Beyond The Checklist

12_ Understanding Priesthood Power Through Personal Revelation


Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. If you’re a woman who is ready and willing to be a follower of Jesus, you’re in the right place. Join me as we dive in deep to learn how to embrace your journey on the covenant path with checkpoints instead of checklists, I’m your host, Darla Trendler, and I’m cheering you on.

Welcome to your journey.

Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. This is Darla. I’m so happy you’re here. I have got a solo episode for you. And today we’re going to be talking about understanding priesthood power through personal revelation. So, let me give you the backstory on this. If you’re new here, you may not know this, but in 2020, my word of the year was power. And you can go back to one of my previous episodes from January 8th of 2020, it was called Why I am Focusing on Power in 2020. And that’s where I talked about why I chose this word. I didn’t really choose it. It chose me, but basically it came from attending the temple with my daughter who was receiving her endowment in the temple in May of 2019.

And after that experience, I couldn’t get the phrase “endowed with power from on high,” out of my mind. And over the rest of 2019, I felt the spirit prompting me to focus on this word and learn what it means to me.  Endowed with power from on high. What did that mean? So, to start my year learning about power in early 2020, I read the entire Book of Mormon with a sole focus on the word power.

And I learned so much from the people of the Book of Mormon about how to access Christ’s power in my life. Because when you look for it, it is everywhere in the Book of Mormon. Let me tell you. So today I’m really not going to talk about the things I learned from that very focused reading of the Book of Mormon because I wrote all about it, that experience, in a chapter that I was able to write for the book You are Distinct & Different.

So, this book is a compilation of 11 different women who each wrote a chapter about being distinct and different in the latter days and what that means to them. So, you can read my thoughts about power and what I learned in my deep dive Book of Mormon study in the book You are Distinct & Different. You can find a link to purchase the book in the show notes in my profile on Instagram or on my website.

And I am so excited to share with you through that chapter, the things I learned about power in the Book of Mormon, and I also know that you are going to love what the other women who have contributed to the book have to share. So, go and check that out. If you’re wanting to study more about power, you will really, I think, enjoy that chapter. So, check out the book.

 Let me share with you some of the other things I’ve learned about power. First, let’s go back to what I talked about in my previous episode, I just mentioned, the one from January 2020, about why I focused on the word power in the first place.

As I mentioned, it started when I attended the temple with my daughter. She was taking out her endowment to go on a mission in May of 2019. But all of my thoughts and feelings about power really started to solidify when I went back and studied President Nelson’s talk that came out later that year called Spiritual Treasures from October 2019 general conference.

We all know that talk. It was a landmark talk by President Nelson. Studying this talk several times at the end of 2019 is what kind of cemented my desire to study power. So, in Spiritual Treasures, President Nelson mentions the word power 23 times. I know because I counted. And at the end of the talk, President Nelson said this, “I would like to leave a priesthood blessing upon you.” 

So, this talk was given in the women’s session, if you don’t remember. And he was specifically talking to women of the church and in my heart, when I heard that talk for the first time, I felt like he was specifically talking to me.

The blessing that he left was this, “That you may understand the priesthood power with which you have been endowed, and that you will augment that power by exercising your faith in the Lord and in his power.” I wrote in the margins of this talk that I wanted President Nelson’s blessing to be fulfilled in my life. As I look back on what I’ve learned since, I think it’s really interesting that in a year I was focusing on power and that, that thought to even focus on power started in the temple, and I really wanted to know how the temple endows me with this power, I wasn’t even able to attend the temple for most of the year because of the pandemic. But ironically, not being able to attend the temple caused me to ponder more deeply on the covenants I had already made in the temple. This is something that I’ve thought so much about.

And you’re probably going to hear me reference this multiple times this season, but prior to 2020, whenever I started to feel bogged down or had a serious question or just needed to feel peace, I would go to the temple to find that. I definitely still experienced overwhelm and questions and lack of peace in 2020, but without being able to be physically present in the temple, I learned that it wasn’t just being in the temple that gave me the power. The real power came from the covenants I had made, and I didn’t have to be in the temple to access that power. Now I am not saying that I will never go to the temple again because I am very much looking forward to that.

