Monday, March 4, 2013

The Joy of the Priesthood

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Joy of the Priesthood, by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

I commute to work on a motorcycle. It's not because I'm a biker, it's because I'm a cheapskate. You see, by biking, I save hundreds of dollars a year on gas and insurance. (My bike gets 70 miles per gallon, and costs next-to-nothing to insure annually.) Before you get rid of a car and switch to motorcycle, you should know that rain, wind, snow, and ice are no fun on a motorcycle (the other elements and weather types are fantastic, though). Nevertheless, I ride.

This morning it was cold for south Florida: a crisp 44° F. While it wasn't technically freezing, it was freezing! It felt so cold that I needed to move my fingers to keep the blood flowing, and I was controlling my breathing to keep my nose warm (inhale through mouth, hold breath for about a minute, exhale warm air slowly through nostrils, repeat). Perhaps I'm just a wimp, but I started to wonder if the joys (and monetary savings) of motorcycle ownership really do outweigh the pain of cold and inconvenience of rain.

In summary, I complained. But just a little.

I reviewed President Uchtdorf's priesthood session address over lunch today. In it, he compared different flying experiences he's had: 1938 Piper Cub compared with a modern Blue Angels F-18. He says that he thoroughly enjoyed both flying experiences (he's a bit of a flying nut--not to be confused with an air head), and later compared the two to priesthood service opportunities. To connect the comparison of flight to priesthood service, he said:

As a pilot, I have touched the skies. As a Church member, I have felt heaven’s embrace.

Our ward (local church congregation) was recently divided into two wards. Whereas we once seemed to have so many people willing to serve that opportunities had to be sought out, it now feels more like each person has numerous callings and no longer has time to look for additional service opportunities. President Uchtdorf compared these types of disparate service scenarios to the two planes mentioned above: some wards are well-staffed, others "feel alone and burdened with the weight of all that needs to be done."

Since this is a talk from the priesthood session, his remarks were focused on the priesthood. I went to the church building to watch this session live, but I didn't go alone: my eight-yr-old son accompanied me. Although he won't be eligible to receive the priesthood until he's twelve, he still asks to go to these meetings with me (and I rarely turn him away)! At one point of his talk, President Uchtdorf said, "Each of us had hands laid upon our head, and we received the priesthood of God." At this point, my son turned to me and excitedly replied: "I don't; I have the gift of the Holy Ghost, though!"

I hope my son's excitement continues through his life as he learns and has more opportunities to lift and help others. I don't want him to fall into the category that President Uchtdorf described thus:

I feel a certain sadness for those who do not grasp and appreciate the wonder and privilege of the priesthood. They are like passengers on an airplane who spend their time grumbling about the size of the packet of peanuts while they are soaring through the air, far above the clouds—something ancient kings would have given all they possessed to try and experience just once!

I don't want you to think I'm complaining—I'm grateful for the opportunity I have now to fill many roles in our Piper Cub ward (that used to be an F-18). As I read this talk, I was reminded of how I did complain about the cold on my motorcycle commute this morning. I know it's not as great a comparison as President Uchtdorf's airplanes, but as I felt the strange itchy sensation in my fingers as they thawed and normal feeling returned this morning, I admit that I found the whole experience strangely exciting and humorous—I endured pain and discomfort to save a few dollars.

Cold motorcycle rides aside, I don't want to complain when it comes to priesthood service. I liked what President Uchtdorf had to say about this:

Let us embrace and understand the wonder and privilege of the priesthood. Let us accept and love the responsibilities we are asked to fulfill—responsibilities in our homes and in our Church units, no matter how large or small they may be. Let us constantly increase in righteousness, dedication, and priesthood service. Let us find the joy of serving in the priesthood!

I hope that as I enjoy my time in the Piper Cub and F-18 wards alike, my children will likewise "accept and love the responsibilities [they] are asked to fulfill."

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