When Lehi met with his family shortly before his death, he spoke to his son Joseph about two other people who shared his name, one of whom lived many years earlier and one of whom would live many years later. The first of these was Joseph the son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery and ended up saving his family from starvation. The other was Joseph Smith, the prophet who would later translate the Book of Mormon. Here are some of the things he taught about Joseph Smith and what we can learn from them:
- “He shall do a work for…his brethren” (2 Nephi 3:7). Like all disciples of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith was called to serve others. We should remember that following the Savior means doing real work on behalf of others.
- “…to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with their fathers” (2 Nephi 3:7). One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is for us to “know the covenants of the Lord, that [we] are not cast off forever” (Title Page). We can have a sense of value and belonging as we recognize that God wants to have a covenant relationship with us.
- “He shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him” (2 Nephi 3:8). We all have limited time and energy. The goal is not to do everything. But we need to make sure we are dedicating our best time and energy to the things that matter most.
- “I will make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work” (2 Nephi 3:8). Imperfect people may judge us based on their limited information and biases, but we should be focused on what God thinks of us.
- “Unto him will I give power to bring forth my word” (2 Nephi 3:11). Helping people understand true principles is a spiritual activity and can only be done with God’s help.
- “Not to the bringing forth my word only…but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them” (2 Nephi 3:11). The Book of Mormon not only reveals truth; it also points us toward the Bible and helps us appreciate and understand it better. As we share the gospel, we can also enhance people’s appreciation for revealed truths which they already have.
- “Out of weakness he shall be made strong” (2 Nephi 3:13). The Lord doesn’t call perfect people to do His work. He calls us. Miraculously, the work gets done, in spite of our shortcomings. But–and this is the main point–in the course of trying to do this perfect work, we change. We become stronger.
- “I will make for him a spokesman” (2 Nephi 3:18). One way the Lord overcomes our deficiencies is by surrounding us with people who have different strengths, who complement us. If we can learn to appreciate one another’s talents and to rely on each other, we can be far more productive than we would be working independently.
I’m grateful for these lessons about Joseph Smith. Today, as I strive to do God’s work, I will trust Him to help me overcome my weaknesses. I will be grateful for fellow-laborers who complement my strengths, and I will recognize that one of the reasons God asks me to serve is for my own growth and development.