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Book review: 'Joseph and Hyrum: Leading as One'

Published: Saturday, Nov. 27 2010 7:30 a.m. MST

"Joseph and Hyrum: Leading as One," edited by Mark E. Mendenhall, Hal B. Gregersen, Jeffrey O. Driscoll, Heidi S. Swinton and Breck England; Deseret Book, 2010, 251 pages, $21.99

"Joseph and Hyrum: Leading as One" is a valuable collection of essays that delve into the lives of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The book highlights the brothers' admirable leadership skills as they organized and operated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As leaders, the brothers offered counsel, extended friendship and taught by righteous example. The book tells in-depth stories about Joseph and Hyrum with the intent that modern-day readers will transform their personal perspectives on leadership. Most notably, the book stresses how the brothers interacted with people and how they built relationships.

In the essay titled "Tuned to the Work Joseph and Hyrum's Emotional Labor," Michael Thompson speaks of the emotional intensity the brothers brought to their positions. Whenever the Saints were driven from their homes, it was Joseph who wept and prayed in their behalf.

Thompson also speaks of the anguish Joseph felt when he lost the Book of Mormon manuscript. Joseph and Hyrum also dealt with boarders in need of physical and spiritual nourishment. These stories show the responsibilities that were placed on their shoulders.

Despite these emotional demands, Joseph and Hyrum strived to keep the Spirit with them. In return, this helped sustain them in their duties and responsibilities. Thompson gives these examples to emphasize how important it is to keep the Spirit with us in our leadership positions.

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from Joseph and Hyrum is how they allowed people to exercise agency. It is stressed throughout various essays that leaders do not compel or even force someone to accept a particular view. Joseph and Hyrum taught by gentleness and love. They spoke with the Spirit and the power of God. Afterward, they allowed people to choose for themselves if Joseph's and Hyrum's words were valid. Exploring this side of Joseph and Hyrum, leaders today are able to see how they should conduct themselves in their personal and professional relationships.

The book concludes by reiterating the great legacy that Joseph and Hyrum left behind. The authors masterfully show how historical events can influence the choices we make today in our lives.

This book is not an autobiography. The main purpose of the book is to speak of lessons we can learn from Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The authors state that if we take these leadership lessons, we can bless the lives of people with whom we come in contact.

Shelby Scoffield is a graduate student in Modesto, Calif.

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