Grey Hair and ‘She Bears’

The summer before my Freshman year of High School, my family moved from Utah to Idaho. Imagine how thrilled I was to find that in Idaho, fourteen is the age a driver license can be issued. I took drivers training as a class that fall in school, passed the written and driving tests, and received my license. I will never forget an interchange between my mother and I one afternoon shortly thereafter. She needed something from the store for dinner, so I volunteered to take the car (my father’s Cadillac) to the store for her. She said she wasn’t comfortable with me taking that car out on my own just yet. In response, I said, “I passed the written and driving tests. The State of Idaho says that I’m just as good a driver as you are.” She then explained to me that just because I was “book smart” and had a bit of time behind the wheel, those things did not equal her many years of actual driving experience. All those years of driving developed her skills and enabled her to become a driver with the ability to make good decisions—sometimes quickly and under pressure. She had driven in many different weather and road conditions and had developed a sixth sense about unseen dangers ahead. She assured me that these would all come to me in time also, but for now my father’s car was off limits to me. My hands never did grip the steering wheel of that big Caddy.

Elder David A. Bednar began his past General Conference address (”Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name”) [1] with the following interchange between Mike Wallace of CBS and our dear past Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley:

“Mr. Wallace remarked, “There are those who say, ‘This is a gerontocracy. This is a Church run by old men.’” President Hinckley responded cheerfully and without hesitation and said, “Isn’t it wonderful to have a man of maturity at the head, a man of judgment who isn’t blown by every wind of doctrine?”

Elder Bednar continued:

“My purpose is to explain why indeed it is wonderful to have older men (and I will interject the women who head three of the Church’s General Auxiliaries) of great spiritual maturity and judgment serving in the senior leadership positions of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.” [2]

Bednar memeI’d like to also share my thoughts and testimony about this divinely inspired practice. When Elder Bednar said, “Some people have suggested younger, more vigorous leaders are needed in the Church to address effectively the serious challenges of our modern world.” [3], we need to recognize that this is not a new train of thought. Perhaps you will recall this situation recorded in the Old Testament involving the prophet Elisha:

“And he [Elisha] went up thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children [the footnote at ‘little’ reads: ‘HEB youths (not little children)] out of the city mocking him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” [4]

What just happened here? I see a large group of people, perhaps young adults, who are tired of hearing counsel and direction that interferes with the things they want to do or believe. They yell, “Go up, thou bald head” (or in today’s terms, “Get out of here old man!”) as they reject Elisha the prophet and his teachings. “Bald head” specifically points out that the fact that he is old; implying that he is out of touch, old fashioned, not with it, behind the times, or not hip. It also implies that the prophet Elisha cannot possibly relate to them or their views on the latest trends or issues. They may feel that the world has moved on and that Elisha’s ideas are outdated or no longer relevant. The crowd is young and enlightened. By the power vested in Elisha, he brings two ‘she bears’ out of the woods to ‘tare’ them. The scripture doesn’t say they were slain by the bear, but ‘tare’ implies that they were certainly injured.

The best scripture study includes likening the people in this story to ourselves. Let’s do that now.

There are some within the membership of the Church (as well as many outside of the Church) who cry these same things today. Their mantra is, “What can these old men [and I’ll add women] have to say to us today? They are so out of touch. Things have changed in the world and they aren’t keeping up.” And actually, one of those things is true. The divinely called leaders of our Church aren’t changing. They aren’t preaching the more progressive messages the world wants to hear to sooth their conscience, validate their behavior, or align with popular trends. The reason our Church leaders aren’t preaching these philosophies is not because they are old and stuck in the past. It is because it is not their message. It is the Lord’s message. When He wants something changed, He will let us know—and He will do it through prophets and apostles.

two bears walkingI feel pretty confident in saying that those who choose not to heed the counsel of Church leaders (and those who mock them), don’t need to fear that two ‘she bears’ will be brought out of the woods to physically harm them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t spiritual consequences. There are.

‘She bears’ are being “brought out of the woods” as people turn a deaf ear to the counsel to avoid participating in pornography. There are ‘she bears’ that tear at us when social media is misused. Harm is inflicted when the ‘she bears’ attached to the Word of Wisdom and gambling, even seemingly innocent online fantasy sports, are unleashed. There is little public shame for sexual promiscuity before marriage or even afterwards. But that doesn’t stop the ‘she bears’ that those behaviors summon. Breaking the Sabbath brings out ‘she bears’, even when those wounds may not be seen for some time. The list could go on and on. The woods are full of ‘she bears’ when we figuratively tell the prophets, “Go up, thou bald head!” and choose our own way. Elder Bednar addresses this way of thinking when he said:

“Some people have suggested younger, more vigorous leaders are needed in the Church to address effectively the serious challenges or our modern world. But the Lord does not use contemporary philosophies and practices of leadership to accomplish His purposes.” (See Isaiah 55:8-9) We can expect the President and other senior leaders of the church will be older and spiritually seasoned men.” [5]

To this, I say thank goodness. We have all known those who have been called to positions in either local or General leadership that have been younger than usual. It is wonderful to see how the Lord magnifies them and to watch them grow to fill those mantles. I find great security in knowing that those serving in the highest positions of leadership are seasoned by years of experience. Their emotional and spiritual maturity enables them to stand strong with calm and resolution against the philosophies of the world. And I am safe from the figurative ‘she bears’ when I stand with them.

Full head, gray head, bald head; it’s full steam ahead for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints under the direction of the Lord’s chosen leadership.


[1] – Elder David A. Bednar, Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name”, LDS General Conference, Oct. 4, 2015

[2] – CBS 60 Minutes, broadcast on Apr. 7, 1996

[3] – Ibid.

[4] – 2 Kings 2:23-24

[5] – Ibid.

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About Bethany Packard

Bethany Packard is absolutely in love with her wonderful husband, Chad. They live in the Dallas, TX area where they raised six amazing children and owned a business, though now retired. Eighteen terrific grandchildren hold their hearts. At age 49, the Packards were called to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as a Senior Couple (though they certainly didn't see themselves as "Senior") and assigned to the Russia Moscow Mission. Leaving their family and business - before they were retired - took faith, but it also created the opportunity for God to perform many miracles in their lives. They are currently serving a Church Service Mission as Internship Coordinators for BYU-Idaho in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She loves music, interior design, cooking, sports, fall, and macaroni & cheese.

One thought on “Grey Hair and ‘She Bears’

  1. Rachelle Hills

    Wonderful article! Puts it all in perspective. The young people who disdain the older leadership just want to go their own way without being called to repentence. God has not changed, modern society has merely decided the “old immorality in a new dress ” (to prarphrase Pres. Kimball) is more attracitve to them.


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