise, or education--are the qualifications for priesthood ordination.
The pattern for obtaining priesthood authority is described in the fifth article of faith: "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." Thus, a boy or a man receives the authority of the priesthood and is ordained to a specific office by one who already holds the priesthood and has been authorized by a leader with the necessary priesthood keys.
A priesthood holder is expected to exercise this sacred authority in accordance with God's holy mind, will, and purposes. Nothing about the priesthood is self-centered. The priesthood always is used to serve, to bless, and to strengthen other people.
The higher priesthood is received by a solemn covenant that includes the obligation to act in the authority (see D&C 68:8) and the office (see D&C 107:99) that have been received. As bearers of God's holy authority, we are agents to act and not objects to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The priesthood is inherently active rather than passive.
- David A. Bednar, “The Powers of Heaven” – April 2012 General Conference
Dear young men of the Church, let me ask you a question that I hope you will carry in your heart for the rest of your life. What greater power can you acquire on earth than the priesthood of God? What power could possibly be greater than the capacity to assist our Heavenly Father in changing the lives of your fellowmen, to help them along the pathway of eternal happiness by being cleansed of sin and wrongdoing?
Like any other power, the priesthood needs to be exercised to accomplish any good. You are called to "arise and shine forth" (D&C 115:5), not to hide your light in darkness. Only those who are brave will be counted among the chosen. As you exercise the power of your sacred priesthood, your courage and confidence will increase. Young men, you know that you are at your best when you are in the service of God. You know that you are happiest when you are anxiously engaged in a good work. Magnify the power of your priesthood by being clean and being worthy.
I add my voice to the call Elder Jeffrey R. Holland made to you six months ago from this pulpit. "I am looking," he said, "for men young and old who care enough about this battle between good and evil to sign on and speak up. We are at war." He continued, "... I ask for a stronger and more devoted voice, a voice not only against evil ... , but a voice for good, a voice for the gospel, a voice for God" ("We Are All Enlisted," Liahona andEnsign, Nov. 2011, 44, 47).
Yes, Aaronic Priesthood holders, we are at war. And in this war, the best way to defend against evil is to actively promote righteousness. You cannot listen to foul words and pretend you don't hear. You cannot watch, alone or with others, images you know are filthy and pretend you don't see. You cannot touch any unclean thing and pretend it's no big deal. You cannot be passive when Satan seeks to destroy that which is wholesome and pure. Instead, stand up boldly for what you know is true! When you hear or see anything that violates the Lord's standards, remember who you are--a soldier in the army of God Himself, empowered with His holy priesthood. There is no better weapon against the enemy, the father of lies, than the truth that will come out of your mouth as you exercise the power of the priesthood. Most of your peers will respect you for your courage and your integrity. Some will not. But that doesn't matter. You will gain the respect and trust of Heavenly Father because you used His power to accomplish His purposes.
I call on every Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidency to once again raise the title of liberty and organize and lead your battalions. Utilize your priesthood power by inviting those around you to come unto Christ through repentance and baptism. You have the mandate and power of Heavenly Father to do it.
-Adrian Ochoa, “Aaronic Priesthood: Arise and Use the Power of God“, April 2012 General Conference