Mac’s Message #13: Who Holds the Keys in the Aaronic Priesthood

by | Dec 1, 2014

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

One of the major tenets of the Boy Scouts of America is that each Scouting unit should be boy-led. This is in perfect harmony with the Lord’s principle for Aaronic Priesthood young men.

A famous Abbott and Costello comical skit shows how confusing it can be when you don’t know who’s on first. “My house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.” (D&C 132:18). There should be no confusion in the Lord’s Church as to who is in charge in Aaronic Priesthood quorums.

The exercise of priesthood authority in the Church is governed by those who hold priesthood keys. The bishop holds the keys over the priests quorum. The teachers and deacons quorum presidents hold keys over their respective quorums. “Keys are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to direct, control, and govern God’s priesthood on earth. Priesthood holders called to positions of presidency receive keys from those in authority over them. Priesthood holders use the priesthood only within the limits outlined by those who hold the keys.” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 2.1.1). The LDS Scouting Handbook makes it clear that quorum advisers are not to preside over meetings, but are to assist and advise those who do preside (5.3).

Please note that you, as a Young Men leader (except the bishop), have no right to preside, direct, control, or govern the affairs of the priests, teachers, or deacons quorum. You have no right to conduct or lead quorum meetings without being directed to do so by him who holds the keys. You should not usurp control or governance over the quorum. The Doctrine and Covenants explains deacons and teachers are to “invite all to come unto Christ.” (D&C 20:59). This is done under the direction of the quorum president, who holds the authorized keys. Your role in the quorum is to honor the quorum president’s priesthood keys by teaching, training, and mentoring the young man whose right and privilege it is to preside. The Scouting EDGE method of explain, demonstrate, guide, and enable is a great platform to fulfill your advisory role.

There is a reason why you are called an adviser to the Young Men. Your role can best be defined as that of a mentor to the boys. The dictionary describes a mentor as “a trusted friend, counselor, or teacher; usually a more experienced person.” A mentor advises and guides a boy, but never takes over. He shares his knowledge and insights but respects the agency of the boy to do things his own way. He gently admonishes and nurtures the young man to help him mature in his position. A righteous adult Young Men leader ensures the boy is at the forefront of all activities instead of himself.

Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Are you honoring the president of your quorum by allowing him to preside, direct, control, and govern the work of the quorum?
  • Have you taught your quorum presidency how to lead effectively during quorum and Scouting activities?
  • Are the boys being given meaningful leadership opportunities?
  • Do you advise and guide your young men in the planning of meaningful quorum and Scouting activities?
  • Are you truly mentoring the boys and letting them do it, rather than doing it for them?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?


For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the [young] men.” (D&C 128:11).


 -Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Evanston, Wyoming.