Elder David A. Bednar: ‘Chosen to Bear Testimony of His Name’

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During a 1996 interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley, Mike Wallace said, "There are those who say, 'This is a gerontocracy. This is a church run by old men.'"

President Hinckley immediately 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?"

Elder David A. Bednar, who until Saturday was the youngest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in terms of age, spoke Sunday afternoon on "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."

During his service, the average age of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has been 77 years — the oldest over an 11-year interval in this dispensation. "I have been blessed by the collective apostolic, personal, and profesional experience and insight of the quorum members with whom I serve," Elder Bednar said.

Oftentimes, the limitations of advancing age "can in fact become remarkable sources of spiritual learning and insight," Elder Bednar said. He shared an experience he had while spending a Sunday afternoon with Elder Robert D. Hales as he was recovering from a serious illness. At one point, he asked Elder Hales, "What lessons have you learned as you have grown older and been constrained by decreased physical capacity?"

Elder Hales responded, "When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most."

"I have observed in my Brethren at least a part of the Lord's purpose for having older men of maturity and judgment serve in senior leadership positions of the Church," Elder Bednar said. "These men have had a sustained season of tutoring by the Lord whom they represent, serve and love." Over the years, they have undergone a developmental process that sharpened their vision, gave them insight, engendered love for all people and strengthened their testimony of the Restoration, he said.

During his time in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, six of Elder Bednar's Bretheren have died: President James E. Faust, President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Elder L. Tom Perry, President Boyd K. Packer and Elder Richard G. Scott. Like Nephi, Jacob and Moroni who shared "powerful spiritual summaries of lessons learned through decades of consecrated service" in their closing testimonies in the Book of Mormon, these Brethren have also shared their final testimonies in general conference.

"I am not suggesting the final messages of these beloved men necessarily were the most noteworthy or important of their ministries," Elder Bednar said. "However, the sum of their spiritual learning and life experiences enabled these leaders to emphasize eternal truths with absolute authenticity and great penetrating power." They testified of Jesus Christ, forgiveness, the restoration of the Church through Joseph Smith, the joy of eternal families and the power of Christ's Atonement.

In closing, Elder Bednar said, "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."

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