The interest and concern of the Church and its priesthood holders must always be with the individual, President Gordon B. Hinckley declared at the priesthood session Saturday evening.
"Our great responsibility is to see that each is `remembered and nurtured by the good word of God' (Moro. 6:4), that each has opportunity for growth and expression and training in the work and ways of the Lord, that none lacks the necessities of life, that the needs of the poor are met, that each member shall have encouragement, training and opportunity to move forward on the road of immortality and eternal life."This, I submit, is the inspired genius of this, the Lord's work. The organization can grow and multiply in numbers as it surely will. This gospel must be carried to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. There can never be in the foreseeable future a standing still or a failure to reach out, to move forward, to build, to enlarge Zion across the world. But with all of this there must continue to be an intimate pastoral relationship of every member with a wise and caring bishop or branch president. These are the shepherds of the flock whose responsibility it is to look after the people in relatively small numbers so that none is forgotten, overlooked or neglected.
"Jesus was the true shepherd who reached out to those in distress, one at a time, bestowing an individual blessing upon them."
President Hinckley cited President Harold B. Lee's admonition to survey large fields and cultivate small ones. "He was saying that we must know the big picture and then assiduously work on the particular niche assigned each of us, and that in doing so we concentrate on the needs of the individual."
For instance, he said, President Howard W. Hunter urged greater temple activity, a work that concerns the entire human family, past and present, but it is accomplished on an individual basis.
Likewise, he noted, missionary service is a personal labor with the missionary teaching and bearing witness to the investigator, who must search and pray alone if he or she is to gain a knowledge of the truth.
"The decisions we make individually and personally, become the fabric of our lives," he remarked. "That fabric will be beautiful or ugly according to the threads of which it is woven."
To young men he warned that immoral acts of any kind will introduce an ugly thread into the fabric. "Dishonesty of any kind will create a blemish. Foul and profane language will rob the pattern of its beauty."
President Hinckley said he glories in the victorious past of the Church. "I marvel at the present when you and I stand as watchmen upon the towers. I envision the future with hope, assurance and certain faith."
He bore testimony of God and His work, of Christ and the gospel as it was restored through Joseph Smith.
"The gospel is the way of peace, of progress, of safety, of salvation and exaltation," he declared. "This, the last and final dispensation, was ushered in by the glorious appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph. You and I have received this holy priesthood through the laying on of hands by those in authority. We must live worthy of it. We must safeguard it. We must honor it. We must use it in righteousness for the blessing of others."