Boyd K. Packer appeals to an incident in the life of Karl G. Maeser that the priesthood of God are "just common old sticks, but it's the position that counts"; one should follow them to be safe and will be lost if they stray from them.

Jun 1977
Speech / Court Transcript
Boyd K. Packer

Boyd K. Packer, "It Is the Position That Counts," address delivered in the priesthood session of the Dortmund, Germany, area conference on August 6, 1976, repr., New Era (June 1977), accessed November 3, 2023

New Era
Karl G. Maeser, Boyd K. Packer
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Now I have a message that I hope to have inspiration to convey to you brethren. And I would like to tell of a little incident that happened to a great member of the Church in Germany, Karl G. Maeser, a great educator, a doctor of education, a man of great dignity and wisdom. It was he who founded Brigham Young University.

Under the direction of President Brigham Young he went to Provo, with the simple instruction that he was to found the university and to teach not even the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. Beyond that, Brigham Young said, “Good luck and God bless you.” Brother Maeser had been converted here in Europe. This man of great dignity and prestige was a very humble man, and his attitude seems to me to characterize what we should be as holders of the priesthood.

I mention two incidents: On one occasion he was going with a group of young missionaries across the alps. They were crossing a high mountain pass on foot. There were long sticks stuck into the snow of the glacier to mark the path so that travelers could find their way safely across the glacier and down the mountain on the other side.

When they reached the summit, Brother Maeser wanted to teach the young elders a lesson. He stopped at the pinnacle of the mountain and pointed to those sticks that they had followed. And he said, “Brethren, behold the priesthood of God. They are just common old sticks, but it’s the position that counts. Follow them and you will surely be safe. Stray from them and you will surely be lost.” And so it is in the Church. We are called to leadership positions and given the power of the priesthood. And we are just common old sticks, but the position we are given counts. It is separate and apart from us, but while we hold it, we hold it.

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