I hold both the priesthood of Aaron and that of Melchizedek and have been ordained to four offices. Each office comes with specific duties, which I will enumerate:
- As an elder of the Melchizedek priesthood, I have a duty to baptize, to ordain elders, to ordain priests, to ordain teachers, to ordain deacons, to administer the sacrament, to confirm those who are baptized into the church by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, to teach, to expound, to exhort, to watch over the church, to confirm the church by the laying of the hands and the giving of the Holy Ghost, and to take the lead in all meetings, conducting all meetings as I am led by the Holy Ghost. (See D&C 20: 38-45.)
- As a priest of the Aaronic priesthood, I have a duty to preach, to teach, to expound, to exhort, to baptize, to administer the sacrament, to visit the house of each member (exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties,) to ordain priests, to ordain teachers, to ordain deacons, to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present, and to assist an elder if occasion requires . (See D&C 20: 46-52.)
- As a teacher of the Aaronic priesthood, I have a duty to watch over the church always, to be with and strengthen them, to see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking, to see that all the members do their duty, to see that the church meet together often, to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest, to be assisted always in all my duties in the church by the deacons (if occasion requires,) to warn, to expound, to exhort, to teach, to invite all to come unto Christ, and to be a standing minister unto the church. (D&C 20: 53-57, 59; 84: 111.)
- As a deacon of the Aaronic priesthood, I have a duty to warn, to expound, to exhort, to teach, to invite all to come unto Christ, to watch over the church and to be a standing minister unto the church. (See D&C 20: 59; 84: 111.)
So, here are my questions: How do I (and others who hold these offices) discharge all these duties? In other words, what are the various ways that these duties can be legitimately discharged? Do I need to be directed by my priesthood leader to discharge each duty, or can I perform some of these duties (say, for example, warning, exhorting or preaching) without the okay from the one who holds the keys over these two priesthoods (the bishop, the elders quorum president and ultimately the stake president?) How does one go about discharging a duty to warn, expound, exhort and teach without offending the person or people being warned, expounded to, exhorted or taught? How do I see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking without offending people? If I see this iniquity or backbiting, etc., do I approach the person doing it or do I just report it to the priesthood key holder? What if it is the one holding the keys that is iniquitous or lying? Then what does one do? Is it my duty to personally correct him? If I do correct him personally or if I report him to the priesthood key-holder above him, will I put my membership in jeopardy and be seen by the leaders as being critical of the leadership, or will I be seen as merely discharging my duties? Should I worry about the consequences of correcting a leader and not correct him or should I just fulfill my priesthood duty and let the consequences follow? What are your thoughts on this matter?
One last question, are we (the deacons quorums, teachers quorums, priests quorums and elders quorums,) as priesthood holders of the church (or to speak more locally, of your ward,) discharging the above listed duties, or are they being neglected? I extend a special invitation to the sisters to add your two cents according to your personal observations.
Next Priesthood article: The oath and covenant of the priesthood