And I want to do work for my ancestors, but having the temple closed has taught me in a way I never could have learned otherwise that the covenants I have made are what bring the real power in my life. In his talk, called Enduring Power in October 2020 general conference, Elder Kelly R. Johnson reminded us of the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple that says, “That thy servants may go forth armed with thy power.”

Elder Johnson continued, “There is no expiration date associated with the power God bestows upon those who make and keep temple covenants. Nor is there a restriction from accessing that power during a pandemic. His power diminishes in our lives only if we fail to keep our covenants and do not live in a way that allows us to continually qualify to receive his power.”

In the Spiritual Treasures talk, President Nelson said that a woman does not have to have someone in her home who holds the priesthood to have access to priesthood power. Hallelujah. That’s great. It’s something that we all need to know and understand, both men and women alike. That access to the priesthood power comes from covenants made in the temple.

President Nelson said, “From those covenants flows an endowment of His priesthood power upon you.” I don’t know about you, but I really related with President Joy D. Jones when she shared in her April 2020 general conference talk that she didn’t understand earlier in her life that her covenants are what gave her access to the power of the priesthood. I didn’t realize that either. But one of the things 2020 taught me was my covenants gave me power all the time. Not just when I was in the walls of the temple. If you’ve made covenants in the temple, you have that same access. You have access to power through your covenants, anytime and anywhere. 

Elder Richard G. Scott defined the power of God as “power to do more than we can do ourselves.” I can definitely see how I have been able to accomplish things I couldn’t do on my own when I have tapped into the power of God. 

In 2020, I chose to do a whole season of solo episodes on the podcast, and they were all about embracing your journey on the covenant path with checkpoints instead of checklists. 

If you want to go back, you can listen they’re episodes one through 10, starting in season four of the podcast. I would love for you to go back and listen to those. But part of this desire to do those solo episodes and to start off this rebrand of Spiritually Minded Women came from President Nelson’s Spiritual Treasures talk.

He said in the talk, “We need your voice teaching the doctrine of Christ.” I prayed about how I could teach the doctrine of Christ. And that is when ideas to talk about journeying on the covenant path started to form.  2 Nephi 31, which is the chapter that I based a lot of my thoughts about the covenant path on, is all about the doctrine of Christ– faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

I felt a huge push from the spirit to share these things. But let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. Over the summer of 2020, I researched and studied and wrote out the 10 episodes you can now hear in that season four, like I just mentioned, about embracing your journey on the covenant path with checkpoints instead of checklists, but it didn’t just all come out of my brain and onto the page and then into the microphone. It was a lot of work. I learned that if I wanted to access the power of God in my life, it would require a lot of me. He wouldn’t just give it to me. I was reminded of this recently when I was studying Doctrine and Covenants 9, where Oliver Cowdery wants the power to translate.

The Lord told Oliver in verse seven, “Behold, ye have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when ye took no thought save it was to ask me.” I learned that even though I was following a prompting and wanting to do something good and follow the prophet, like share about the doctrine of Christ on my podcast, it was still going to be work.

And many times, I would get three-fourths of the way done with writing out an episode and thinking about what I wanted to share. And then I would get completely stuck. Nothing would come and it wouldn’t feel right. And I would question where to go next. In fact, I can tell you that happened with writing this episode that you’re listening to right now.

I guess that’s what happens to me when I’m writing these episodes? So ,in every case, what I would do is continue to study and pray, put in effort. And every time, in the exact moment I needed it, the words would come, and I would record them. 

This happened to me over and over, and it never came easily. But now when I look back on the experience I had putting that season of the podcast together, I see that Elder Scott’s definition of power is true. Power is being able to do more than we could do ourselves. I didn’t realize it in the moment that this was one of the ways Heavenly Father taught me about power in 2020.

Now the title of this episode is about priesthood power and the connection of personal revelation. And I also studied a lot about priesthood power in 2020 and continuing into 2021. And I really wanted to know the part that I play as a woman with priesthood power. What does all that mean?

