The young Joseph Smith when still only 14, saw God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in a personal visitation in the spring of 1820. Through him, until his Martyrdom at Carthage Jail in 1844, came the unfolding of the “greatest gospel dispensation of all time.” The Lord described the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church as “a marvelous work among the children of men.”
Joseph Smith—as prophet, teacher, and beloved leader of the Saints—was the prophet of the Restoration. His ministry was filled with events that molded him into a prophet. Through his ministry, what was then a small band of believers in 1830, has become a worldwide Church today. He accomplished his work without the advantages of schooling, property, or family prominence. The cause of Christ he championed has never taken a step backward.
Leading with Love
The prophet Joseph Smith was a remarkable leader. He served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; mayor of Nauvoo, one of the largest cities in Illinois; lieutenant-general of the Nauvoo Legion; and in 1844 he was a candidate for President of the United States.
What set Joseph Smith apart from other dynamic leaders was the source of his teachings: the God of Heaven. “The best way to obtain truth and wisdom,” he taught, “is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.”
Joseph led with love. He recognized the worth of every soul as a child of God. When asked why so many followed him, he replied: “It is because I possess the principle of love. All I can offer the world is a good heart and a good hand.”
The Prophet refused to place himself above others. Rather, as he humbly said, “I love to wait upon the Saints, and be a servant to all, hoping that I may be exalted in the due time of the Lord.” Bereft of pride, Joseph personified the Lord’s counsel: “Whosoever will be great among you, . . . shall be servant of all.”
1. First Presidency message, Apr. 6, 1930: quoted in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 5:275.
2. Doctrine and Covenants 18:44.
3. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 191.
4. History of the Church, 5:498.
5. History of the Church, 4:492.
6. Mark 10:43–44.