When Jesus lived in mortality, His disciples one day asked Him to teach them to pray. Although He used specific words to form His prayer, in reality what He taught them was a pattern they could follow in making their own prayer.
The first thing He taught them was to address their prayers to "Our Father, which art in heaven." Even though the Jews believed in one Supreme God, yet Jesus didn't say that we should simply address our prayers to "God." Instead, He explicitly told them they were to pray to our Father, who dwells in heaven. That is a significant distinction when we consider that, even though Jesus Himself is God, He did not say that we should pray to the Son, but rather to the Father.
Jesus elaborated on this point when He next stated, "hollowed be Thy name." The name of God was a very sacred name to the Jews. In fact, it was so sacred that no one but the High Priest of the Temple could utter it, and then, only once a year in the holiest part of the temple. Jesus likewise felt that the name of the Father was sacred and hallowed, and taught us to reverence it as well.
After addressing our Father, and showing Him the respect He is due, the very next thing Jesus said we should pray for is that the Father's kingdom should come and that the Father's "will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (see Matthew 6:9-10)
God, our Father, lives in heaven. More than that, He is a heavenly King who rules over a heavenly kingdom. By definition, a kingdom is not a democracy. It is not run by the voice of the people. Instead, a kingdom is a dictatorship, ruled over by one person - the king - who makes all decisions based upon his own desires.
But to be successful, a king must have the allegiance of the people over whom he rules, otherwise the people will eventually revolt and refuse to obey him. Because of this fact, in most cases, a king can only successfully govern his people when they are willing to live by the rules, regulations, laws, policies and procedures which the king decrees.
Our Father in heaven is not only a very wise king, but He is also an extremely compassionate and beneficent king. Therefore, all rules, regulations, laws, policies and procedures which He decrees are designed to provide His people with the greatest benefits available to them. That is why Jesus taught us to pray that God's kingdom in heaven would come here upon the earth.
But, in order for that to happen, God needs people who are willing to pledge their allegiance to Him and be obedient to His laws the same way it is obeyed in heaven. In heaven, whenever God speaks, His will is done quickly and precisely as instructed. And whenever it is done, those who obey God in heaven do it with their whole heart, mind, and soul for the purpose of glorifying and pleasing God. Furthermore, they do it with a glad heart, singing praises unto God.
Likewise, the greatest commandment we have been given is "to love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:26). The Bible also tells us that we should glorify God (Rom. 15:6; 1 Peter 4:16 ) and do those things that are pleasing unto Him (1 Thes. 4:1; Heb. 13:16). Furthermore, we should do all things unto God with a glad heart (Matt. 5:12; Philip. 2:29; 1 Peter 4:13), singing praises unto Him (Rom. 15:11; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12). Thus, we've been instructed to do the very things which the angels in heaven do.
But a kingdom requires more than an obedient people. First and foremost, a kingdom is a system of government, designed to manage all tasks performed within the kingdom. In the kingdom of God, the power of government exists only in the priesthood. As such, without holding the priesthood of God, it is impossible for someone to govern within the kingdom of God.
However, just because someone holds the priesthood doesn't mean they know how to make proper use of its power. Joseph Smith wrote, "We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion" (D&C 121:39).
The proper use of priesthood power is a fundamental and crucial part of the kingdom of God. However, it takes more than just righteous behavior to manage the affairs of the kingdom. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we define the priesthood as "God's power delegated to man." And, indeed, one of the basic principles of governing is that of "delegation." In fact, it is nearly impossible to govern without delegating authority. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to delegate.
Therefore, if we are to have the kingdom of God here on earth, it is essential that we learn how to use this power the same way it is used in heaven. Although the Lord has provided a variety of methods for teaching us the things of heaven, one way we can learn about the proper use of the priesthood is by observing the pattern by which God Himself uses it. Therefore, let's examine the scriptures and see what they can teach us regarding this matter.
The apostle John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3).
In the beginning, before the earth was created, there was a being whom John refers to as "the Word." That being was known in ancient times as Jehovah. In the beginning, Jehovah was God. But, also in the beginning, Jehovah was "with God." In other words, before the creation of the earth, God, the Son, was with God, His Father.