As part of my study of priesthood power, I listened to Barbara Morgan Gardner’s book, The Priesthood Power of Women. Barbara is a religion professor at BYU, and I highly recommend reading and studying her book. She also wrote an article that was published in the Ensign called Connecting Daughters of God with His Priesthood Power, and I will link that up in the show notes for this episode so you can go and read it. A lot of what I’m referencing comes from that article. But Professor Gardner points out in the article that as women, gaining the ability to study and learn about the priesthood is critical. So, in studying The Priesthood Power of Women book, as well as scriptures and conference talks and so many other things, I learned so much about four things related to priesthood, keys, offices, authority, and power. Now I have not felt guided to talk about those things in this episode in depth, but I will put links in the show notes to the resources I have used to help me understand these things and how they relate to me as a woman.

One of the things that I have learned over the past year and a half of studying about priesthood power and what I want to share with you today is that it is about more than just gaining knowledge. My focus has been to discover what priesthood power truly means to me, individually and uniquely. I want to help you be able to do this as well.

So, the remainder of this episode I’m focusing on four things Professor Gardner shared that you can do personally as you study and learn about the priesthood. 

Okay. So, the first thing is that you can go to the scriptures. Sister Gardner gives a pretty big list of scriptures to look up and you can find her recommendations in the article and also in her book.

In the Spiritual Treasures talk, President Nelson gave us three sections of the Doctrine & Covenants to study and those included Doctrine and Covenants 25, 84 and 107. He said that those would be a place to begin. He said that these scriptures would lead us to other passages that would help us in our study.

So that’s the first one to study the scriptures. Number two, Professor Gardner talked about two things that you can do, and they go hand in hand. So, this is number two and three. And that is to go to the temple and then also to ask questions. 

I thought it was interesting that she pointed out that it’s not just about going to the temple to ask questions. It’s also about seeking for the questions to ask. After I read this, I wrote down, “What questions do I need to ask?” This reminded me of something Sister Kate Holbrook said in the 2020 women’s conference at BYU. In her address, she said, “He needs us to follow through on answers to the questions he is waiting for us to ask. 

In this time when I have not been able to attend the temple, I have still prayed for revelation to know what questions I should ask. I have sought for spiritual experiences I previously thought were only available in the temple. 

If you’ve signed up for my free email course, Five Ways to Reimagine Prayer, you’ve heard me talk about my method of using a prayer journal in the first video of that series. And if you haven’t signed up, I’ll put a link in the show notes. You can also find it in the link in my profile on Instagram and also on my website. But basically, what I shared in that video in that series is when I started my prayer journal, I was spending time at the beginning of each week, listing things I was grateful for on one side of the page. And then on the other page opposite, I was listing things I needed help with. So, each day as I prayed, I would read what I had written out to help me focus on my prayers. However, after doing this practice for several months, I realized something was missing.

I noticed that one of the ways the spirit communicated with me was by bringing questions to my mind. So, I decided to start recording those questions in my prayer journal. So now I write the things I need help with, but I also record the questions I feel the spirit prompting me to ask. At the end of the week, I review and write how I have seen answers to those questions.

I recently took the time to go back over the questions I have written in my prayer journal in the past year to see if I had seen more answers. And I definitely had. Many of my questions I have written in my prayer journal have been about priesthood power. These answers are deeply personal to me and I treasure them and the answers I’ve received. I don’t seek to share them with others, but I will give you an example of one answer I saw. 

One question I wrote out came from studying President Nelson’s Spiritual Treasures talk. In that talk, President Nelson said, “We need your input in family, ward, and stake councils. Your participation is essential and never ornamental.” And I just want to add, as a side note, he put an exclamation point at the end of that sentence. So, I love that. This is something that he really wanted to emphasize to us. So, the statement brought up a question for me because I’m a member of the stake council in my stake, and I wrote the question down next in the paragraph next to where he said that. “But why is it only a few times per year?” That was my question. At the time, stake council was only held quarterly. So, if women’s voices were essential and never ornamental as President Nelson said, why weren’t we being given more opportunities to speak and share?

