As a priesthood holder, I am always nervous when I give a blessing or perform an ordinance (such as a baptism or confirmation). While I feel that I am worthy to give a blessing or perform an ordinance, I am not perfect and make mistakes. Each time I give a blessing or perform an ordinance, I wonder, “What happens if I’m not worthy?” Is the blessing or ordinance still valid? Does the person being blessed still receive what is promised to them?
As I have pondered this question, my conclusion is that, even if the priesthood holder is not worthy, the blessing is still valid because the Lord will honor His priesthood even if the priesthood holder acting in His name is flawed. I came to the conclusion that no mortal priesthood holder is ever perfect. All priesthood holders have some level of sin or transgression in their life. If total purity was required, then no one would ever be able to receive any priesthood ordinance.
The Lord set up his priesthood to work around our shortcomings. First, each priesthood holder is taught that he needs to be worthy to give a blessing or perform an ordinance. Second, each saving ordinance is approved by a leader who is responsible for making sure all involved are worthy. Third, the person receiving the ordinance is instructed in what is required. Finally, there are typically witnesses who are responsible for making sure the ordinance is performed correctly.
The priesthood holder or the leader can raise worthiness concerns. While witnesses don’t handle worthiness issues, witnesses testify that to the best of their knowledge the ordinance or blessing was performed correctly, worthily, and with the proper authority.
Even if a priesthood holder is unworthy when they give a blessing or perform an ordinance, this does not change the testimony of the others, so the blessing or ordinance is still valid. However, the priesthood holder may have sinned and need to repent of bearing false testimony before the Lord to his worthiness.
The Book of Mormon provides an answer to this question with the story of Alma and the wicked King Noah. Noah’s wickedness and his corruption of the High Priests of his kingdom are well established in the Book of Mormon. Alma was made a High Priest and even was a part of this corrupt system until the words of the Prophet Abinadi caused him to repent. If anyone’s ordination to the priesthood would have been invalid because of wickedness it would have been the priests involved with Alma’s ordination. Yet, once Alma repented and became the leader of the church, he performed ordinances for others using the priesthood he was ordained to by the wicked priests.
The scriptures make it clear that while the Lord requires his priesthood holders to be worthy, the lack of worthiness only impacts the individual holder and not those that receive the ordinances from him.