Wherever I go in this marvelous Church, I am inspired by Young Women leaders who magnify their callings and work side by side with righteous priesthood leaders to bless the young sons and daughters of Heavenly Father and their families. Working together in unity and faith, they exemplify for our youth the beauty and the blessing of the priesthood of God on earth that enables us to assist in the work of salvation.
Elder L. Tom Perry has taught, "Both in the home and in the Church, women participate in the work of the priesthood — the work that brings the blessings of the priesthood into the lives of God's children, that makes the power of godliness manifest. ... This work is best done — both in the home and in the Church — as a partnership, with women and priesthood holders working together" ("Power In the Priesthood," General Authority Training, April 5, 2013).
The priesthood is the power and authority God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God's children. "Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth" (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 2.1.1.). Everyone who holds a calling in the Church is called and set apart under the direction of someone holding priesthood keys. We are called by prophecy and by the laying on of hands by those whom God has authorized (Articles of Faith 1:5).
Young Women leaders are called to instruct, encourage and support young women and their families as they strive to live gospel principles and "grow in their testimonies of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel" (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 2010, 10).
We serve with confidence knowing that we have received delegated authority to function in our callings through priesthood keys (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 2.1.1.). Our confidence to serve grows as we exercise faith in priesthood ordinances and the covenants we have made with God.
In ward and stake councils, Young Women leaders and priesthood leaders come together to do the will of the Lord. Priesthood leaders seek input from Young Women leaders in all matters that help people "come unto Christ."
"Sisters, be prepared both mentally and spiritually to discuss the needs [of young women and their families.] Be bold. Be assertive. Feel confident about raising weighty issues and concerns. ... The priesthood leader to whom you report will be strengthened more than you can imagine if he hears what you have to say. You will in many cases view the needs and concerns of women, youth, children, and families with greater empathy and insight than will your priesthood leaders. Prayerfully identify concerns and suggest solutions. Then, with other leaders, be willing to follow and support the counsel of those who hold the priesthood keys. ... Everyone prospers, at all levels of Church government, by following and supporting those who hold the keys" (M. Russell Ballard, "Counseling with Our Councils," 1997, pp. 94-95).
Recently, I witnessed the beauty of Young Women leaders and priesthood leaders working together to bring the blessings of the priesthood into the lives of magnificent youth and their families. The youth conference had been planned under the direction of the stake president. Nine months earlier, members of the stake youth council expressed concerns regarding the spiritual and temporal health and stability of their homes and families. Stake priesthood leaders and stake Young Women leaders guided the youth as they counseled together about solutions and recommended activities that would strengthen the youth and their families.
Together, they decided to focus on the temple. They heeded the First Presidency direction encouraging youth to use family names or names of ancestors of ward and stake members for temple work. The youth council set a goal to gather 3,300 names for temple ordinances. Under the direction of bishops, youth leaders counseled with ward priesthood and Young Women leaders. They planned activities that would help everyone catch the spirit of family history work. They learned indexing. They visited the family history center. They enlisted the help of their families and ward members. Ultimately, the youth of the stake researched and gathered more than 3,400 names.
Engaged in the work of salvation, the youth and their families were blessed. The youth were radiant with confidence, purity and the Spirit of the Lord. Each one was worthy of a temple recommend and had a greater determination to stand in holy places. They stood together in faith and in unity.
These youth witnessed adult leaders working together under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys and they had learned to do the same. We can help our youth begin to understand the beauty and blessing of the priesthood as they participate together in the work of salvation.