Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Age and Wisdom

There is a general perception within society that we become wiser with experience and age. My observation has been that when people (generally speaking) reach about 18 to 20 they start to see themselves as grown-up and having passed the main learning stage (as far as living is concerned - just seeing refinement as required). Yet upon reaching around 30 they see themselves as THEN being much wiser, and so it goes though 40, 60 etc.

There are many things for us to learn in life. In looking at life and growth the real issue seems to come down to far more than what we have experienced. There is the aspect of what have we learnt from what we have experienced? And secondly how astute are we at discerning what is right without such experiences?

For example of the latter, how well do we understand not to murder? Most would argue that they would never murder. Yet many, so saying, have murdered when certain situations have arisen. King David is a classic case in murdering Uriah, the husband of Bath-sheba. Here also, David had committed adultery; which he would have also claimed he would not have done. Would he have been any wiser had he been ten or twenty years older? I don't think so. Having had the experience he learnt not to repeat it. But should we have to commit adultery and murder someone to learn not to do so?

What also stands out as obvious to me is that most bad experiences people have aren't learnt from. These things prove to me that it really comes down to spiritual wisdom: Not age - definately; nor experience - necessarily.

When I hear someone in their 40s (for example) tell me that someone of 14 is too ignorant to understand this or that, my mind immediately turns to Adam. I imagine him rolling on the floor with laughter (having lived 930 years) hearing such a claim. I think, "what arrogance:" Someone supposing themselves to be superior to another person purely by virtue of age.

1st Samuel chapter 3 tells the story of the "child Samuel" who received revelation because the prophet (Eli - who was old at this point) of the time was not listening in regard his sons. Then we have the situation of Mormon.

"And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus. And I did endeavor to preach unto this people.." Mormon 1:15-16

How would you feel about a 15-year-old preaching to you? Would you feel the "he is too young to know," type idea? "I'm more wise than he is?"

What is more, Mormon was appointed to be the leader of the entire Nephite armies at the age of fifteen (Morm 2:1-2). How would you feel knowing the defense of your nation was in the hands of a 15-year-old? Not enough experience? What would he know? He should be at school.

Some may use the old "ah, but that was back then," as if to suggest that people in the past had 3 arms and 3 legs, or were in some mysterious way different to us.

God gave knowledge of the gold plates to a 17-year-old. Wouldn't a 30+-year-old with more experinece have been a wiser choice? God didn't seem to think so. Joseph Smith hadn't got to the 18-20 year old syndrome of settling in to believe he had worked life out. God molded him with an open mind.

This would seem to demonstrate that we must remain as little children in our learning. Heavenly Father is the wise adult. We ALL are the ignorant children that need to learn. If we start to consider ourselves wiser by age then we close our minds that much more. The beginning of learning is to truly realise how little we actually know. And then to realise that we NEED to learn what we don't know, as soon as possible.

4 comments:

Denidowi said...

People often bring up this idea that God would not call a 14 year old prophet!
And they are right! Neither He would. So He didn't! He called a 24 year-old "prophet". Joseph did not receive the Priesthood until he was near this age.
God merely instructed him at 14 and 17, etc.
He was a student, being trained under the hand of God and via the Holy Ghost.

Now as for our young friend, Mormon: I wondered the same thing about the men accepting a 15 year-old leader, and as to how he performed at 15.
So you will need to go back over the specifics of the record there; you will notice, upon very careful time examination, that he was about 19 before he had his first victory with the Nephites; and when he had that victory, the men were stupid enough to go about boasting in their own strength - which, really, just shows how little they were used to winning!!
If you also have a close look when he was first appointed Captain at 15, you will probably notice that the men didn't seem to have much respect for his leadership, nor for the preaching of this young upstart!

Doug Towers said...

Denidowi

It is true that they didn't want to hear Mormon's message. But this didn't stop God from calling him. Nor is there any mention that they rejected his leadership from a militarilistic point of view.

I don't see the association between them boasting of success and this meaning they had been losing during his leadership time. It could have meant that they hadn't had such a major victory or that there had been very little activity during that time.

This also doesn't seem to relate to Samuel. We also have the point that Jesus Christ taught in the temple at 12.

God does generally choose people who have had the experience of successfully raising a family and having a good marriage, to be leaders. But God does as God feels appropriate in any given situation.

Denidowi said...

I think you will find, Doug, that Goddoes not call upon young ones to act in the office of Prophet, nor officiate in that office.
Nevertheless, one can be even of primary age and still receive and teach others by aid of 'the spirit of prophecy'.
This is as Jesus taught in the temple, aged 12.
Nevertheless, God had not ordained Him to the office of High Priest or Prophet at that age.
He, Himself, merely declared that He be "about my Father's business".
As I made some study of excatly how Mormon succeeded at 15, I found that basically, he didn't.
As I said previously, there were no recorded victories among the men of Nephi under hisleadership, despite their many wars til Mormon reached about 19.
Also his spiritual attempts to them fell on deaf ears.
So, one might be inclined to read into that that he had not yet earned their respect or admiration.
That is, besidesthe fact that they were just not religious regardless.

Doug Towers said...

Denidowi

The comment in the Book of Mormon that he was chosen for his revelatory ability may not mean that he was the president of the priesthood, but a prophet he certainly was.

I think we get a little too caught up in this "the prophet" business, in the church. God has many prophets and prophetessess at this time upon the earth. But there is only one president of the priesthood for the church itself.

It is questionable whether we could regard Mormon to hold that specific office. But he certainly was young and receiving revelation. He was also called to preach to the Nephites at 15. Abinadi was also rejected and didn't get respect. Also he wasn't the president of the priesthood either. Yet both were called to perform the tast REGARDLESS of age. Which is the point I'm making.

Mormon had no apparent losses during those years either, as the Book of Mormon mentions no battles occurring at that time. Yet he still was given the office at that age. Had the army been opposed to it, it would not have happened. These people were in a life and death struggle. They trusted his prophetic leadership, as the Book of Mormon states.

The point of the post is to present that God has, and will continue to call upon young people to do his work regardless of age. So he is demonstrating that he doesn't believe that some people are too young. These people quoted demonstrate this point.