Duty to God program preparing young men worldwide
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Las Vegas Nevada Highland Hills Stake President Todd Moody was thrilled when his son, Johnson, recently received a mission call to Singapore.
President Moody wondered what he could do to help his son best prepare for the Missionary Training Center. He came to understand that the MTC would take care of teaching the language skills and other day-to-day missionary tools young Elder Moody would utilize in Singapore. The most important item he would need before beginning his mission is a testimony and a firm "understanding of the doctrines of the gospel."
Now Aaronic Priesthood holders have an additional tool to help them build their testimonies even as they better understand and live the eternal doctrines of the gospel: the revised Duty to God program. Program materials have been mailed to many stakes and wards in the Church. Meanwhile, local priesthood leaders are organizing training meetings to help young men and their parents understand how Duty to God works and how best to implement the program in their quorums and personal lives.
President Moody recently presided over such a meeting in his stake. He's eager to see how Duty to God will better the lives of the young men in his charge.
"This program will prepare them for the temple, for missionary work and for fatherhood," he said.
Introduced during the April 2010 priesthood session of general conference, the new Duty to God program being implemented worldwide is designed to help a young man prayerfully outline his own personal, lifelong journey to learn what God would have him become and do.
Each young man will be given a Duty to God manual that he will use as a deacon, teacher and priest. A message from the First Presidency near the front of the booklet speaks of the trust Heavenly Father has in the Aaronic Priesthood holders in the Church. The Duty to God program — used in conjunction with the scriptures and "For the Strength of Youth" booklet — can help a young man learn and live his sacred duty to the Lord.
"He will help you as you turn to Him in prayer, listen for the promptings of the Spirit, obey the commandments and keep the covenants that you have made," wrote the First Presidency. "You will feel a great sense of accomplishment as you fulfill your duties, and you will be prepared to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, receive the covenants and ordinances of the temple, worthily serve a full-time mission and become a righteous husband and father."
The new Duty to God program follows a pattern for each office of the Aaronic Priesthood. First, a young man will have opportunities to learn his duties, then he will make plans to fulfill those duties and, last, he will share his experience of what he has learned and done with parents and fellow quorum members and seminary classmates. The program allows young men to personalize their understanding of their duties while enlisting the support of their parents, quorum leaders and fellow members.
During their Duty to God experience, young men will learn gospel principles and make plans in four areas: Spiritual Strength, Priesthood Duties, For the Strength of Youth and Preparing to Receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.
For example, in the Spiritual Strength section for deacons, the young man is asked to choose four doctrinal topics ranging from The Godhead to Tithing. For each topic he will "learn" by creating a simple outline that might include a definition of the topic, teachings from the scriptures and personal thoughts on why this topic is important. Next, the deacon will "act" by studying his chosen topic. Finally, he will "share" what he outlines to teach others in his family and quorum about his chosen doctrinal topics.
When a young man accomplishes his plans as a deacon and teacher, he will receive certificates acknowledging his progress in the Duty to God program. Priests who accomplish their plans will receive a certificate acknowledging what they have accomplished during their years as an Aaronic Priesthood holder.
The young men will learn that the new Duty to God program is not primarily an achievement program — rather, it's about a boy chartering his own path to becoming a faithful, lifelong man of the priesthood.
President Moody believes the new Duty to God program will help the young men in his stake better utilize "Preach My Gospel" when they begin full-time missionary service. He appreciates that the program activities are non-specific, allowing young men and their parents and quorum leaders to discover and develop what's best for them. They will learn, act upon and share those essential "doctrines of the gospel."
"We are giving the young men a six-year 'MTC' experience," he said. "We are going to send out the best missionaries this Church has ever seen."