Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

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SilentDawning
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Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by SilentDawning » 05 Oct 2015, 05:59

I was interested in this talk, so I watched it a couple times. Here are Elder Bednar's points.

1. Older leaders are chosen given the depth and breadth of their experience.
2. Even ill health has its advantages. He quoted Elder Hales who said that being in ill-health makes you do only those things that are important.
3. The talk summary from LDS. org is below, but these are the key points I got from the message.

I had a bit of trouble with this one. Point #1 is a good one. I understand there are certain parts of the brain that actually get better with age, based on a documentary I watched about aging. With an international organization to lead, and thousands of members and a massive amount of assets at stake, it makes sense that you would bring on men with experience. I am not convinced that only aged men have those skills, but it wouldn't surprise me if there is a correlation between age and experience/ability on complex matters.

For number 2, I found this one very hard to take. For these reasons:

a) I don't see it as fair and kind to these men who are often serving as Apostles for life, while battling cancer or even dementia. Even Thomas S. Monson looked like he was going to keel over during his talk on sunday afternoon, seems to slur his speech, and even started stammering/repeating inconsequential phrases at the end of his talk. I felt for him.

I sure hope there is a by-law/rule in place that specifies when a leader can no longer serve due to ill health and incapacity. To me, it seems better to release people and get other capable people in place that can do the job without such agony. I'm glad they made Seventy's serve for 5 years only and not for life a few years ago.

b) I don't think it's fair to the members worldwide to have men who "only do what is important". There are layers of importance, and often, it's something that is not important to a leader that means mountains to the membership. I would much rather have someone who can do what is most important, and also, what is second-most important, and third-most important.

c) When leaders are not well, certain requests never make it to them because people don't want to place demands on someone who has a terminal illness or very bad health.

Overall, I thought this was a weak talk.

What are your thoughts on this one?


Here is the LDS.org Talk Summary
My purpose is to explain why indeed it is wonderful to have older men of great spiritual maturity and judgment serving in the senior leadership positions of the restored Church of Jesus Christ—and why we should “hear” and “hearken” (Mosiah 2:9) to the teachings of these men whom the Lord has “chosen to bear testimony of [His] name … among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” (D&C 112:1). …

… These men have had a sustained season of tutoring by the Lord, whom they represent, serve, and love. They have learned to understand the divine language of the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s patterns for receiving revelation. These ordinary men have undergone a most extraordinary developmental process that has sharpened their vision, informed their insight, engendered love for people from all nations and circumstances, and affirmed the reality of the Restoration. …

“Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). May we hear and heed the eternal truths taught by the Lord’s authorized representatives. As we do so, I promise our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will be fortified, and we will receive spiritual guidance and protection for our specific circumstances and needs.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

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nibbler
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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by nibbler » 05 Oct 2015, 06:33

I commented in the general thread so most of my comments will be a repeat.

1) Age doesn't automatically give one wisdom or experience. It can and often does but it is not a given. That said, we aren't talking about looking for the oldest member of the church to staff these positions. I'm sure the men that are appointed as apostles are vetted in other areas besides age. Hopefully we are picking the ones where age did bring wisdom.

2) Declining health can have it's advantages. I guess but only up to a point. What are the advantages of declining health? I'd put learning humility at the top of the list. We're no longer invincible. We have to rely on other people to do things that we used to be able to do for ourselves.

Outside learning to be more humble I'm not sure how declining health contributes specifically towards leadership skills. I'm open to ideas.

Once health declines past a certain point we aren't doing anyone any good. We could have an apostle that "visits the circus" every night, clutches to a teleprompter to make sure no one runs off with it, and swats his cane at the "police" hiding just behind the rostrum. If Monson has dementia I've got to say that he's managing it remarkably well. Maybe he's been doing this so long that doing conference exists even in his long term memory. When he reverts to memories of yore as if they happened yesterday he's still talking at conference. ;)

---

I mentioned in the other thread, I'd rather they call someone between 65 and 70 years old. Like it or not the succession model at the top is wait until people die. 65 year olds typically die quicker than 35 year olds. I don't mean to revel in people's death but if the generation gap is a part of what holds back revelation we'll overcome that obstacle much quicker with people in the top offices for 20 years instead of 50.

Call a 35 year old to the apostleship in 2015 and we suddenly have a person that represents the current generation in office. In 2065 will still have a person that represents the generation of 2015 in office. I'm blind to my prejudices. The dudes in 2065 will see it, I won't. I'd rather we lag 20 years behind rather than potentially 50.

