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Aaronic Priesthood commemoration: Service teaches young men to think about other people

Holding the Aaronic Priesthood brings with it a responsibility for service that teaches young men to think about others.

That's the opinion of Jackson Tukuafu, a priest in the Cannon 2nd Ward, Salt Lake Tongan Stake.

"I think that serving others is what [administering] the sacrament is all about," he said. "The congregation is there for a purpose, and that is to partake of the sacrament. And you have the responsibility to [bless the sacrament]."

Jackson, who also helps clean the ward meetinghouse on a weekly basis, said that while it might be hard for deacons to understand, "as you get older, you realize that you are not doing the sacrament only for yourself, but for all the congregation."

He described holding the Aaronic Priesthood as "a great privilege. When you read about the prophets and read about the priesthood they hold, you realize you have some of the same power. It is a great opportunity and privilege to have."

Jackson is one of more than 300,000 young Aaronic Priesthood holders in the Church. That total includes 88,000 priests, 94,000 teachers and 119,000 deacons in some 160 nations of the world.

This month, quorums throughout the world are commemorating the 171st anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood with activities and meetings. But the event is also quietly observed all year as young men exercise this priesthood authority for the purpose for which it was intended — to bless others.

The priesthood progress of this great body of youth is of great importance to Church leaders, who regularly address Aaronic Priesthood holders at general priesthood meetings.

President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, encouraged young men to use their Aaronic Priesthood experiences to prepare for the future.

"Preparation for life's opportunities and responsibilities has never been more vital," he said in April 1996 general conference. "We live in a changing society. Intense competition is a part of life. The role of husband, father, grandfather, provider, and protector is vastly different from what it was a generation ago. Preparation is not a matter of perhaps or maybe. It is a mandate. The old phrase 'Ignorance is bliss' is forever gone. Preparation precedes performance."

He said, "Some of you may be shy by nature or consider yourselves inadequate to respond affirmatively to a calling. Remember that this work is not yours and mine alone. It is the Lord's work, and when we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to the Lord's help. Remember that whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies. . . .

"You are preparing to become missionaries. Begin now to learn in your youth the joy of service in the cause of the Master."

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve also encouraged young men to become involved in service.

"One should be grateful for the great privilege and blessing you have of bearing the Aaronic Priesthood," he said, speaking in October 1989 general conference. "Be faithful in your priesthood duties; they will help you prepare for greater service. I urge you teachers and priests to be faithful home teachers, which is a lifetime calling for all of us. . . . Always be willing, even anxious, to help others. Nothing else you do will give you the same genuine satisfaction and joy within because, and I quote, 'when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God' (Mosiah 2:17). Ignoring the needs of others is a serious sin.

"Our Heavenly Father knows the way for you to enjoy happiness and peace; the principles of the gospel mark the way. They are a gift to you, His children. On the other hand, Satan will try, at every step of the way, to lead you off course. His objective is to make you unhappy and miserable like he is (see 2 Nephi 2:27). Vast sums of money are spent each year to package and disguise sin and evil to make them appear enticing, attractive, even harmless. However, regardless of appearances, 'wickedness never was happiness' (Alma 41:10) and never will be."