Usually, whenever I think of King Benjamin, I think of his speech on the tower.
And that was great, no doubt about it. But lately, I’ve been considering the example that King Benjamin is to parents.
I) King Benjamin taught his sons to be men of understanding
This is a direct example of King Benjamin’s parenting abilities. He taught his sons the language of his fathers that they might be men of understanding.
First of all, we have to recognize the significance of understanding. It is more than knowing. Often, we hear about opening our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and our hearts to understand. Being understanding connotes humility and conversion to the message that we have received. It is more than knowing. It is an application of knowledge received.
Secondly, we need to understand what the “language of our fathers” are. In this case, the fathers of King Benjamin were righteous people. I think about my fathers, my mothers, my ancestors. I don’t know many of them. So I can’t really teach my children in their language. But there are good things I’ve learned from my parents. I want this information to be passed on to my children. Additionally, I want to teach them of my spiritual fathers – the heroes of the gospel that I look up to. The men and women who have helped to form my faith and testimony. When I teach my children of these “fathers” they will also become people who understand.
II) He admits his faults.
In Mosiah 2:10-16, King Benjamin accounts for his service as King. He admits that he is a mortal man. He doesn’t claim to be any better than the people in his kingdom. He is humble.
I think of myself as a mother – do I show this in my parenting? Do I act like I know that I’m a mortal, or do I act like I’m perfect and shouldn’t be questioned?
I have noticed, in life, it is easier to give “breaks” to the people who are free to admit their weakness. When someone acts perfect and isn’t perfect, it is a lot harder to be patient with them (even if they would like the break!). I know that I’m imperfect. I want my children to be patient with me because I happen to have no idea what I’m doing. This means that I have to fess up to my weaknesses. If I act like I’m some kind of domineering, omniscient force, I don’t think that they will readily accept my weakness.
It is so easy to respect King Benjamin because he is open about his intentions, his work, his limitations. He doesn’t say these things to win anyone over or be political. He is honest – even if that means he must readily accept his own faults.
III) King Benjamin was a peacemaker
“And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days.” – Mosiah 1:1
This is what I want for my home and family. I have to admit, my home isn’t always a peaceful place. sometimes it is full of confusion. Sometimes there is an air of contention. I don’t like it when these things happen. I want to make my home a haven of peace – of countinual peace.
There are a few things that I contributed to the peace that he was able to establish
- He spoke the word of God with authority. – I need to have authority in my home. This doesn’t mean I need to exercise unrighteous dominion, but there does need to be order. As a parent, I need to be the one who is a voice of authority. If I give this up to my kids, I do them a disservice. They do not fully understand what they want or need. I can, along with my husband, rule our home with authority in a way that uplifts and inspires our children.
- He labored with all of his faculties. – I think that this is so important. There are many reasons that I need to work hard. In order for peace to reign in my home, I know that the conditions of my home need to inspire peace and tranquility. I need to work hard to maintain cleanliness and order in the home. It is impossible to feel peace in a messy or filthy house. And, as a parent, If I laze around and expect my children to do the housework, then I won’t be able to establish peace. It is better for me to work hard, alongside my children – therefore reinforching our relationship through work.
- He fought to protect his Kingdom. – I may not have to fight with the sword of Laban, but I do have a fight. There are forces that want to push their way into the walls of my home. I have experienced these. I was born out of wedlock. My parents were divorced. I was divorced. Satan used many tactics to do what he could to destroy my family. It has had far-reaching effects. If I don’t fight to protect my family, then I know that there is a good chance we will not make it. Everything is on the line. My children, my children’s children depend on my efforts to protect our home in much the same way the Nephites relied on King Benjamin.
IV) He did not tax or become burdensome to His people.
This is easy to see why not taxing the people would be good for a kingdom, but it also applies to parentings. Even though I’m not a king, I do have a stewardship. I wonder, do I ever “tax” my children – put undue burdens on them – because of my own refusal to work hard or repent?
I love the things we learn in the scriptures. What do you learn about parenting from King Benjamin? How do you think that you can apply his example to your life?