As bearers of the priesthood, we have been placed on earth in troubled times. We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political schemes ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity and left with a feeling of failure. The sophistries of men ring in our ears, and sin surrounds us. Ours is the responsibility to be worthy of all the glorious blessings our Father in Heaven has in store for us. Wherever we go, our priesthood goes with us. Are we standing in holy places? Please, before you put yourself and your priesthood in jeopardy by venturing into places or participating in activities which are not worthy of you or of that priesthood, pause to consider the consequences. We who have been ordained to the priesthood of God can make a difference. When we maintain our personal purity and honor our priesthood, we become righteous examples for others to follow. The Apostle Paul admonished, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” He also wrote that the followers of Christ should be “as lights in the world.” Providing an example of righteousness can help to illuminate an increasingly dark world. Many of you will remember President N. Eldon Tanner, who served as a counselor to four Presidents of the Church. He provided an undeviating example of righteousness throughout his career in industry, during service in the government in Canada, and as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He gave us this inspired counsel: “Nothing will bring greater joy and success than to live according to the teachings of the gospel. Be an example; be an influence for good.” He continued: “Every one of us has been foreordained for some work as [God’s] chosen servant on whom he has seen fit to confer the priesthood and power to act in his name. Always remember that people are looking to you for leadership and you are influencing the lives of individuals either for good or for bad, which influence will be felt for generations to come.” We are strengthened by the truth that the greatest force in the world today is the power of God as it works through man. To sail safely the seas of mortality, we need the guidance of that Eternal Mariner—even the great Jehovah. We reach out, we reach up to obtain heavenly help.
President Harold B. Lee became the President of the Church on July 7, 1972, but was ordained an apostle April 10, 1941, and was undoubtedly foreordained to these responsibilities in the far, far-away past as were his predecessors. The Prophet Joseph Smith made this statement over a century ago: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was.” One of the early apostles spoke of Joseph Smith: “That authority was not conferred upon him when he first saw angels and had some of the gifts … it required the laying on of the hands of someone who had the authority of the Holy Priesthood.” In due time he received that authority under the hands of those who last held the keys upon the earth. He continues: “When Jesus … took His three disciples into the mount, He was transfigured before them, and Moses and Elias administered unto them, and at that time Peter was ordained to hold the keys of that dispensation. He held the keys in conjunction with his brethren, James and John. “They came in modern times and unitedly laid their hands upon the heads of Joseph [Smith] and Oliver [Cowdery] and ordained them to the authority that they themselves held, that of the Apostleship.” Significant to us is the fact that there has never been one minute since April 6, 1830, 142 years ago, that the Church has been without divine leadership. No deceased President has ever taken the keys and authorities into the spirit world away from the Church on the earth. The second that the spirit left the body of President Joseph Fielding Smith on July 2, President Harold B. Lee in that same second as president of the twelve apostles rightfully assumed command and was the true and recognized leader, having been foreordained as said by Joseph Smith. President George Q. Cannon speaks of the foreordination: “It is a remarkable fact that Joseph Smith had gifts before he was ordained. He was a Seer, for he translated before he was ordained; he was a Prophet, for he predicted a great many things before he was ordained … ; he was a Revelator, for God gave unto him revelations before the Church was organized. He, therefore, was a Prophet, Seer and Revelator before he was ordained in the flesh.”