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.
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.
Why did King Benjamin’s people love him so much? Because he had the unique ability not to let his position of authority go to his head. The language he uses throughout this chapter makes that clear. He makes an accounting of the ways he has fulfilled his responsibility to serve them, including by “laboring with mine own hands…that ye should not be laden with taxes” (Mosiah 2:14). He also refers to himself as “I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service” (Mosiah 2:19). And he later says, “I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are, for I am also of the dust” (Mosiah 2:26).
Where did this modesty come from, and how did he maintain it over time? We know from experience that leaders have a tendency to abuse their power. (See D&C 121:39.) How did King Benjamin resist this temptation?
I think some of the answers are in the passage above:
- He didn’t want to intimidate his people. “I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me.” He wanted to motivate them to make the right decisions for the right reasons.
- His awareness of his own weaknesses helped him to see himself as equal with the people he led: “I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind.”
- He recognized and was grateful for God’s hand in his life, which helped him avoid taking undue credit for his success. “[I] was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king.”
- He thought of his role as a responsibility, not a privilege: “to serve you with all of the might, mind, and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.”
Today, I will follow King Benjamin’s example of humble leadership. I will strive to treat others in a way that helps them make decisions for the right reasons. I will allow my own weaknesses to keep me humble. I will recognize God’s hand in my life. And I will remember that the leadership roles I have been given are responsibilities to serve.