The Wisdom of the Aged

We may cherish physical strength, but the Lord knows what strengths his leaders need.

But old age has its strengths.

photo by lotte meijer

Seeing President Thomas S. Monson be able to give only a couple of short talks at general conference is saddening. His physical abilities are declining, and the weaknesses of old age are apparent. But old age has its strengths—strengths that are so great that we should echo President Gordon B. Hinckley‘s declaration about having older leaders guide the Church: “What a blessing!”

As President Hinckley points out in “The Divine Genius of the Lord’s Church,” there’s an old proverb that says, “Youth for action. Age for wisdom.” When we consider how action and wisdom relate to each other, the thought comes to mind that wisdom should guide one’s actions. Of course, aging does not guarantee wisdom, nor does youthfulness guarantee action. But the president of the Church and the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have gained wisdom during their lives; they have treasured up the words of life over many years. As such, they can preach the word in a way that has “a great tendency to lead the people to do that which [is] just” (Alma 31:5).

But wisdom is not all that our leaders have gained from their thousands of rotations around the earth’s axis. President Hinckley mentions several other strengths the presidents of the Church have developed, which can also be seen among all of the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: their “faith has matured,” they have been “tried and tested,” and their “nearness to God has been cultivated.” The Lord knows whom to call as prophets, seers, and revelators—and we should follow them.

Read President Gordon B. Hinckley’s full article, “The Divine Genius of the Lord’s Church.”

Source: Ensign and Liahona

 —Austin Tracy, Mormon Insights

feature image by chris robbins

Find more insights

See Elder David A. Bednar’s comments on this topic in “Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name.” When Elder Bednar gave this talk, he was the youngest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with the exception of two of the three new apostles that had just been sustained.

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  1. I remember watching the 60 minutes interview with President Hinckley. The interviewer pressed him on this issue, and he laughed it away and answered much the same as what’s written above. I loved this response. I love and respect these leaders. Their time on this earth has made them wise because time has given them perspective. They know what is of true importance and what can be left for another day. I’m grateful for their grounded, centering guidance.

  2. I love learning from the general authorities of the church for many reasons, but one in particular is that I am blown away by their experience, wisdom, and life lessons. I definitely agree that we are fortunate to learn at the feet of apostles and prophets who have spent full lifetimes in the service of God.

  3. My husband and I have been reading some of his grandpa’s spiritual experiences that he has recorded, and we have learned a lot. Grandpa Kenneth always put the Lord’s work before his own and spent many 14-hour days working in the temple for many years in Texas. We have a lot to learn from the examples of the older generation!

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