Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty-two: Joseph Smith and Consistent Visionary Leadership

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was A Prophet

Evidence Twenty-two: 
Joseph Smith and Consistent Visionary Leadership© 

The following quotations from Joseph Smith constitute my twenty-second evidence that he was a Prophet of God. In his unassuming, straight-forward manner, Joseph recorded the following as he convened a Church council on the morning of 15 January 1836:
At nine a.m., met in council agreeable to adjournment, at the Council room in the Temple, and seated the authorities of the Church agreeable to their respective offices. I then made some observations respecting the order of the day, and the great responsibility we were under to transact all our business in righteousness before God, inasmuch as our decisions will have a bearing upon all mankind, and upon all generations to come.(1)
From today's perspective it seems like such a simple, self-evident thing that the presiding councils of the Church should conduct business righteously because of the long-range implications their decisions can have. Despite perhaps stating the obvious, I remind readers that Joseph was 31-years-old when he said this. That, of itself, betokens the extraordinary vision and wisdom of the passage.  

But what appeals to me most is the fact that Joseph Smith never lost sight of who he was–an instrument in the hands of the Lord–he never took his eye off of the objective and its importance–he led God’s only true Church on earth which could guide people to salvation, therefore, their work must be marked by a serious righteousness consistent with that purpose–and he constantly kept those objectives before his people–that what they were doing involved truly awesome consequences. All of this, therefore, imposed the “great responsibility ... to transact all our business in righteousness before God.” In Joseph’s mind, Church leadership did not just depend upon the cumulative knowledge and intelligence of the council; there was a more important spiritual qualification required to lead God's Church.

The business before the council that morning was consideration of a draft of rules of conduct while in the Kirtland Temple.  It was read three times and the minutes of the meeting state that there were "a few queries, answers, and debates" but the several quorums finally voted unanimously to accept the rules "as a law to govern the House of the Lord in Kirtland."  Of even more interest is another passage from those minutes explaining additional teaching by Joseph Smith regarding making decisions in righteousness. The investigation of the subject, the minutes said, showed that many who deliberated were "darkened in their minds."  That drew the following from the Prophet:
... respecting the privileges of the authorities of the Church, that each should speak in his turn and in his place, and in his time and season, that there may be perfect order in all things; and that every man, before he makes an objection to any item that is brought before a council for consideration, should be sure that he can throw light upon the subject rather than spread darkness, and that his objection be founded in righteousness, which may be done by men applying themselves closely to study the mind and will of the Lord, whose Spirit always makes manifest and demonstrates the truth to the understanding of all who are in possession of the Spirit.(2)
Joseph’s critics gainsay many things he said and did, but reading his history in detail reveals to this writer that he possessed a constant and consistent clear vision of his purpose and role in life as the Prophet of the Restoration, and one is extremely hard pressed to find a time or times when that mission was set aside, forgotten, ignored, or trifled with in any way.   He also understood the principles whereby those in councils were to act in righteousness.  He not only taught Church leadership to act righteously, but he taught them how to do so.  Answers to such practical questions were a hallmark of his ministry. That fact is that acting in “righteousness before God” could be considered his personal motto and guided his brief but miraculous and marvelous work.  I do not believe that can be successfully challenged.

God be praised for the leadership example and teachings Joseph Smith provided for all subsequent prophets and leaders in this the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.

Let’s think together again, soon.


1. Joseph Smith, HC 2:370, Friday, 15 January 1836, emphasis added.

2.  Ibid, emphasis added.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Conscious or Casual Our Preparation is Cumulative

A story from the life of David O. McKay

[Today's blog is devoted to sharing with you a little-known story about David O. McKay which I first encountered last week while preparing a Sunday School lesson.  Sister Smith's profound commentary before and after invite further reflection.  I encourage readers to read the entire talk.  DWB.]

"Preparation may be conscious and skillful or casual and undirected, but, in either case, it is cumulative.

We may not realize it at the moment of choice, but our response is an infallible index of what we have become.
One of our favorite Church stories is that of President McKay when he was a young man loading stock for market with his brothers.
The McKay brothers, unlike many of their neighbors, did not dress in overalls and heavy boots when they were working. By rural standards they were elegantly turned out as they loaded calves, sheep, and hogs into the waiting wagons with speed and grace before an admiring crowd of small boys. Nearing the end of their labor, young David O. decided he would hoist the last hog aboard all by himself.  As he started the mighty heave it would take, he slipped–and ended with the hog on top of him and both of them deep in the loading corral mud.  The boys on, and peering through, the fence waited expectantly.
Slowly, David extricated himself, wiped futilely at the muck that now almost covered him, and then said to the assembled youngsters, “No use waiting, boys; I’m not going to swear!” His decision not to swear on this occasion was the same as it had been on many occasions.  The control of his tongue, in a moment of stress and humiliation, was reinforced by the countless other times when he had resisted the easy and insecure recourse of profanity.
We rarely succumb to temptation in one overpowering moment.  The strength of living by a principle is built line upon line, time upon time, of facing a moment of challenge and responding appropriately. Every important choice is the inevitable result of a hundred earlier choices."

Barbara B. Smith, “‘...For Such a Time as This,’” devotional address, 16 February 1982, in Brigham Young University Fireside and Devotional Speeches (Provo, UT: University Publications 1982), p. 92, emphasis added.  Also available on the web at:

Let's think together again, soon.