While watching Mormon General Conferences, one of the many questions people might ask is, “Why are Mormon prophets and apostles so old?”
In the 2015 October General Conference, Elder David A. Bednar shared a story about Gordon B. Hinckley being interviewed on a national television program where the journalist remarked, “There are those who say… ‘This is a church run by old men.’” President Hinckley responded, “Isn’t it wonderful to have a man of maturity at the head, a man of judgment who isn’t blown about by every wind of doctrine?”
President Hinckley’s response contained 3 reasons why Mormon prophets and apostles are old.
Maturity—both temporal and spiritual
Mormon prophets and apostles are not exempt from trials and suffering that tests their faith and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their circumstances at times are not easy. Some of them struggled at some point, lived as a child refugee, suffered heartaches and disappointments among many other things that helped build the foundation of their faith and form their character. Many of the prophets and apostles who have passed on have suffered physical conditions that eventually caused them to depart from this world, and yet with these physical frailties they dedicated their time to serving the Lord and His children. They have developed a love for the Savior and for all the people that they serve. They have learned wisdom that comes from a realization of the things that matter most.
They have also learned to understand the language of the Holy Ghost and the patterns by which the Lord reveals instructions for His people through decades of spiritual communion with the Lord. Their experiences on this earth have tested their faith but have not shaken their testimony that the Lord lives and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church. These men have centuries of temporal and spiritual maturity combined.
These men are educated on the things that happen around the world. They meet with leaders of nations, local leaders, other faiths, communities and even in humble homes to discuss issues in society. They then report what they experienced and the issues that have been raised to them to the prophet and other apostles. They read books, research and surveys. They have a good grasp of what’s happening in the world because they have lived in many different countries and worked with various people from diverse cultural backgrounds. They are very much aware of the issues that the world is facing because they have seen it and experienced it. The policies that they decide on and their judgment on the issues that we currently face are based on information that they have collectively gathered on their travels along with the information the research department of the Church has gathered for them. Above all, they decide after much prayer and fasting. They have good judgment on moral and societal issues because they are educated and informed.
Strong gospel foundation
These men have lived through decades of doctrinal whirlwinds and opposition. They have learned through these spiritual storms to not be swayed by the philosophies of the world. Some people might say that they are older men so they cannot really satisfy the needs of the younger generation. Perhaps this would be true if they were leading the Church by themselves but they are not. The Lord is at the head of the Church and He directs these noble men. These prophets and apostles understand that the principles of the gospel cannot be altered to gratify social and political norms. They have studied the scriptures and affirmed their testimony of its truthfulness. Their faith in the Lord is anchored in eternal truths found in the gospel. The foundation of their faith is built upon the Savior Jesus Christ. They have seen and experienced the blessings of following gospel principles and the consequences of disobedience.
Suffice it to say that Mormon prophets and apostles may be old in terms of age but never too old to lead and serve the Lord and His people.