26 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people.
(2 Nephi 5:26)
18 For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi.
A priest is a person who brings other people closer to God by leading them in worship and by performing sacred ceremonies on their behalf (see “Priests,” Bible Dictionary).
A teacher is a person who imparts knowledge. I think it’s significant that the Old English word for “teach”—tæcan—also means “to show,” “declare,” demonstrate,” and even “warn” or “persuade.” An effective teacher is not a dispassionate dispenser of information but rather a person who cares about his or her students and wants to help them be successful.
Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi was promised that, if he obeyed the commandments, he would be “a ruler and a teacher” over his brothers (1 Nephi 2:22). After arriving in the promised land and separating from his antagonistic older brothers, Nephi established a city and organized his people so that they could live “after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). As part of that organization, he consecrated his younger brothers, Jacob and Joseph, as “priests and teachers” over his people. Throughout the rest of the Book of Mormon, spiritual leaders are frequently referred to as “priests and teachers.”
In our most recent general conference, President Russell M. Nelson emphasized the importance of worship and spiritual learning within our families:
As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of “church” as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home. We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.
(“Opening Remarks,” General Conference, October 2018).
Today, I’m thinking about my role as a spiritual leader in my home. I am acting as a priest when I baptize and bless my children, and also when I lead them in family prayer. I am acting as a teacher when I share insights from my study of the scriptures and answer their questions, but also when I encourage them to make wise decisions, warn them of the consequences of sin, and testify of things I know to be true.
Today, I will remember my responsibility to guide my own children on their spiritual journey back to our Heavenly Father. I will strive to be an effective priest, presiding over uplifting spiritual experiences and sacred ordinances in our home. I will also strive to be an effective teacher, encouraging and motivating our children to act in accordance with true principles.