The young men of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to develop many skills and attributes to help them in their spiritual and physical development. They are taught high standards to maintain integrity and virtue, but are shown that true joy comes from following God’s commandments and through developing eternal relationships.
At the age of twelve, a worthy boy receives the Aaronic Priesthood. The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. There are two different priesthoods: the Aaronic, which is the lesser, and the Melchizedek, which is the higher and encompasses the Aaronic. The Aaronic Priesthood has four different offices within it, but only three of these are held by young men. They are, in ascending order, deacon, teacher, and priest.
Different offices have different responsibilities, but when a young man is ordained to a higher office, he still holds the power and authority of all the offices beneath it.
Deacons ( ages 12 and 13) pass the Sacrament (holy bread and water that represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ) and collect fast offerings, among other things. They are supposed to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:59).
Teachers (ages 14 and 15) prepare the Sacrament and watch over the church. They’re supposed to, in love, discourage such things as backbiting or evil speaking. They can also be home teachers, which entails visiting members in their homes, sharing a gospel message with them, and being a strenght to them however they can.
Priests (ages 16 and 17) can bless the Sacrament as well as baptize new members into the Church, with approval of the bishop. They can also ordain new deacons, teachers, and priests under the proper authority.
Young Mormon men are encouraged to participate in the Boy Scouts of America program, which helps strengthen them physically. There is Church-sponsored program in addition to Scouting which all the young men are encouraged to participate in called the Duty to God program. This program is meant to promote spiritual and physical development, as well as other important development opportunities such as education, good citizenship, and social skills.
Requirements are divided into three sections so that by the time a young man graduates from the Young Men program, he can have received three Duty to God certificates. For example, he has different tasks as a deacon than a teacher.
There are four main categories encompassed in the program in which the qualifying young man needs to complete eight or more tasks:
Spiritual Development—This could include such things as preparing and teaching lessons on Mormon doctrine for Sunday school or reading and responding to scripture.
Physical Development—Keeping oneself healthy and strong is also important. Some of the tasks here involve things like running a specified distance within a certain amount of time, teaching or learning a sport, or learning life-saving skills.
Educational, Personal, and Career Development—Young men are encouraged to continue learning in many different areas and to explore their interests. They are encouraged to try and turn interests into jobs. Tasks in this section involve things like reading, concentrating on improving certain school-based skills, or seeking out what field one might like to work in one day.
Citizenship and Social Development—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes we are each part of a country and that we interact with other people. Young men are encouraged to develop the skills to contribute to their communities and countries. Tasks in this area might deal with how to make oneself presentable, how to serve others, and the importance of attending city council meetings.