However, even though they were both God, they were not equal in authority. It was Jesus Himself who taught us that the Father is greater than the Son (see John 14:28). But not withstanding this fact, it was Jesus who created all things, and not the Father. But why? Since the Father is greater than the Son, would it not seem more logical for the Father to create all things rather than leaving it up to His Son to do all the work?
To answer this question, let's look at what Jesus had to say concerning His relationship with His Father.
When speaking to the Pharisees Jesus stated that "the Father hath sent me" (John 5:36). To His earthly parents Jesus told them, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). At another time He clearly stated, "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:49,50)
Jesus didn't come to earth on His own. He was sent here by the Father. Before He came to earth, the Father gave Jesus commandments of what He should both say and do. Therefore, when Jesus came to earth, He didn't speak His own words, nor did He do those things which He desired. Instead, the things which Jesus said were the things which the Father had previously spoken to Him and gave Him a commandment to say. In the same way, the things Jesus did were those things which the Father had previously commanded Him to do. As such, while Jesus was upon the earth, He went about doing His Father's business, not His own. Or put another way, Jesus did the will of God here on earth the same as it is done in heaven, thereby showing us the pattern we should follow.
In the beginning, God, the Father gave the commandment "Let there be light," but it was Jehovah, the Son, who carried out the work of bringing forth light. God, the Father commanded that the light should be divided from the darkness, and it was Jehovah who made that happen. It was God, the Father who said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters," but it was Jehovah who did the dividing. It was God, the Father who commanded, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear and call the dry land earth, and call the gathering together of the waters seas," but it was Jehovah who caused it to happen. (see Gen. 1:3-10). That is why it can be said of Jesus that "all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made."
What we find in these scriptures is that whether Jesus was creating the earth or preaching the gospel, He only did precisely and exactly what His Father told Him. Jesus neither added to nor subtracted from the commandments which He received. So faithfully did Jesus carry out His Father's words, that John was inspired to call Him "the Word" of God (see John 1:4; Rev. 13,16). As such, it can accurately be said that Jesus was the personification of the Father's word.
As fallible, mortal beings, we sometimes behave as though we know better than God. Although we don't refer to our actions in that way, there are times when we all nonetheless become convinced with the rightness of our own ideas. At times like that, we tend to disregard the council of the Lord, or the words of those whom the Lord has appointed as His spokesmen, thinking that our way of doing things is the better way. If anyone had a right to think such thoughts, it was Jesus, the Son of God. Yet, He did nothing other than what His Father had told Him, without the slightest deviation from even one word of God.
To properly use the priesthood and guard against this misuse of its power, we must always keep in mind that we are doing the Father's work, not our own. That means, in all we do for the Lord, we must constantly seek His guidance, and fulfill our assignments as exactly and precisely as he desires, neither adding to nor subtracting from His word.
This is what Jesus meant when He declared, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10). Jesus abides in the Father's love because He keeps the Father's commandments exactly as it was given to Him. If we desire to abide in the Father's love, then we too must keep the commandments of God, in the same way that Jesus did.
However, Jesus did more than merely carry out the Father's wishes. As Jesus stated on one occasion, "For I do always those things that please him," referring to God, His Father (John 8:29). It was His intention to fulfill the Father's commandments in a way that brought glory to His Father (John 12:28). That is why, at the end of each day's labor of earth's creation, the Father was well pleased with His Son's work and declared, "It is good" (Gen. 1:10,12,18,21,25).
Although it doesn't happen very frequently, there are times in the Church when people use their priesthood authority to build themselves up in the eyes of others. Whenever we perform our priesthood duties, it needs to be done in a way that brings glory to God rather that upon ourselves (see Matt. 5:16; Rom. 15:6; 1 Cor. 10:31; 3 Nephi 12:16). The priesthood was not given to bring honor or credit to us, nor was it meant as a means for us to "lord it over others." Instead, it was given for the express intent of allowing us to help God bring to pass His designs and purposes. Whenever we use the office of our priesthood callings, our primary goal should be to do it in such a way that God is well pleased by our actions.
But that still doesn't answer the question of why God commanded Jesus to perform all these labors rather than doing the work Himself. The answer is that the Father desired to share His power and authority with His Son. And, as we study the life of Christ, we find that, like His Father, Jesus also delegated, or shared His authority with others.
In John 20:21 we read, "Then said Jesus to them [His disciples] again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." When He had called His twelve disciples, known as apostles, "he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease… These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not… And as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received; freely give" (Matt. 10:1,5,7,8; see Luke 9:1-6).