This was my question. So, I felt prompted to write this question down. And I followed that prompting, but I didn’t get an immediate answer. However, just a few months ago, the church handbook was changed, and stake council is now held on a monthly basis. So, for the last few months, I have attended stake council every month. And I have seen the answer to this question. I can see and feel that I and the other women I attend stake council with are essential and we are active participants in this council. 

So not only was my question answered, but for me, this experience also showed me that things are changing. The prophet is asking us to learn more because we will be called upon to participate and do more.

I am hopeful that this is not the last change we will see. In addition to studying the scriptures, attending the temple and asking questions, Barbara Morgan Gardner also shared how essential personal revelation is to understand priesthood power as women. We can’t learn everything we need to know just by reading the scriptures and just walking into the temple will not increase our knowledge of priesthood power.

We also need personal revelation. I have pondered on the fact that President Nelson has asked us to learn all we can about priesthood power and at the same time, he has also asked us to learn how we each personally hear him. I don’t think that is a coincidence. In order to understand priesthood power, we have to be able to hear him. 

As Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “This doctrine of the priesthood unknown in the world and, but little known even in the church, cannot be learned out of the scriptures alone. The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation. It comes line upon line and precept upon precept by the power of the Holy Ghost, through those who love and serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength.”

A few months ago, my stake was part of a regional training with an apostle, a woman organization leader, and other church leaders from Salt Lake. And before the leadership training, we were asked to submit questions that the general leaders would answer during the meeting. I felt a very distinct and strong impression to ask a question related to women and the priesthood.

My question was not read or even addressed during the meeting. And I had put a lot of thought into this question and had felt a very powerful and distinct prompting to submit it. So, I naturally left the meeting wondering why it hadn’t been answered, but what I have learned in the months since that question wasn’t answered by an apostle is that I can have personal answers about what priesthood power means to me individually.

I didn’t need an apostle to answer my question. In his Spiritual Treasures talk in October 2019, again, talked about this a lot, President Nelson specifically told you and I as women that “The Holy Ghost will be your personal tutor.” He went on to say that, “Seeking to understand God’s priesthood power in our life would be exciting.”

That was his word. He admonished us to, “Study prayerfully what the Lord told Emma Smith in D&C 25. He said it applies to us as well and to discover what the Holy Ghost will teach you.” Now, the word “you” was in italics in his talk. And I used a wide margin version of conference talks to study this talk.

And in my notes, I circled the word “you” and I wrote in the margin, “It’s not the same for everyone.” The Holy Ghost can teach you what you need to know about priesthood power in your life. To me, this is one more evidence of something I always think about, God is a personal God. He will help me know exactly what I need to know. And he will do the same for you. 

In an interview with The Church News, President Jean Bingham, who is the general Relief Society president, shared her thoughts on this by saying, “One of the beautiful things about President Nelson’s invitation is that he encourages us to learn to receive revelation individually because what the Holy Ghost will teach me, may be a little different than it is for you.”

And then she went on to say, “Women have much in common, but we also have unique circumstances. So, we invite the women of the church to follow the counsel of the prophet and really study about what the priesthood means to them.” 

My whole focus of this podcast is to help you embrace your own unique journey on the covenant path.

Why? Because God is a personal God.

He will guide you individually. What he counsels you to do may be different from what He tells someone else. This is the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fit in a mold and be like everyone else. As we journey with checkpoints, which are covenants, instead of checklists, we can truly feel seen and heard as a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents.

The same principle is true for your understanding of priesthood power. You can know in a very individual way, what your Heavenly Parents want you to know about priesthood power. I have continued to ponder my question. I have written out questions I have felt inspired to ask the Lord related to the question I sent to an apostle as part of a leadership training.

And I have felt peace that my question wasn’t answered, and I realized that I can seek for personal revelation to know the answers I seek about priesthood power. I don’t need an apostle to answer my question for me. All of my questions haven’t been answered yet, but as I have written questions and recorded thoughts and impressions that have come as I’ve prayed, pondered and reviewed my questions, I have received specific guidance regarding things I need to know.

