Duty to God Based on trio of imperatives
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In an October 2008 general conference address, President Thomas S. Monson listed a trio of imperatives to become a "profitable servant" of the Lord: "First, learn what we should learn. Second, do what we should do. And third, be what we should be."
Those three directions anchor and define the new Duty to God program that will be implemented in the coming months in Aaronic Priesthood quorums worldwide. Church leaders have refined the program with the hope that every young man in the Church will strengthen his relationship with God even as he learns and fulfills his priesthood duties and serves others.
In an interview with the Church News, Young Men General President David L. Beck and his counselors, Brother Larry M. Gibson and Brother Adrian Ochoa, spoke of the faith-building opportunities that are offered by the new Duty to God program. The basis of the new program, they said, can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 107:99 — "Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence."
The new Duty to God program is not primarily an achievement program with pre-determined requirements, Brother Beck said. Rather, it's about a boy transforming into a faithful priesthood man. The program focuses on allowing a young man to prayerfully outline his own personal, lifelong journey of learning what God would have him become and do.
"The individual aspects of the program help the boy develop self-reliance and the ability to take responsibility for his own spiritual growth," he added.
In a talk delivered during the priesthood session of the Church's recent general conference, Brother Beck explained that deacons, teachers and priests will participate in Duty to God activities designed to help them learn and fulfill their priesthood duties. Each activity will follow a simple pattern:
"First, you learn about a gospel principle or a priesthood duty. You discover what Heavenly Father wants you to do, and you strive to gain a spiritual witness about why it is important.
"Next, you make plans to act on what you have learned. You are encouraged to base your plans on your own needs, circumstances and opportunities to serve others. This is a wonderful chance to take responsibility for your own growth and develop spiritual self-reliance.
"Then you share what you learn and experience with others. As you do so, you will strengthen your testimony and build faith in those around you. You will increase your ability to talk about the gospel with others."
The new Duty to God program's "learn-act-share" pattern will help a young man better prepare for future opportunities such as a full-time mission, a temple marriage and his lifelong duty to share the gospel with others.
Aaronic Priesthood holders "are preparing the way of the Lord," said Brother Gibson. "The major objective they have is to bring all unto Christ. If they are prepared and functioning in the Aaronic Priesthood, they are bringing all unto Christ."
Young men, added Brother Ochoa, will be asked to enlist divine guidance as they participate in the new Duty to God program. "As they select their activities, they are to do it prayerfully. They will discover many things about themselves that will help them grow and develop."
Brother Beck said the new program has already been field tested in different areas of the world. From those tests, the presidency discovered two key findings. First, the most successful implementations occurred where local priesthood leadership was vigorously involved in the program's implementation and follow-up. Second, those quorums that integrated Duty to God in their Sunday quorum meetings consistently realized better results.
Parents should also play a pivotal role in the program's implementation, said Brother Gibson.
Printed in 27 languages, the new Duty to God program materials in English are expected to be mailed to wards and branches starting in June. Materials in other languages will be shipped later in the year. The new program includes one book for all young men, rather than separate books for deacons, teachers and priests as in the previous program. Once they receive the new materials, local priesthood leaders will be asked to hold a training meeting about the new Duty to God program with young men and their parents. Young men should begin using the new program after this training meeting.
Until the new materials are available, young men are encouraged to continue with the existing Duty to God program. During the transition to the new program, the certificates and medallion from the previous program will still be available for young men who want to earn them.
Additional resources on how to implement and utilize the new Duty to God program will be available later this year at DutytoGod.lds.org.
The new Duty to God program will challenge young men to tap deep spiritual resources as they seek to fortify their relationship with God and learn their duties. "This [program] is about a young man seeking inspiration and strength from his Heavenly Father," Brother Beck said. "It's about understanding what God would have him do."