According to Mormon, God “appointed” Benjamin to be king (Mosiah 2:4). But Benjamin himself doesn’t say that. He doesn’t call himself the king, and he doesn’t say that he was chosen by God.
What does he say? Three times, he refers to himself as, “I, whom ye call your king,” (Mosiah 2:18, 19, 26), suggesting that his authority was given by his people. And when he discusses his role from God’s perspective, he says that the Lord “suffered” him to be king (Mosiah 2:11, Mosiah 2:12, Mosiah 2:30).
One meaning of “suffer,” of course, is to endure discomfort. But suffer also means to allow or to permit (Merriam-Webster). Benjamin seems to want his people to know that God is willing to let him serve in this role, but that he is not entitled to it.
Benjamin is keenly aware of his weaknesses. “I am like as yourselves,” he says near the beginning of the sermon, “subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind” (Mosiah 2:11). And a little later, he says, “My whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you” (Mosiah 2:30). A willingness to acknowledge our deficiencies can keep us humble so that we can receive God’s grace. (See Ether 12:27.)
Benjamin recognizes his total dependence on God. He says that God’s power has “kept and preserved” him, and he reminds his people that God preserves them “from day to day, by lending [them] breath” (Mosiah 2:21). We can’t guarantee our own health and safety, and so many things are beyond our control. We really are in God’s hands.
Benjamin stayed humble through hard work. “I…have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you,” he said (Mosiah 2:14). “And if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?” (Mosiah 2:18). Service is a great equalizer. When we serve one another, our positions of authority become insignificant.
Today, I will strive to follow Benjamin’s example of servant-leadership. I will acknowledge my deficiencies, remember my dependence on God, and work hard. I will remember that God “suffers” me to hold positions of responsibility, not as an affirmation of superiority, but as an opportunity to serve.