Performance and Priesthood (Pres. Eyring) #ldsconf

In the Priesthood Session, coming to a living room near you, Pres. Eyring began by addressing each of the offices of the Aaronic Priesthood in turn, talking about the acts they perform in their priesthood, their duties.  He presents each act simply without aggrandizing the individuals who perform these acts, indeed with a focus on the humility and dare I say cluelessness (certainly guilelessness) of the Preisthood holders, and then contrasts that with what the Lord brings to the act.  We perform simple acts routinely, often without much thought, and the Lord magnifies and sanctifies those acts beyond our understanding and capability.  We perform small acts; God does the heavy lifting.

Obviously this talk applies to any calling any member may be given, whether a man, a woman, a boy or a girl.  But this is the Priesthood Session, so the examples will be boys and men.  He gives three Priesthood examples:  passing the sacrament, home teaching, baptism, and fellowshiping others.  In each case, our performance is a simple act, but:

The Lord will do His greater part.

He focuses on how it feels to perform these acts.  We may have performance anxiety.  We may feel casual about the acts.  We sometimes forget the acts we perform.  But if we do our simple part, the Lord will perform his work through those simple, often routine or repetitive acts.  They say in Hollywood that there are no small parts, only small actors; Pres. Eyring is saying that we are all small actors performing small parts, and that the Lord’s work carries on through our small acts.  And so the powerful play goes on.  We aren’t the playwright, just the small actor performing a small part.

I couldn’t help but think of my own son who is first assistant and responsible to either take the sacrament to the older people who can’t be at church or to delegate this task to someone in the quorum to do.  His initial focus was on his own performance anxiety.  Would the other boys go if he asked?  Would he be able to find the houses?  On more than one occasion, he walked out of the house without the bread.  Through simple repetition, his performance of the task became easier.  When one of the older members died a few weeks ago, I realized that without this simple task he performed, he would never have known most of these older members who can’t attend church.  He would have had no tie to them and been unaware of their existence.  Because of his task, his own perspective was broader than it would otherwise be.

In speaking of an Elder’s Quorum President who had befriended many inactive men who had returned to church, he says:

You can see why he was modest. It was because he knew he had done his small part and the Lord was doing the rest. It was the Lord who had touched the hearts of those men in their troubles. It was the Lord who had given them the feeling that there must be something better for them and a hope that they could find it.

The young man, who—like you—was a servant of the Lord, simply believed that if he did his small part, the Lord would help those men along the path to home and to the happiness only He could give them.

He goes on to talk about greater acts that we may be asked to perform, tasks that we feel are far beyond our experience or ability.  He shares the example of his ancestor as a mission president who initially felt like a new deacon when he was called to such a great responsibility.  As his mission progressed, he was faced with political changes that make continuing the work impossible, but he also feels the weight of his responsibility and is unsure whether to return or not.  He prays for guidance and has a dream that directs his actions and gives him comfort.  This divine guidance is something we are entitled to, and as Pres. Eyring notes:

Whatever your calling in the priesthood, you may have at times felt Heavenly Father was unaware of you. You can pray to know His will, and with the honest desire to do whatever He asks you to do, you will receive an answer.

He adds that another source of support is our church leaders.  We perform our acts, but we also serve one another, and leaders are aware of those in their charge, those to whom they have delegated responsibility.  Since the highest church calling is the prophet, this is encapsulated by Pres. Eyring’s summary:

It is my prayer as well that every priesthood holder will feel the loving and watchful care of Heavenly Father, of the Savior, and of the prophet of God in his calling.

Knowing that we have the support of God and of church leaders as we attempt to perform our roles should be a source of strength and courage to us:

The only reason he could have had the courage to go was that he knew in his heart that God had called him through His authorized servants. It was the source of his courage. That must be the source of our courage to persevere, whatever our callings in the priesthood.

We aren’t being set up to fail.  All we have to do is perform our parts.

We often talk about boundary maintenance in the bloggernacle, the idea that we need to keep some semblance of personal life and privacy in our interactions with leaders.  Boundaries are breached when leaders have either abused the trust of an individual or have been too demanding or controlling.  These are not the types of leaders Pres. Eyring is describing, although such certainly exist as we know from D&C 121: 45.  Sometimes demands come in the form of trying to “guilt” people into magnifying their callings.

What a welcome contrast Pres. Eyring’s talk provides.  Rather than pushing us to magnify our callings or to focus on results, he points out that it is the Lord who magnifies our simple acts into far-reaching results.  We neither deserve the credit nor the blame for the results so long as we perform our simple acts.  Less is more.  And doing our part is doing enough.

Comments

  1. It wasn’t his father. It was a more distant ancestor who was baptized March 11, 1855, and also happened to be named Henry Eyring.

  2. Thanks – fixing it!

  3. Thanks, Angela. This was, imo, the best talk of Priesthood session. I think that if we all just focused on quietly doing our part, whatever it is, things would work out pretty nicely.

  4. A Happy Hubby says:

    I really like the last two paragraphs about boundaries with leaders as well as we just need to do our part. I worry about a son that will leave in a few months for his mission and I am not sure he will do good if they really push hard on, “baptisms will depend on just how obedient you are to every single letter of the law” – like ending a weekly email home 1/2 way through an inspiring story with, “Sorry – time is up, I have to go.” Sigh