Saturday, March 9, 2019

President Boyd K. Packer on the responsibilities of later years of life

President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He served as president of that Quorum from 1994 until his death in 2015 at age 90.
"We are old now, and in due time, we will be summoned beyond the veil. We do not resist that. We try to teach the practical things we have learned over the years to those who are younger—to our family and to others.
"We cannot do what we once did, but we have become more than ever we were before. Life’s lessons, some of them very painful, qualify us to counsel, to correct, and even to warn our youth.
"In your golden years there is so much to do and so much to be. Do not withdraw into a retirement from life, into amusement. That, for some, would be useless, even selfish. You may have served a mission and been released and consider yourself as having completed your service in the Church, but you are never released from being active in the gospel. 'If,' the Lord said, 'ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work' (D&C 4:3).
"You may at last, when old and feeble, learn that the greatest mission of all is to strengthen your own family and the families of others, to seal the generations....
"Keep the fire of your testimony of the restored gospel and your witness of our Redeemer burning so brightly that our children can warm their hands by the fire of your faith. That is what grandfathers and grandmothers are to do!"
- Boyd K. Packer, "The Golden Years," General Conference April 2003
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Packer was 78 years old when he offered these remarks; he would live another dozen years. He shared counsel about the challenges and blessings of "senior" members of the Church, the grandmothers and grandfathers who might not be able to do as much in active assignments as they did in the past, but who have gifts and abilities to serve that can make a huge difference in many other ways.

Part of the responsibility of older members is to share the things they have learned and experienced in their lifetimes. They should look for opportunities to do that; and younger members should seek to help provide the opportunities, so that all may be blessed and edified together.

The most critical role of all for "senior" members is to let the fire of testimony burn bright in their souls. Even when they are not able to be as active in the Church as they would like, they must continue to be active in the gospel, and then to let the light of their testimony burn brightly for others to see and feel.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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