We should not try to dominate or control others just because we hold the Priesthood. We can persuade others to do what is right and to repent by being patient, gentle, and meek.
We are also counseled to be kind, full of knowledge, but without guile and hypocrisy (how often knowledge and hypocrisy go together!). We should be full of charity towards all. We should have virtuous thoughts all the time, not just when at church or performing priesthood ordinances.
I love the promise in these verses; if we do all those things – be pure, without guile, and full of charity – we will be able to stand before God with our heads held high. We will be confident and know that we are worthy to be in His presence. His Spirit will give us that assurance – we will be comfortable because we will have years of experience with the Holy Ghost and will be comfortable with His presence.
Pres. James E. Faust explained some of the great responsibilities that bearers of the Aaronic Prieshood have; he also answered the “now what?” question:
“1. All priesthood holders need to magnify their callings, acting in the Lord’s name to the extent their office and calling permit. We magnify our callings by following the direction of our quorum presidency, the bishop, and our quorum adviser. It means preparing, administering, and passing the sacrament as we are asked to do so. It also means performing other responsibilities of the Aaronic Priesthood, such as cleaning our Church meetinghouses, setting up chairs for stake conference and other Church meetings, and performing other duties as assigned.
2. Holders of the Aaronic, or preparatory, Priesthood are obligated to qualify for the higher priesthood and to receive training for greater responsibilities in Church service.
3. Holding the Aaronic Priesthood carries with it the obligation of being a good example, with clean thoughts and proper behavior. We acquire these attributes as we carry out our priesthood duties.
4. You will be associated in your quorum and other activities with young men who have the same standards that you have. You can strengthen each other.
5. You can study the scriptures and learn gospel principles to help you prepare for a mission.
6. You can learn to pray and recognize answers.” (Ensign, May 2006).
Aaronic Priesthood holders may feel that they are too young to become so serious about the gospel; the Lord doesn’t think so. Heavenly Father has such great love and trust in them that He gives them the Priesthood, a portion of His power.
For men in the church, there are a few momentous ordinances in life that are necessary for exaltation. Baptism and confirmation, ordination to the Aaronic Priesthood, which occurs when at age 12, ordination to the Mechizedek Priesthood, which occurs when one is at least 18, and marriage in the temple for time and all eternity. Aaronic Priestood holders may be young, but they are on their way along the path that leads to eternal life with our Father in Heaven.
What kind of people does the Lord expect Aaronic Priesthood holders to be in order to prepare for the blessings and responsibilities of the higher priesthood? Let’s look at the life of Joseph Smith for an example. He was 14 when he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ – that is the same age as the Teachers in the Church. I remember being a Deacon and thinking that the Teachers seemed old; I remember being a Teacher and marveling at what great things Joseph Smith was called to do when he was my age. Before the First Vision, Joseph spent a couple years thinking about the gospel, about the scriptures, and about which church was right. In one of his accounts of the First Vision he said that he spent time contemplating the heavens and the stars. Joseph spent a lot of time reading the Bible and attending different churches so he could figure out which one was right. He was confused so he decided to ask God in prayer. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in answer to his humble prayer.
Joseph Smith was very serious about the gospel at a young age. At the age of Deacons and Teachers today he wanted to know what was true so he read the scriptures, thought about them, and talked with his family. He followed the scriptures and prayed to know what was right. For those preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, I hope that you are as serious about the gospel as Joseph Smith was. He was young, he had fun and wrestled and played, but he took the gospel seriously.
When young men are given the Priesthood, they become different than they were before. They are given a great responsibility – a portion of God’s power. These words in the Doctrine and Covenants explain some of the personal characteristics both Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood holders need to have: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile – Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death. Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (D&C; 121:41-46).