Through personal revelation, I know the things that I can do in my own home and in my own calling that relate to the question I asked in the leadership training. I have felt peace knowing that God hears me, and my questions are important. I know what Professor Gardner has shared about not only asking questions but seeking personal revelation about the questions I need to ask is important because I have experienced it in my own life.

If you’re looking for a place to start or continue your study of priesthood power, here are the four things again–study the scriptures, attend the temple, ask inspired questions and seek for personal revelation. 

At the organization of the Relief Society, Emma Smith said, “We are going to do something extraordinary. … We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls. Here are some of the calls we have recently received from the prophet.

 President Nelson in October 2015: “So, today I plead with my sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward. Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community and in the kingdom of God, more than you ever have before.”

And then in April of 2018, he said, “I fear that too many of our brothers and sisters do not grasp the privileges that could be theirs.” 

And then October 2019, President Nelson said, “How I yearn for you to understand that the restoration of the priesthood is just as relevant to you as a woman, as it is to any man.” 

Not only our prophet, but also our current Relief Society general president, President Jean Bingham, said in April 2020, “Seeing women as vital participants is not about creating parody, but about understanding doctrinal truth. Rather than establishing a program to bring that about, we can actively work to value women as God does as essential partners in the work of salvation and exaltation. Are we ready? Will we strive to overcome cultural bias and instead embrace divine patterns and practices based on foundational doctrine?” 

I believe as President Bingham stated, one of our pressing calls is to break down cultural biases. 

There is much that men who are ordained to the priesthood can do to help break down cultural biases, but there are also things we, as women can do to. 

For example, I myself have said in the past, and I have heard other women say as well that they don’t want to hold the priesthood because they don’t want the responsibility.

We are not ordained to the priesthood, but we still have responsibilities. We don’t hold priesthood keys, but we do act with priesthood authority in our callings. We are using priesthood power in our lives far more often than we realize. Our voices are needed. We can’t shrink. We have to understand that and then we have to act. 

As President Nelson said in Spiritual Treasures talk, “Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help your family and others you love.” And a former general young women president, President Bonnie Oscarson has said, “Women of the church need to see themselves as essential participants in the priesthood directed work of salvation and not just as onlookers and supporters.”

As always, I want you to do more than just listen to this episode and think that was nice. I want to help you act on what the spirit is teaching you. So, this season at the end of solo episodes, I will also be giving you some journal questions to ask yourself. If you’re driving or doing something else while you’re listening, no problem. You can find the journal questions in the show notes later. 

But today’s questions come from a Church News article where the general Relief Society presidency was interviewed about priesthood power and women. One of the things Sister Eubank mentioned in that interview was that she has moved on from the question of whether or not she has priesthood power. She’s just moved on from that. She said she has shifted to better questions. I will link the article in the show notes, but here are some of the questions members of the Relief Society presidency said that they have personally asked. Take some time to think about your thoughts and especially to write your answers when you can.

What does priesthood power mean to me as a woman?

How am I drawing upon this power in ways I didn’t realize before?

What am I doing with my endowment of priesthood power?

How does my priesthood power affect my calling?

What does my priesthood power mean for my most important relationships?

How might I use my priesthood power to help someone else?

I hope that something you heard today in this episode has helped you in your own journey to understand priesthood power. Most importantly, I hope that listening has helped you to know through the spirit and personal revelation what you need to know today. I’m praying for you as a listener of this podcast, and I’m always cheering you on in your journey.

I hope you enjoyed the podcast. And if you did, please share it with a friend. I would love it if you would leave a review and rate it on Apple podcasts. This actually helps more women find the podcast and embrace their own journey on the covenant path to find more ways to be a part of the Spiritually Minded Women community, head over to spirituallymindedwomen[dot]com. For more inspiration, follow along on Instagram @spirituallymindedwomen. Have an amazing day.

I’m cheering you on in your journey.