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What Does King Benjamin Teach about Leadership? (Mosiah 2)

A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon Lesson 15:
“Filled with Love towards God and All Men” (Mosiah 1-3)




In Mosiah 2, King Benjamin discusses his reign as king and I think teaches some lessons on service and leadership that are worth thinking about more generally. Beginning in verse 10,

10 I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man.

Kings in the ancient world were often assumed to be divine or a personification of the deity. Instead of inhaling the adulation, Benjamin instead speaks to his people in humility and puts away any false differences between him and his people. It seems to me he does this both because he is honest and because it is necessary in order to teach them and allow them to relate what he will talk about to their own circumstances. Continuing with verse 11

11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.

Not only is Benjamin not a deity, but he also makes it clear he is not infallible, inerrant, or in any other way superhuman, but he was blessed, because the Lord gave him an opportunity to serve, and to serve with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord grants you is a blessing indeed. Continuing with verses 12-14,

12 I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you;
13 Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you—
14 And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.

We learn here that Benjamin has faithfully executed the laws of the land. He has also been concerned with not becoming a burden to his people. He hasn’t exacted taxes of his people, but has instead labored with his own hands to support himself. He has also done these things not for rhetorical advantage of any kind as we see in verse 15,

15 Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.
16 Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

To me the great lesson of this portion of King Benjamin’s speech is that often we best fulfill the First and Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37) “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” when we keep the second (Matthew 22:39) “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” and put that love into action through service.

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