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An oft-overlooked aspect of pronouncing priesthood blessings

Millet, Bob_photo by Richard Crookston.jpg
Robert L. Millet
Photo by Richard Crookston

Name a religious topic, and Robert L. Millet has likely written about it in one of his more than 70 books. Millet, former dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, is a professor emeritus of ancient scripture. We recently asked him about his life, gospel study, and newest publication, Men of God.

What is something not many people know about you?

I flunked out of college at Louisiana State University. In my first year and a half of college, I spent too much time playing pool and ping-pong and missed one class after another. So eventually the school said, “Don’t come back next semester.” It was pretty devastating, but it served its own function; it straightened me out. I went on a mission and came back as a different person.

How would you define a successful scripture study?

I think if a person comes away feeling a quiet, restful, peaceful spirit, it is successful. When I’m really troubled and I go to the scriptures, I’m not necessarily looking to learn some new truth—I’m looking to feel the Spirit in a way that I wouldn’t get by just going about my regular business. It’s a settling of the soul.

Is there a topic you’d like to write a book on but haven’t yet?

I have a book that I began planning about 25 years ago. The title I’d like to keep for it is The Furnace of Affliction: Reflections on God, Evil, and Human Suffering. Many people leave religion over this issue: if God is all good, and if God has the power, why does He allow a holocaust, the shooting of children, etc., to happen? I think that is such a tender subject, but it’s a pertinent subject, and we need a strong treatment of it. I don’t know if I’m up to it, but it’s something I’ve thought about for a long time.

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Men of God discusses the principles of the priesthood. What are some misconceptions that people often have about the priesthood?

Some time ago, my wife and I attended a baptism, and when it was time for the confirmation, the person performing the ordinance gave wonderful counsel, directions, and suggestions—but he didn’t bless the person. Similarly, in the naming and blessing of babies, often the father doesn’t bless the child; the father prays for Heavenly Father to bless the child. And the fact is, it’s the right of a priesthood holder to seek inspiration and give the blessing rather than asking Heavenly Father to do it. I think there is some misunderstanding there.

What other truths about the priesthood do you discuss in Men of God?

Here’s one: gaining power in the priesthood is inextricably linked to maintaining the gift of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Power in the priesthood is going to be very closely connected to the extent to which we’re seeking, as President Nelson would say, the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

What does it mean to you to overcome the world and find rest in Jesus Christ?

It’s a regular thing for me to say in my prayers, “Father in Heaven, help me to think what I ought to think and feel what I ought to feel.” I have a constant prayer for the Lord to make my heart such that I care about what He cares about because when we feel and think what He feels and thinks, we come to operate on a different agenda. We reach the point where we’re focusing far more on the things of God and the things that matter—whether it’s becoming a better husband or wife, or a better student, or whatever else. We overcome the world as we yield our hearts to God and keep focused on our eternal objectives.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of LDS Living magazine. Find past issues as well as learn how to subscribe for inspiration straight to your mailbox at

Men of God: The Powerful Influence of a Righteous Priesthood Holder

From bestselling author and scholar Robert L. Millet, this book is for the beloved sons of our Heavenly Father—husbands, fathers, sons, ministers, and friends—who have chosen to commit their hearts and lives to living the gospel and following our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In today's world, it's easy for men to become distracted or confused about their divine worth, purpose, and mission. But those who have chosen to bear the holy priesthood must have a clear understanding and vision of what it means to take on the Savior's name and serve His children. In so doing, they can not only fulfill their God-given responsibilities but also find peace and confidence in walking a godly path.

This book explores specific principles and how they relate to the men in the Church, including prayer, faith, marriage, and the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Drawing on scripture, the words of the prophets, and personal experience, Millet offers guidance on how men can better act on their desires to be loving husbands and father, generous friends and neighbors, and dependable representatives our Savior—in other words, to be men of God.

Timely insights from Men of Valor, Men of Influence, and Men of Covenant with a new introduction and additional chapters from the author.

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