A little later in His ministry, "the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, wither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them… Go your ways: behold I send you forth as lambs among wolves… And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you, and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you" (Luke 10:1,3,8,9).
After His resurrection, but before His final ascension into heaven, "the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them… And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:16,18-20).
What we learn from this is that both God, the Father and the Son, are not afraid to share Their power and authority with those inferior to Themselves. Although God could do all things by Himself, He deliberately delegates His power to others so that they too may have the opportunity to learn for themselves what He knows and thereby grow through the experiences they have.
Unfortunately, sometimes in the church, we see leaders who are reluctant to delegate their responsibilities to others. Instead, they attempt to fulfill their priesthood duties by doing all the work themselves, rather than relying on the help of others through the principle of delegation. When we are tempted to do this, we must remember that the principle of sharing our authority with others is a divine attribute. When we fail to involve people in our assignments, we rob them of the opportunity for service and for personal growth.
Although the priesthood is a governing power, its power is best used when it benefits others. The more we share our power with others through proper delegation, the more people profit from its proper use. Since God trusts others less capable than Himself to do some of His work, if we want the kingdom of God to operate on earth as it does in heaven, then we too must learn to trust others to help us fulfill our priesthood responsibilities, even if they are less capable then ourselves.
However, there is a right way and a wrong way to delegate. The second thing we learn from the above example is that when the Father sent His Son forth to accomplish certain tasks, He gave Him very specific and clear instructions of what He wanted done. Likewise, when Jesus sent others out into the world, He also gave them very specific and clear instructions of what He wanted them to do. It isn't enough to merely dump responsibility onto someone. Proper delegation involves giving clear and specific direction of what is expected. That doesn't mean we have to give detailed, step-by-step instructions. Our directions can be clear guidelines and parameters within which the person is expected to work, but even these have to be specific enough and clearly understood so that the person carrying out the task knows exactly what is required of them.
To often in the Church, people delegate responsibility without giving precise instructions of what they expect. When that happens, the results are not always what the person doing the delegating had in mind, and neither person feels good about the outcome. The priesthood, as a governing power, is designed to uplift and exalt people. When it has the opposite effect, that should be a sign that we have not used it properly.
But it isn't enough just to pass responsibility onto someone else. There is one other very important principle of delegation that is crucial to successful governing, and that is the principle of returning and reporting on one's labors. After Jesus had sent the twelve out "they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing every where [just as Jesus had commanded them]… And the apostles, when they were returned, told him [Jesus] all that they had done" (Luke 9:6,10). When Jesus had sent out the seventy other disciples, "the seventy returned again with joy, saying (i.e., reporting), Lord, even the devils are subject unto us" (Luke 10:17).
The Lord not only gives us commandments, but He also holds us accountable for the way we fulfill them. And the way He does this is by having us return and report back to Him concerning the labors we were assigned. The scriptures tell us that there will be a "day of judgment" where we will return to the presence of God, our Father and have to give an account of the deeds done in the flesh. Jesus taught, "that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment"(Matt. 12:36). The apostle Paul wrote, "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12).
When assignments are given to others, they also need to be held accountable for how well they have carried out their duties. One reason for this is that when we make assignments to others, that doesn't exempt us from the responsibility of the work. Whether we delegate our authority or not, we always remain accountable for the proper completion of the work assigned to us.
By using the principle of "return and report" it helps assure that the desired outcome is achieved by those to whom authority has been delegated. And, when necessary, it also provides the opportunity to help teach and improve the performance of those to whom responsibility has been delegated when the work has not been satisfactorily completed. Yet, even when an assignment is done well, it allows the delegator an opportunity to give praise and gratitude to him who has properly accomplished the work. Nothing inspires and lifts a person's spirit more than when they are complimented.
On the other hand, when this principle is ignored, just the opposite happens. Things don't go as expected, and people can become discouraged or frustrated. When that happens, ill feelings may develop between individuals, and, instead of being motivated to serve again, people tend to become less willing to assist the next time, which leads to ineffective work being accomplished in building up the kingdom of God.
As stated earlier, to successfully govern, a leader must have the allegiance and support of those whom they lead. And that can only happen when we learn the proper use of priesthood authority according to the pattern used in heaven.