I'm rambling. Old dudes at the top means a higher turnover. Recently we had a lot of guys in the position for 30, 40, even 50 years.

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Meh Mormon
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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by Meh Mormon » 05 Oct 2015, 07:21

I missed the talk, but here's my main thought. Isn't it odd to have one of the youngest apostles talk about the benefits of the apostles being old? Just the first thought that came to mind. I'll read the talk later.

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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by Roy » 05 Oct 2015, 09:19

This strikes me as similar to the justification that came out for having members clean the chapel. "Isn't it wonderful that members can have the blessings of service and take pride in their building?"

Or when the Gospel Essentials manual was being used in EQ creating a possibility that members could have the same lesson back to back. "Isn't it wonderful that we can learn important things through repetition? This follows the same pattern of the Lord that sent the angel Moroni to the young JS to repeat largely the same messages."

It is what it is and there are probably important reasons for it being that way - but then we try to frame it as a blessing from God.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

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nibbler
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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by nibbler » 05 Oct 2015, 09:21

Roy wrote:It is what it is and there are probably important reasons for it being that way - but then we try to frame it as a blessing from God.
Isn't it wonderful. 8-)

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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by Curt Sunshine » 05 Oct 2015, 09:54

I think he saw people he loved being criticized and wanted to defend them. I also think he truly believes what he said - and he is closer to the situation than I am, so I don't mind getting his perspective.

It's kind of like "Praise to the Man": A wonderful sentiment from a man writing a tribute to someone he loved. I don't have to love everything in that song to appreciate the motivation.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by amateurparent » 05 Oct 2015, 11:12

We have geriatric leaders. Those leaders have years of service and goodness behind them. They have given so much for so long. Now, many of them are frail mentally and physically. The structure of the church does not allow them to step down, so they continue in office. I suspect that much of what actually gets done is done by staff.

Bednar's arguments didn't work for me. I think old frail people often become very focused on themselves, their pain, and their loss of health. They often grieve their change in health and while they do not fear death, they do fear the pain and process of dying.

None of these old infirm men will be around for centuries. Not even decades. Maybe our best reaction is to be kind and generous with our thoughts for them. Allow their staff to run things for a while. Nothing fast happens in the church. The church has not had a time of such geriatric leaders in the past, this is not the norm. Expect time and poor health to change up the situation within the next few years.

We talk of change that will happen when this group of leaders pass away. We have no reason to believe that will actually happen. Let's quit trying to envison what magical wins and accomplishments will occur with our dream team of Fantasy Leadership. Let's look at our current leadership and just focus on patience and kindness. Let's work of our own humanity.
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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by hawkgrrrl » 05 Oct 2015, 11:15

I don't agree with those who feel that the elderly should be shoved aside just because they are old, but nor do I think they are all fantastic sources of wisdom. Many older people have a lot to offer, and in our society we tend to discount that. I don't think it's elder abuse for them to continue to serve if they want to serve, although the elderly also have a hard time letting go of things, and frankly, whether it's money, health, or power, you can't take it with you. We are all mortal. Having geriatric leaders is a mixed bag, just like younger people. I feel it was admirable and showed his commitment for Pres. Monson to keep going when he was so obviously infirm. I'm sure Bednar wanted to defend his beloved colleagues. I'll try to overlook the fact that their age is the primary reason that he'll probably eventually inherit the mantle.

Bednar was infamously quoted as saying "I am scripture" at a meeting with YSAs in Idaho during the Q&A portion. To me, this talk sounds a lot like "I testify that I am true." The introductory talks by both Stevenson and particularly Rasband were very off-putting to me and sounded a lot like they just won an Oscar. Renlund was fantastic, so much more like an Eyring or an Uchtdorf, humble and not making it all about him.

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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by Joni » 05 Oct 2015, 11:38

I do think it's interesting that at one time, the Lord was willing to work with a poor farm kid with a 3rd grade education... Now He prefers to speak only through old and elderly men, usually well educated and accomplished in secular fields. It makes you wonder if the world has changed, if the Lord has changed, or what.

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Re: Elder Bednar -- why we have elderly leaders

Post by nibbler » 05 Oct 2015, 11:49

hawkgrrrl wrote:The introductory talks by both Stevenson and particularly Rasband were very off-putting to me and sounded a lot like they just won an Oscar. Renlund was fantastic, so much more like an Eyring or an Uchtdorf, humble and not making it all about him.
I felt like Rasband was giving everyone the rundown of his score on the "Bob's Mormon Cred Scale" but I gave it a pass. I think it was just his way of introducing himself to the flock.

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