One of the most vital characteristics of both the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods is that they cannot be used for your own benefit; they can only be employed in the service of others. The Melchizedek priesthood, much like the law of Christ that elevated the Mosaic law, takes the recipients of its blessings beyond the basic expectations of obedience, encouraging them to live selflessly and with the purpose of improving everything around them. Missionary work is a shining example of this.

A Greater Responsibility

Specializing in authorizing teachers, administrators, and leaders to bless and strengthen the human spirit and prepare them for higher covenants, the Melchizedek priesthood is a natural requirement for formal missionary work. Obviously, it’s possible to serve without holding the Melchizedek priesthood—after all, women are increasingly encouraged to serve—but it is used to place the mantle of missionary upon those who would spread the gospel.

Elders at a zone conference. Courtesy of LDS Media Library.

It’s All About Forgetting Yourself

A common misconception among young people as they try to decide whether or not to serve missions is believing it is enough to know that they can be good, temple-worthy people without them. This is true. However, the point of the Melchizedek priesthood and the missionary work it facilitates is to think not of what we can gain from service, but to be devoted to service for its own sake because we love God and His children. Bettering yourself is an inevitable consequence of faithful service (and there is always some way that we can be better, no matter how good we are), but it’s not the reason for it. This is the first and most crucial lesson of the Melchizedek priesthood and all those who receive blessings and callings from it—and it is certainly the singular driving force behind missionary work of every kind, but especially the kind that requires the use of nametags.

Sister missionaries at work. Courtesy of the LDS Media Library.

Knowing what we risk from misunderstanding these crucial points of the gospel, it’s prudent—individually and collectively—to internalize the purpose of the Melchizedek priesthood and its vital role in missionary work. Otherwise, we must answer for allowing the growth of the kingdom of God to be stunted.

About Ashley Morales
Frequently whimsical and overly optimistic about how much time it will take to do things, Ashley Morales is deeply passionate about the gospel and all kinds of creativity. Her hobbies include philosophically analyzing nearly every book, play, video game, and movie that she consumes, writing music and short stories, promising herself that she will finish writing her novels, going to sleep too late, eating foods she's never tried, putting off cleaning her house, browsing Zillow, spending as much quality time as possible with her wonderful husband, trying to be a good mother to her fantastic children, and never finding the balance between saying too much and too little. One day, she hopes to leave a positive mark on the world and visit every continent (except Antarctica) with her family.

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