1 And now it came to pass that Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah, one of his sons; therefore Noah began to reign in his stead; and he did not walk in the ways of his father.
2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.
King Noah was a terrible leader for a number of reasons. He spent lavishly, which imposed an excessive financial burden on his people. He was an ineffective military leader and was ultimately unable to defend the kingdom. But as Mormon emphasizes in the passage above, the worst thing about Noah’s reign was the spiritual corrosion that spread among his people under his leadership. “He did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart…. And he did cause his people to commit sin.”
The influence of a leader is far-reaching and immeasurable. Because they are so visible, their decisions establish norms of behavior for the people they lead. When King Mosiah later abolished the monarchy among the Nephites, one of his arguments was that a wicked king has a devastating impact on the morality of his people: “For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed…. Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people (Mosiah 29:17-18).
No wonder that, in our day, the Lord has counseled us to choose good leaders. In a revelation received August 6, 1833, Joseph Smith was told:
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil (D&C 98:10).
In recent weeks, Church leaders have encouraged members of the Church to become more active in politics. For example, in the most recent general conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard, the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
Church members–both men and women–should not hesitate, if they desire, to run for public office at any level of government wherever they live. Our voices are essential today and important in our schools, our cities, and our countries. Where democracy exists, it is our duty as members to vote for honorable men and women who are willing to serve (“Precious Gifts from God,” General Conference, April 2018).
Today, I will do what I can to support leaders with high moral values. I will remember the corrosive effect corrupt leaders have on the people under their influence, and I will do what I can to support leaders of integrity, wisdom, and compassion